There’s nothing we like better than waking up in the morning in a hotel. Not so much because of the soft bed or the view from the window, as because of the breakfast. When it comes to breakfast, Israeli hotels often go for quantity over quality, but I’m happiest when I find plenty of sweet and savory pastries alongside a good selection of cheeses, sausages, all kinds of eggs, lots of vegetables, pickled or smoked fish and a nice array of desserts. This week we happened upon such a breakfast in a small boutique hotel in Jaffa; it was surprisingly good, and could easily have been missed.
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What was so appealing about it? The relatively small but beautiful and perfectly assembled buffet, as well as the relatively modest price. And the bonus: the adjacent bakery that instantly transports you to Paris.
Market House, a boutique hotel in the heart of the Jaffa flea market, has been open for just over a year and a half. As one finds in small hotels abroad, the nicely designed lobby also has an intimate dining space with a modest buffet at the back.
At first glance, the Market House buffet almost looks disappointing, but upon closer inspection, you find smallish bowls filled with fresh salads, cheeses and pickled fish, as well as some more original offerings. There’s a platter of hard and soft cheeses made from cows’ milk and sheep’s milk, a cherry tomato salad with huge chunks of mozzarella, a salad of herbs and almonds, a refreshing tabbouleh salad with lots of toasted almonds, a green salad, a very fresh chopped vegetable salad and a salad of coarsely sliced raw vegetables comprised of carrots, small firm cucumbers, radish, kohlrabi, red onion and herbs. There’s also wonderfully rich matjes herring, as well as superb smoked salmon – so good that even if it were served at an acclaimed restaurant, we’d still be in awe of its quality. In addition, there’s an antipasti platter of sweet potatoes, kohlrabi, fennel, peppers and zucchini; a crispy spinach and cheese pastry and a stand where you can assemble your own sabich, a pita sandwich of fried eggplant and hard-boiled eggs.
On another counter we found a great selection of breads, rolls, mouth-watering croissants, homemade jams, flax and chia seeds, dried fruits, granola, four kinds of halvah and two delectable cakes: a cheesecake with crumb topping, and a terrifically moist chocolate cake from the adjacent Milk Bakery.
This is not the classic Israeli buffet, but an attempt to “go small.” There are no heaping mounds of food, but instead, deliberately small amounts that are frequently replenished. On the table is a menu listing the types of eggs one can order – all kinds of omelets, red or green shakshuka, and a Jaffa-style masbaha. The green shakshuka, which contained Turkish spinach and mangold, was enjoyable despitean excess of cumin. The masbaha was quite good too, despite the glaring absence of smooth and creamy hummus underneath it. Due to the constraints of kashrut, there is no classic eggs Benedict or croquemadame on the eggs menu, but with a little creativity, there’s no reason that something similar might not be added later. There are free refills on coffee (the iced coffee is excellent) and a variety of fresh-squeezed juices, including beet-apple. We found the service very pleasant and attentive, on two separate visits.
Pastry chef Adi Kihan studied at the Culinary Institute LeNtre in Paris and has worked in a number of top places. In the space connected to the hotel lobby she has opened a small bakery. In the display case are sweet and savory pastries, yeast cakes, cookies and doughnuts. On a sunny Friday we found Florentine cookies; a marvelous Sicilian cassata; raspberry, lemon and chocolate tartlets; and even candied orange rind. Everything is beautifully made. There are seasonal specials and homemade jams and marmalades. Outside there are several minimalist tables where you can have a cup of good Diama coffee (capsules of which are on sale).