Gotthards Krog, Umeå, Sweden
Gotthards Krog is the restaurant of Stora Hotellet, our saltwater-scented grand hotel in northern Sweden. It is named after the first proprietor of the hotel, Gotthard Zetterberg, a man about whom many tales were told - some true, some less so.
One that we can definitely confirm is that in his youth, the adventure-starved Gotthard sailed with the renowned Swedish nobleman and explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld to Greenland. The goal of the 1883 expedition was to find out whether any part of Greenland really was green, something in which they failed spectacularly. Nevertheless Gotthard returned to the shore with a lifelong love for the sailor's life.
Sadlyhe never got to go to sea again. But Stora Hotellet in Umeå, situated within shouting distance of the quay, where ships from all over the world came and went, was an acceptable substitute - especially as the hotel shared a building with the Seamen's Mission, meaning that sailors, captains, commanders and cooks were in and out of the place all day long.
Gotthard Zetterberg dearly loved a good story well told, and the bar of Stora Hotellet, where, according to a contemporary source, "the punch flowed freely", was a popular place for all the tellers of tall tales to gather, drink, and amaze eachother. Gotthard, the erstwhile sailor and generous host, ran Stora Hotellet for 18 years, and became something of a local dignitary into the bargain.
Stora Hotellet's bar was also the scene of another memorable evening, albeit many years after Gotthard Zetterbergs time. In 1959, the hotel hosted an illustrious visitor - none other than Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, on his way to do his most northerly gig ever. All of Umeå's English teachers had been called in to make conversation with the star. Legend has it that a good time was had by all, the guest of honour included.
Today's Gotthards is, like the rest of the hotel, a thrilling mix of the plush and the rough - the velvet sofa is crowned with a carved skull, octopuses lurk in the wallpaper, and the cosy booths are lit by ship's lanterns. The motifs of the hotel rooms - tall ships, hourglasses, Neptune with his fork, seagulls and ropework - can also be found on the specially designed blue-and-white tableware.
The menu features the best local ingredients spiced up with flavours from all the classic port cities around the world, from Singapore and Calcutta to Casablanca and Sydney.