First Watch has a new look, ethos, and fantastic new approach to daytime eating | Restaurant rating | Orlando
click to enlarge
Everyone’s favorite institutional breakfast place went and got a facelift that even the witness protection program would be impressed with. The place is almost unrecognizable from your father’s first watch. I know, I know, you think okay, but it’s still a place for the blue haired set to have dinner at 2 p.m., right? Yes, First Watch will likely always be a bastion for sixty-year-olds, but I’ve seen more than a couple of TikToking 20-year-olds posing and playing in front of their phone cameras on two visits recently. In fact, thanks to its new coveted Winter Park address and the “urban farm” aesthetic with an appealing terrace area and a 360-degree indoor / outdoor terrace, this upper floor of daytime cafés exudes a bit of casual boasting. Hoity new breakfast cocktails, who is that?
The place bangs positive no matter what day. We were lucky enough to get hold of a table outside on a wonderful and hectic Sunday afternoon – a day when cheerful greetings at the front door kept the waiting guests cheerful. It was all smiles and happy faces, mine included. In fact, a bite of Chicichanga ($ 11.79) expanded it. The flour tortilla is filled with chicken, beaten eggs, chorizo, and avocado, but surprisingly not fried. The new First Watch doesn’t use deep fryers at all in the kitchen, so the cheese roll isn’t nearly as filling as a traditional chimi. Green chilies and sauteed onions add some depth, but even a topping with veracruz sauce and sour cream didn’t weigh it down. It’s served with a small cup of fresh fruit and spiced potatoes, some of which were firm rather than fluffy.
click to enlarge
However, the lemon ricotta pancakes ($ 10.69) were very fluffy. Whipped ricotta cheese is added to the multigrain batter before they’re grilled, and yes, I could eat these beauties for breakfast pretty much every day – strawberries, creamy lemon curd, and everything. “I don’t know why, but the boys always seem to order those pancakes,” said our good-natured waiter. “That’s probably why they don’t live that long,” my wife said as she dug into a plate of biscuits and gravy ($ 10.99). I gave her a look. “What? That’s turkey sausage sauce, ”she said, and fished a fork full.
The earthenware platter with meaty sauce, cookies, eggs, and potatoes looked irresistible, and a look at the menu showed that the dish is 70 calories fewer than the pancakes. So I reached over and stole some of it, then took a sip of the “Morning Meditation” ($ 4.49) – a mixture of orange, lemon, and beet juice, flavored with organic ginger and turmeric. It can be drank with New Amsterdam’s gluten-free vodka, as can the kale tonic ($ 4.49) mixed with Fuji apple juice, cucumber, and lemon.
The prototype of First Watch’s flagship location also has a kitchen and entrance for takeout orders, which we tested for lunch one day. The process from ordering online to collecting it was a breeze and the containers and packaging were solid. It made the roast beef horseradish havarti sandwich, which is served on sourdough with a parmesan crust ($ 10.29), as well as the “raised” egg sandwich with Gruyère, smashed avocado, and platters of their famous “million dollar bacon” ($ 10) 99 USD) all the more pleasant. This bacon, by the way, is smoked in hardwood and baked with brown sugar, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup. A side order of four plates is $ 5.49 (and gets you 530 calories).
To be honest, the older I get, the more I appreciate restaurants with a healthy lifestyle. First Watch does this consciously through the rebranding of the company and the menu revision, but also unconsciously. Now when I drive down North Orlando Avenue and see the restaurant’s marquee, my head reads First Watch … Your Calories. Well played.