09 July 2007

First Watch: Various Locations

First Watch is a chain breakfast and lunch restaurant that closes at 2:30 pm, so you know their specialty is going to be brunch-like items. We don't intend to make it a habit of reviewing chain restaurants, but it's not an obnoxious chain, and they do have a lot of healthy options, so I think it is worth talking about.

Quality of food: 3.5
Quality of coffee: 3
Service: 2.5
Atmosphere: 3
Overall value: 3

Ok, first, the food. I have visited no less than four locations of First Watch throughout the Greater Cincinnati area, and I have tried the same dish in every location: the Key West Crepe. This is a fantastic combination of all my "fantasy team" brunch items: crepes, turkey, jack cheese, avocado, and bacon, with sides of potatoes, salsa, and some bread product toasted. They have several varieties of these "crepe-eggs" which are like a combination of a crepe and an omelette. This works even better for me since I don't eat eggs outright, but they are mixed in enough here so they do not cause problems.

Anyway, it's extremely tasty, as are many of the other menu items, including their salads. I would also highly recommend the Power Wrap, which is nutritious and low in calories but delicious. The really good thing about First Watch is that if you are on a special diet or watching your calories, all of the nutrition information is readily available.

What is most unfortunate about the food is the consistency. 4 out of 5 times I will not have a problem with my meal but on that 5th time, I might get something that is burnt or oily. This has never been so bad that it stopped me from eating it, I have to say.

The coffee at First Watch is fairly average, thus the 3 rating. The service, depending on what location and what time of day you go, can vary from acceptable to sketchy to downright bad. It's never been an issue with a particular server, but with the sheer volume of work that each one of them has to handle on any given day, thus resulting in our waiting times. The servers themselves are quite cheerful - they do, after all, wear pastel plaid. How can they not be cheerful?!

The atmosphere of your average First Watch is bustling and often times entertaining. There is some great people watching to be had here! I ate at the Downtown Cincinnati location one recent Saturday morning, lines were out the door as usual, and sitting right behind us were a couple of professional football players. The head-to-toe orange and black gear may have been an indicator but the amount of food on their tiny two-person table was the real give-away. We couldn't help but stare - not at the football players but at their food. It took 3 people to bring it all out, and well....it all looked so darn good.

So in conclusion, if you are actually still reading, First Watch is a pretty good overall value and definitely a tried and true Brunch destination. However, I would recommend it for beginners with a lot of spare time, as opposed to the "hair of the dog" crowd, since you are going to wait a while to get in, and well, they don't serve alcohol. (I should start deducting points for this....)

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