Br(u)no: When You Need Fuel in the Morning
Photo credit: Freepik / For illustrative purposes.
My first morning in Brno was a rough one. I had drunk a not insignificant amount of beer the night before and I wasn’t feeling so great. I needed some breakfast. The greasier and the fatter the better.
There was a McDonald’s but they didn’t serve breakfast back then. I walked everywhere, searching for a place to get a couple of eggs and some sausage to fill the acidic pit in my stomach. At the time, I was only a couple of months removed from New York City, where I had a dozen diners within four blocks of my Hell’s Kitchen apartment. Now, I was in a town that seemed to ignore breakfast completely.
Eventually, I stumbled upon Hotel Pegas on Jakubská. The door was open and a man was doing something inside. I asked if they served breakfast. He said no, but hotel guests above the restaurant got breakfast, and they could probably fix one for me.
It was a godsend.
(A little bit of customer service can go a long way. Later that day, I checked out of my lame hotel and moved to the Pegas Hotel for the next two nights of my initial stay in Brno. Plus, in the 14 years since, I have sent many paying customers there.)
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As Brno has grown and taken on a more professional class of young people, restaurant culture has blossomed. This is particularly true for dinner and lunch. But it has also raised the bar for breakfast.
With the weather getting colder, school starting and people returning to more regular office hours (despite the uptick of coronavirus infections), it might be a good time to point out some places to get some morning fuel or have a leisurely meeting. Lately, I have had occasion to try some of the breakfast spots around town. The results are mixed, but encouraging.
From an American point of view, there are definitely some differences. I’ve not found the regular New York City diner fare: two eggs, sausages, hash browns, two pieces of buttered toast and a bottomless (and constantly-being-topped-off) cup of hot coffee. Here, the eggs are usually scrambled and come in threes. Salad, for some reason, is often included.
In any case, here are some tips, in no particular order, for the basic eggs-and-meat plate from several places around town:
• Campus Bistro. Scrambled eggs, with ham and onions, and bread and a small salad are a good deal for 77 kc. I think this is the best overall experience in Brno. Given that it is in Campus Square, there are always people around and the airy atmosphere has energy. Plus, there are big tables where you can pull out the laptop and do some work. Click here for more information.
• Campus River. For a more traditional restaurant feel, this Campus Square restaurant has a lot of smaller tables and also a surprising amount of people. The “Hemenex” is a solid breakfast — three eggs, ham and bread — for 89 kc. They also have an English Breakfast for 125 kc. Click here for more information.
• Kavárna Spolek. This is a lively place in the evening, but they don’t exactly get how to serve breakfast. They have the normal fare, but you have to order correctly. Apparently you have to ask for bread separately. Who knew? Not me. It’s on Orlí Street.
• Klafe Bed and Breakfast. Near the top of Kravi Hora, this small café is a nice spot to relax. “Breakfast” is in the name and they have expanded their menu to include many options, including the normal-around-here three-scrambled eggs options. It’s a cozy place where it is nice to read the newspaper. Click here for more information.
• Gourmet Café Restaurant. This restaurant was dead at 8:15 a.m. on a weekday in the summer, so I got my breakfast to go. I’ve never done that before and, though it cost extra for the packaging, it wasn’t a bad move. The food was decent. In general, the pricing is not exactly easy to understand. Click here for more information.
•McDonald’s. The perfect (partial) cure for a hangover: Sausage and egg McMuffin and hash browns. Sometimes two. The grease soaks up the alcohol and makes you right. It’s a calorie bomb, though, that only adds to the alcohol calories of the previous night.
• IKEA. On a recent Wednesday morning, a dozen people were waiting in front of the store, but not for the practical furniture (because the show rooms opened at 9 a.m.). They were waiting for the breakfast, which is served from 8:30 a.m. It is admittedly lame to suggest an international behemoth furniture store for breakfast, but they do offer a good deal. At 19 kc per 100g you can get a lot of over-hard eggs, sausages, hashbrowns and, I hate to say this, the freshest and best croissants I’ve had in this city.
• Kentucky Fried Chicken. Big mistake. We stopped by once when we went to do some shopping. We were pretty much the only people in the restaurant near Olympia Shopping Mall and it still took a while to get the food. When it came, the eggs were like rubber. Lame.
• Karlova Pekarna. There are many places around Brno to get fresh bread in the morning. Usually, it is fresh. Often there is a quick-moving line. The quality is high. But it’s basically just bread.
• East Village Diner. This restaurant arrived in town with great fanfare, boasting of breakfast and bottomless cups of coffee. They still have breakfast but, since they open in the late morning, it is more for brunch or, presumably late-night fare. In many visits, I never did see a bagel, which had been promised on their first menus. Click here for their breakfast menu.
• Café Placzek. Reportedly this place has great breakfast, if only from the glances at the outside tables where people were eating. Click here for more information.
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What are your favorite places? This list is light on the North End of Brno, where I tried to find a place by driving around for half an hour and failed miserably. Are there any decent places in the center? Please share.