I’m not usually one for big chain breakfast restaurants. I’ve gone on record many times stating that I much prefer the small, mom & pop-style establishments. Recently, my sister and brother-in-law were set to meet us at the new Jack & Benny’s Barnstormer Grill in Dublin, but when we arrived, we discovered that they were closed for a long weekend. Disappointed, but still hungry, we decided to trot on over to the Perimeter Loop shopping plaza and give First Watch a try.
First Watch could be considered a large(ish) chain of casual, family style restaurants, with locations throughout thirteen states in the U.S. In Ohio, they’re located in most of the major cities, and we have eight right here in Columbus and the surrounding suburbs. They serve breakfast all day and have adopted the moniker, “The Daytime Café”, which I assume is because they’re not open for dinner. I had never eaten at a First Watch before, so I was interested in what we’d find.
I’m not sure about the other locations around Columbus, but the Dublin shop was pretty much what I expected. Everything was pretty clean-cut, uniformed, and just kind of…plain. It wasn’t uncomfortable by any means, however. On the contrary, the room was wide open and bright, thanks to the large windows on two sides, and seating was abundant. The house was packed during our visit, and there was a line waiting out the door shortly after we arrived. Our waitress was pleasant, but was busy and seemed hurried, which was understandable. She did come back and check on us several times though, which was nice.
One of the highlights of First Watch overall, in my opinion, is their menu. A lot of their breakfasts lean more toward the health conscious consumer, with many entrees containing a multitude of veggies and leaner meats like turkey and chicken. They have a wide range of unique omelets and hash-based breakfasts, and some mouth-watering griddle options as well. The morning we visited, their specials were a “Cinnybunn” pancake and a vegetarian Huevos Rancheros.
We started with coffee, which was a decent, diner brown version. Large coffee mugs were waiting on our table when we were seated, and after our server filled our cups, she left the carafe for us, which I was grateful for. She also brought a pitcher of ice water for the table, too.
I ordered one of their many hash breakfasts, the Parma Hash ($8.99). The dish consisted of two eggs atop a hash of seasoned potatoes, Italian sausage, house-roasted Crimini mushrooms, onions and tomatoes, with melted Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and fresh herbs. It came with a toasted English muffin and a small cup of fresh fruit.
The hash was very good and had excellent flavor. All of the elements were cooked well, and the eggs on top added more dimension to the dish. The portion sizes were generous, and I was impressed that I got a muffin and fruit even though I didn’t see them mentioned on the menu. I was satisfied with my meal, and would order this again, or would try one of their other hash dishes, on a return visit.
My son wanted the Chocolate Chip Pancake ($4.99) off the kids menu. I was surprised to find that his choice of beverage (in this case, chocolate milk) was included in the price of his meal. Nice touch! His pancake also came with his choice of bacon or sausage. He enjoyed his breakfast, as he always does…especially when it includes syrup!! Again, it was appropriately sized for a kid’s portion.
The Cinnybunn Breakfast ($8.29) was one of the daily specials, and was obviously designed to satisfy both the sweet and savory breakfast craving. It was a large, multi-grain flapjack swirled with a cinnamon filling and drizzled with a vanilla icing. It came with two slices of bacon and two eggs, cooked-to-order. I tried a bite of the pancake, and it was good, but a little too sweet for me. My sister enjoyed it quite a bit, as well as the other elements of her meal.
Here’s one of the more interesting items on the menu, the Chickichanga ($8.99). It’s a large flour tortilla filled with whipped eggs, spicy, white-meat chicken, chorizo, green chilies, cheddar and Monterey jack cheese, onions and avocado. It’s topped with a creamy salsa and sour cream, and was served with fruit and diced, seasoned potatoes. My bro-in-law said the contents of the tortilla were hot and flavorful, and it looked as though the tortilla itself might have been deep fried. He’s not a fan of onions, and the kitchen didn’t have any problems with his special request to omit them from his meal. The entrée looked really tasty, and although I didn’t get a chance to try it, I would possibly order this myself next time.
Overall, I believe First Watch is a decent breakfast/brunch chain and I wouldn’t hesitate to go again in a group of family or friends, but it’s probably not someplace I’d chose if it were just me & the wife and boy. The best part about the whole experience was definitely the food, as it is much more inspired and trendier than, say, Bob Evans or Perkins. The only downside to their menu was that their kid’s section was pretty small (3 breakfast choices and 3 lunch choices), although it covered the basics of what most kids order anyway, and the drink was included in the price, so that was good. The wait staff was decent, and service from the kitchen was really good for as busy as they were this particular morning. It was neat, and clean, and about as corporate-y as I like to get. Although I can’t speak for the other locations around Cbus, as for the Dublin First Watch restaurant, all-in-all it was a pleasant experience.
The First Watch that we visited is located at 6768 Perimeter Loop Rd, Dublin, OH 43017 (Map). They’re hours are Monday – Sunday, 7:00 AM – 2:30 PM. For more info on this restaurant and other First Watch locations, you can visit their website or their Facebook page.