First Watch is a Florida-based brunch and lunch fresh market haven. Think of a healthier spin on traditional brunch foods with some an assortment of green juices available.
The interior looks like someone opened up a can of hipster shabby chic decor, from the rustic signs that proclaim its farm fresh mentality to the random slabs of wood hanging from the ceiling. From mid-morning on, they usually have a wait – especially on the weekends. However, I found that the estimated wait times on Yelp to be quite accurate – in this case, I waited until it said 0 minutes wait time, then got in.
This visit included smoked salmon eggs Benedict, a Parma skillet hash (available only in select locations), and a side of biscuits and gravy.
The smoked salmon eggs Benedict ($12.99), is their own self-proclaimed “egg-sclusive,” that uses toasted ciabatta instead of a standard English muffin and is topped with thinly sliced sockeye, red onions, and tomatoes. Unfortunately, the flavor was about as thin as that portion of salmon: thick cut tomatoes overpowered the entire dish and the ciabatta, while lovely in theory, failed to hold up to the task. The result was a chewy, soggy, tomato-flavored experience with the occasional pop from red onion. The hollandaise sauce was lackluster and was difficult to differentiate in its flavor from the runny egg and unless you ate the salmon on its own, its look and taste was pretty much absent.
Eggs Benedict is usually pretty good wherever you have it, even if the sauce is questionable (as revealed in in Anthony Bourdain’s classic, Kitchen Confidential). In fact, my partner and I talked about how we never had a bad experience with it…until First Watch. Its main flavor profile was disappointment and the only redeeming factor was that it “felt” healthy (at 630 calories, you could do worse).
Speaking of worse for you, the biscuits and gravy ($4.99) was pretty good. A side portion turned out to be a very large bowl. The biscuits were soft and moist, the entire bowl was covered in turkey sausage.
While it wasn’t pretty to look at, the sheer quantity of gravy made up for its use of turkey sausage instead of pork. For a country gravy, it fairly light (personally, I think it could use a dose of some rosemary and black pepper). However, for $5, it was worth every penny.
The next dish was the skillet hash (two eggs topping seasoned potatoes, $10.99). Here, you could choose from three different options: Farmhouse, parma, and market. I went with the parma, which included Italian sausage, house-roasted crimini mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes with melted Parmesan, Mozzarella, and fresh herbs.
The overhead view of this plate was nothing impressive. It came with something akin to a stainless steel Dixie cup of fruit along with some toast and jam. However, sliding the perspective down revealed something much more appetizing: a bowl happily filled with potatoes and flavor.
The parma skillet was my favorite dish of the day. The Crimini mushrooms popped with unexpected flavor every time into one, not unlike a nice caper (and speaking of capers, tht’s something else the smoked salmon eggs Benedict could have used to coax some more flavor out). The cheese provided a nice crust on the seasoned potatoes. The over-easy eggs ran down like a thick, satisfying sauce that paired nicely with some hot sauce (Cholula on the table). Switching between this wonderful bowl of food and the biscuits and gravy made up for the salty tears that erupted from the sadness of bad Beendict (note: salty tears would have also made the smoked salmon taste more like salmon).
When coupled with some coffee and a cup of grapefruit juice, the total added up to over $40 so it was definitely on the pricey end of brunch (and we didn’t even get mimosas!). I definitely liked the place but First Watch wouldn’t be my first choice for brunch.
First Watch (multiple locations – click here).