A Day With Brno's Award-winning Restaurant Owners
I stood in the center of Brno’s historical city center, Zelny Trh Square, in the Czech Republic, and cursed my lack of wifi. I was on a self-guided tour to interview the restaurant winners of Gourmet Brno 2017 and needed to map out my route. My first stop was Café Momenta. Fruit, vegetable, and flower vendors of Cabbage Market Square bustled around me, as my eyes scanned the area for the restaurant. Within a few moments, I spotted a charming cafe with awning-covered windows and walked to the entrance.
Me: What is your specialty?
Owner: We specialize in a mix of Belgium and French-style homemade cakes and sweets made from the highest quality ingredients.
How is Café Momenta unique?
We buy fresh fruits and vegetables at Cabbage Market Square - the farmer’s market located right outside our door. We strive for local and organic produce. If we are missing ingredients, we buy it from the market. The market is open every day but Sunday.
What would you like people to know about your cafe?
The first thing is we use local food. Secondly, we hire people who are highly qualified with excellent customer service. We look for people who care about their job. We ask our bakers’ opinions about the desserts. The staff has ideas. We listen to them. Everyone has the opportunity to taste the desserts and approve them.
Every month we offer new desserts. About forty percent of our desserts change according to the season.
Do you offer other menu items?
Our coffee is unique. Every time we select new desserts, we choose coffee to pair with it.
A wide array of coffee is served, mostly from small roasters. We use only the best coffee. We have coffee from Germany and Hungry, amongst other places.
Me: How did Cupcakekárna get its start?
Owners: It wasn’t the goal to have a restaurant, at first we wanted to have a coffee shop, but decided there were too many coffee shops in Brno. We began to research and discovered Brno did not have a cupcake shop. Cupcakekárna was the first specialty cupcake shop in the Czech Republic.
How do you select your bakers?
The task was easy. We just had bakers make cupcakes, and we tasted them.
Our bakers are self-taught. We believe this is an advantage in our field. The main thing we looked for were people who were passionate about baking. Their education wasn’t necessary for us.
What are your favorite things about Cupcakekárna?
We enjoy the relationship we have with our customers. We love when they taste our cupcakes and express how good they are. Also, our staff. Amongst us, there is good cooperation and teamwork.
We also take pride in the cream we use on our cupcakes: Mascarpone Buttercream. It is different than a US buttercream. It's lighter.
Do you change your menu?
Every month we change our menu. We sell sixteen flavors, with five new flavors a month. We bake according to the season. In summer, we bake with fresh fruit. In the fall, we may use cinnamon or apples. We like the idea of using different flavors, colors, and fruit for our cupcakes.
Me: Why is your restaurant called 4rooms (4pokoje)?
One of the Owners: 4rooms represents four parts of a day. We are opened twenty-two hours and the day begins with breakfast. Next, comes our lunch menu. We offer two vegetable dishes and two classic meat meals. After, is our coffee and drinks after work. We begin the fourth part of the day with our dinner menu. It starts at seven and kicks off with a party atmosphere.
We’ve only been opened six months (in 2017). This is the first time this point of view has been created. Its a mixture of coffee, a cocktail bar, breakfast cafe, and bistro. We are cooking for twenty-two hours.
What type of food do you offer?
We have a variety of food: Mexican, Czech, Asian cuisine. We work with fourteen chefs to offer customers different foods from different places. Sometimes we add traditional Czech food without twists. Our menu is always changing.
How do you prepare your food?
We strive to make everything from scratch, without preservatives and additives. Everything is homemade. All from scratch. For example, we have homemade sausage, buns, mustard, and ketchup.
We are really proud of our roast beef. The roast beef is marinated in mustard for seven days. An egg benedict with an Asian twist is our most popular dish. It is named after Pope Benedict 17th: Egg Benedict 17th. It’s a poached egg on roast beef with ginger mustard, soy sprouts, and cheese, mixed with an Asian twist.
What inspired the design of 4rooms?
It took us one year to design 4rooms. We transformed an ugly space and made it look new. The furniture, bar, lighting was all uniquely designed for our restaurant. There are seven different types of wood on our floor. Our bar is not linear like most - it is fluid. A craftsman crafted the steel and leatherwork on our bar stools. We call the stools, “Cowboy Chairs.”
The same architects that designed Super Panda Circus, designed 4pokoje.
Note: This post does not cover all of the Gourmet Brno 2017 winners. I am currently working on dictating more interview feed for another post. Thanks for reading!