Friday, September 5, 2014

First Watch Breakfast Review

The Traditional

All through high school (and a year or two of college) I spent an inordinate amount of time at a nearby coffee shop along Route 1. Long since gone (I think it's now a Busboys and Poets) I equated it with comfort... always a free table, friendly service, etc. My food of choice? Breakfast, no matter what the time. Nowadays, choices are slim (and surprisingly expensive.) Denny's & IHOP? Bordering on gross. "Fancy" diners like Open City and Tryst? Too trendy. Enter First Watch... a hybrid of sorts. Simple, healthier fare, spotlessly clean and (most important) comfortable. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the mid-80's... in all its culinary splendor.

Lest you mistake it for a "Mom and Pop" establishment, keep in mind that First Watch is a national chain with nearly 150 locations (and growing.) I stopped by their Rockville Town Square digs earlier this week to give it my first try. Service was warm and extra-friendly (thank you Claire!) She took me to my seat, and stayed to serve me (no hand-offs here, I like that.) The atmosphere is laid back; but without the irksome indifference you encounter at the aforementioned Denny's. The dining area is very clean (there are tables outside too, under a forest of shade... glorious) and seating is very comfy (no tight booths.)

Pumpkin Pancake Breakfast

The menu is deceptively ample: Breakfast and lunch (all First Watch locations close at 2:30 PM) with tons of healthy options (i.e. Quinoa Bowls, Power Wraps, etc.) I decided to keep it simple... The Traditional (two eggs, sunny side-up, an english muffin, grilled ham steak and a mountain of seasoned potatoes - $8.19) and their $8.49 Pumpkin Pancake Breakfast special with two scrambled eggs and turkey sausage links. One final touch? A LARGE glass of delicious, fresh squeezed orange juice for $3.39.

Since I don't always clear my plate, I asked for both orders to be served at the same time. The Traditional won me over with exceptional potatoes and a surprisingly non-salty (but tasty) ham steak. Muffins come pre-buttered (Smucker's jams at your table) but a wee-bit under-toasted: In my book, an english muffin has to be crunchy. Eggs were a touch overdone, but not enough to complain about. The potatoes deserve a second mention... They were truly outstanding, and well-seasoned.

The Pumpkin Pancake Breakfast was good (with the potential to be great.) For starters, you must try the pancake: Pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors, and translates super-well to a pancake. First Watch's standard syrup smells Heavenly (while still in the dispenser, no less.) Turkey sausage was dry, but tasty: I wasn't expecting pork-like juiciness, but a little bit of moisture would be nice. As for the eggs, I want scrambled eggs to look... scrambled. "Mini omelettes" tend to be drier too. A little color wouldn't hurt either (a dash of green, something.) Regardless, the pancake is enough to put a huge smile on your face; so don't miss it.

First Watch seems custom built for repeat visits. Best of all, their menu becomes almost exotic, the deeper you explore. French Toast Monte Cristo, Bacon and Onion Hash and the delightfully named Not Guilty Your Honor... Trust me, you're not going to get bored, eating here 2-3 times a week. Stellar customer service and affordable prices seal the deal; and the outdoor oasis screams, "Eat here!" All they need now... is an 80's soundtrack to round out my sentimental visit back in time.