Oh what a difference breakfast makes – after all, it’s the only meal that some actually eat in a hotel. Resorts do breakfast buffets splendidly. When it comes to city hotels, Dorchester Collection’s THE EDEN ROME and PRINCIPE DI SAVOIA stand out (what is it about Italian food, and Dorchester Collection, come to think of it – let us hope that their forthcoming LANA in Dubai can live up to brand standards). City hotels in the US do not think buffets are luxury and they go for horrid composed plates: their idea of a plain egg platter is to drown the poor eggs in hash brown potatoes and gigantic tomatoes and goodness knows what else.
When it comes to country house hotels, some can excel. Red Carnation’s SUMMER LODGE, in Dorset England, has a bijou half-buffet which is outstanding for quality of products, from creamy and taste-ful yoghurt through to moist, juicy and flavourful smoked salmon. They bring a variety of cooked-to-orders but honestly the bijou is enough especially when you realise how superb the still-warm breads, brought hot-foot from Evershot Bakery, about 200 metres away.
Japan is good on buffets. Hilton has great fare in its main Tokyo property, and its club lounge breakfasts are good, as are The Ritz-Carltons, and Hyatts. In Israel, shabat hotels – which is the majority – favour buffets, for reasons that also include labour. Wow, those buffets at DAVID KEMPINSKI in Tel Aviv and (the non-Shabat) SIX SENSES SHAHARUT.
THE NORMAN TEL AVIV is not shabat and not kosher but for some reason it does not do buffets (the only failing, honestly, in a hotel that is otherwise raising the 100% standard). Instead, sit at sage leather-topped tables, listening to soft music, while your choice is brought. A basic set breakfast comes with two eggs, any-way, bread basket and a beverage. From the à la carte, choose a fish platter (see image above), namely taramasalata, smoked salmon with onion, herring chunks, and whole sardine, with diagonal halves of toasted brioche in a rack. Style, but this is The Norman, which just oozes that big-S word. Other à la carte offerings include The Norman French toast, toasted brioche with fruit, crème fraîche, and maple syrup.
All this will of course set you up for the day but what else is going on in the world of food?
Riyadh saw a near-surfeit of Italian food this week, when the Italian Embassy held a Slow Food presentation at AlUla, 22-23 November. Chefs flown in include Pino Maggiore, who has run Sicily’s Trapani restaurant for 40-plus years. Saudi culinary students were introduced to the Ark of Taste project, an admirable initiative that has so far catalogued nearly 6,000 products in 151 countries that are at risk of disappearing.
Also this week, RITZ-CARLTON MONTREAL’s Maison Boulud chef Romain Cagnat has been offering four-hand tasting menus, partnering with Alexandre Vachon, chef of another great Canadian hotel, MANOIR HOVEY. That promotion ends tonight.