Design hotel in Old Town ups the game on hotel breakfasts
Where to go for Sunday brunch is a topic that often takes up a lot of discussion time in the expat community. One option that is often overlooked is trying out some of the upscale hotels.
Hotel Josef has recently overhauled its breakfast service, with not only bread ovens imported from France, but a chef as well. Since most hotel guests who come to Prague are interested mainly in just a place to sleep and a good breakfast before going out to sight see, the hotel’s owners have decided to put a new emphasis on the morning meal, according to Clementine Amiraux, the creative director of the hotel.
Rybná 20, Prague 1
Tel: 221 700 111
Mon–Fri 6:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Sat–Sun 6:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Price: 500 Kč per person
She says that in a city like Prague people show more interest in breakfast than in swimming pools and the like, but many hotels overlook the opportunity to provide a high-class breakfast.
The hotel offers its breakfast to people who are not guests of the hotel, and the owners are hoping to attract more locals on a regular basis. Reservations are recommended but walk-ins are allowed. While weekend brunch is one idea, the service is available every day but weekend hours are longer.
Hotel Josef offers more than a standard buffet of items on warming trays. There is also a menu with morning classics. You can eat from both and have unlimited hot and cold beverages for one fixed price of 500 Kč per person. Children over 10 eat at a discount. One menu selection per person comes with unlimited use of the generous and creative buffet.
This saves you the endless haggling at the end of the brunch over who ordered the extra butter and who had the extra juice, which can spoil an otherwise nice day.
Notable extras that you don’t often find are a vegetable juicer with a selection of fresh vegetables and fruit, so you can make your own ginger-carrot-lime-apple-pear juice just they way you like it. A blender is there for banana, fruit and milk smoothies. The staff is happy to assist in the use of the machines.
But the star of the breakfast is the fresh bread and pastries. Chef Nima Hemmat-Azad was raised in Paris and learned from master bakers there. He came to Prague just for the chance to run the new bakery at Hotel Josef. He starts his work day at 1 a.m. to prepare all the different types of dough, as each is different. The selection varies, but often includes American-style corn bread along with baguettes, dark-grain breads, croissants and many pastries and cakes.
His ovens are right in the dining room so you can see what is fresh and hot. He also loves to talk about bread and baking. His one pet peeve though, is when people but jam and butter on his already perfect croissants. A properly made croissant should already emphasize the real butter used in baking, he says.
The menu offers several breakfast classics and reminds you to ask about the specials. When we visited, the salmon mousse with a poached egg, a special, sounded good and went well with our overstacked plates from the buffet.
We also gave the mini-pancakes with maple syrup or caramel a try. Both were very good. The poached eggs were done just right and seemed made to order. The pancakes were make from the correct blend of flour — a little thicker than crepes but not as airy as a pastry.
The menu also has honey-sweetened porridge, eggs Benedict, eggs Florentine, eggs royal with smoked salmon, and options for omelets as you like them.
The buffet has enough variety that one can have breakfast cereals, warm vegetables, scrambled eggs, sliced salmon, fresh cheese and many little pastries and slices of bread with butter.
Certainly, there is no reason to leave hungry, and the selection encourages some creativity and experimentation. If you come with an appetite, it can also be a great value.
One of the few drawbacks is the lack of kids’ corner. No children were present the time we attended.
The design interior may also strike some people as not so cozy, but in the warmer months it is possible to sit in the hotel’s garden instead.