Tuesday, Nov 21, 2017
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Restaurant Reviews

First Watch a pleasant twist on breakfast

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    Chile Chorizo Omelet at First Watch.

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    Carrot Cake Multigrain Pancakes at First Watch.

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    Millionaire's Bacon at First Watch.

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    Chickichanga at First Watch.

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    Carrot Cake Multigrain Pancakes with Pork Sausage at First Watch.

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    Market Skillet Hash from First Watch.

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    Farmer's Biscuit Sandwich at First Watch.

The Toledo area has plenty of restaurants where diners can get a tasty and hearty breakfast, but the opening of First Watch at 3410 Secor Rd. brings with it a twist on tradition.

The restaurant specializes in made-to-order breakfast and lunch with fresh ingredients without using heat lamps and deep fryers.

First Watch is a chain based in Bradenton, Fla., with more than 300 locations in 27 states, but the Secor Road location is the first in northwest Ohio.

Mid-morning visits on two recent Saturdays resulted in a wait time of at least 20 minutes, but with complimentary coffee available the time passed quickly. A text message alerts diners when their table is available. Unfortunately, the waiting area is small, which is fine in warm weather but will pose issues with winter’s arrival.

The breakfast menu features plenty of eggs (cage-free), bacon, potatoes, and pancakes, but it is also laden with fresh vegetables and fruits. Its appeal comes in the unexpected combinations of its dishes.

First Watch

★★★½

Address: 3410 Secor Rd., Suite 550

Phone: 419-930-8036

Category: Casual

Menu: Breakfast/lunch

Hours: 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily

Wheelchair access: Yes

Average price: $-$$

Credit cards: AE, MC, V, D

Website: firstwatch.com

Take for instance, the Farmer’s Biscuit Sandwich ($9.49) from the seasonal menu. It takes traditional ingredients — (all-natural) pork sausage, an over-easy egg, sharp cheddar cheese on a grilled, freshly baked biscuit — and takes them to a new level by topping it with lemon-dressed arugula, mayonnaise, and apple butter. We passed on the mayo, but otherwise, it was delicious. The odd-sounding addition of sweet apple butter was the best part. It’s served with a side of fresh, seasoned potatoes.

The Millionaire’s Bacon ($4.99), also from the seasonal menu, was another standout. Four slices of hardwood smoked bacon are drizzled with brown sugar, black pepper, cayenne, and maple syrup, and baked until perfectly crisp. It's a delicious sweet-and-savory combination that makes standard bacon seem ordinary.

The Eggs Benedict Florentine ($10.99) and the Market Hash ($10.89) showcase First Watch’s appreciation for produce.

The Florentine, one of several available Benedicts, begins with toasted ciabatta piled with fresh baby spinach, avocado, and tomato, and covered with a delicate hollandaise sauce. It was accompanied by lightly dressed mixed greens. The ciabatta was a nice variation from the traditional English muffin.

The Market Skillet Hash features seasoned potatoes, roasted crimini mushrooms, zucchini, shallots, red peppers, baby spinach, melted mozzarella, and herbed goat cheese, and topped with two eggs of the diner’s choice. The overeasy egg yolk and the goat cheese resulted in a wonderful creaminess that tied the ingredients together. The accompanying whole-grain artisan toast was a pleasantly surprising side dish.

One of the heartier meals was the Chickichanga ($10.79), First Watch's take on a breakfast burrito with whipped eggs, white-meat chicken, chorizo, green chilies, a blend of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, onions, and avocado rolled in a flour tortilla. The outside was very crispy, but it was well garnished with sour cream and pico de gallo to keep it from being dry.

The Chile Chorizo ($9.99) folded Chorizo, avocado, green chilies, roasted onions, and cheddar and Monterey Jack into an omelet and served it with sour cream and housemade pico de gallo. It was filling and had a lot of flavor.

The Carrot Cake Stack (two for $6.49) had a good mix of spices, and the pecans were a nice touch, but the crunchiness of the carrots was a bit too much.

We did dabble in lunch fare by ordering the Sweet Honey Pecan Salad ($9.59) and the Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowl ($9.89).

Organic greens, romaine, tomatoes, and carrots are topped with grilled chicken strips, bacon, toasted pecans, avocado, and a drizzle of warm honey Dijon dressing. The salad was so fresh that when I reached for leftovers 48 hours later it was no worse for the wear.

The bowl was a satisfying blend of nutty quinoa and a mountain of fresh-vegetables — kale, shredded carrots, and house-roasted tomatoes — topped with lemon-marinated strips of chicken breast, basil pesto, a blend of herbs, and bits of feta cheese. The tasty concoction somehow was light yet filling.

It’s also worth mentioning that coffee arrives at the table in a pot ($2.69) that is refilled upon request and the orange juice ($2.49 small, $3.59 large) is housemade.

The staff is friendly, but not overly attentive. Given how busy the restaurant was on our visits, it’s unclear whether our experience was an anomaly. 

After only scratching the surface of First Watch’s menu, we look forward to visiting again.

Contact Bill of Fare at: fare@theblade.

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