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Friday, April 6th, 2018
Dining Reviews

First Watch – Take Back Your Morning

Spring Break gives me an opportunity to spend time with my daughter, Grace. At age 7, she needs a more updated title than Tiny Diner, but I’m loath to give up on it—yet. We took advantage of her holiday to have a Daddy and Daughter breakfast at First Watch, located in a shopping center near the Mid-Bay Bridge. They open at 7 a.m., and serve breakfast, brunch and lunch items until 2:30 p.m.

First Watch is a fairly large place, with plenty of window space, making for a bright and cheery atmosphere. Inside the door is a rectangular dining area, with well-spaced tables, booths and banquettes, floored and paneled in blonde and darker wood. The walls are decorated with colorful posters and paintings. There’s an open-view kitchen in the back, and what looked like a semi-private dining area off to one side. It was quiet when we entered at around 9 a.m., but a steady stream of late-risers soon followed.

Grace and I got a table with banquette seating facing the window. The server brought me a pot of coffee, and a chocolate milk for mademoiselle. Water came in a carafe shaped like a milk bottle, which enhanced the sunny, breakfast-on-vacation feel. Breakfast is not a meal I usually eat, except when traveling, so dining out in the morning is a sometime thing for me. For my daughter, it suggests eating in a hotel, which seems to give her an appetite.

The menu at First Watch offers pancakes, waffles and French toast, egg dishes, omelets and frittatas, healthy options, gluten-free power bowls, sides and small plates, salads, and sandwiches. There are also juice bar choices and assorted beverages. The kids’ menu is a flat-rate price for a choice of waffles, pancakes, French toast or crepe, bacon and eggs, grilled cheese and ham or turkey sandwich. The price includes beverage, which is a nice deal.

Grace had studied the menu the previous evening, and chose a fruit crepe, with sourdough toast. I’m not a fan of eggs, but was happy to order a stack of lemon ricotta pancakes, with side orders of bacon and chicken sausage patties. I ordered a meal to go for my wife—the TriFecta with scrambled eggs, turkey sausage links and a Belgian waffle.

Grace is easy to dine with—she does the talking and is still young enough to stare at people without giving offense. And—thanks be—she takes enormous delight in all things, no matter how seemingly insignificant. She loved the glasses, the silverware, the cooks preparing meals in the back, and the stuff on the walls. When our food arrived, she waxed ecstatic over the colorful crepe.

It is pretty—a neatly rolled crepe, filled and topped with blueberries and sliced strawberries, drizzled with strawberry yogurt and dusted with cinnamon sugar. There was a small dish of granola, and some fruit preserves for the toast.

I got two good-sized pancakes. The batter contains whipped ricotta, which gives the pancakes both depth and lift, and a balance of sweet with tart. They are topped with strawberries and lemon curd. Four sturdy slices of crisp bacon and two chicken sausage patties were more than enough (one of the patties went home). You don’t need syrup with the pancake, but the server brought a pitcher of warm syrup, so I had to give it a small taste. They had gone and warmed it, after all.

My wife later vouched for the fluffiness of the scrambled eggs, and both waffle and turkey sausage made the trip home in good shape. The waffle is huge, also fluffy.

Other menu choices include avocado toast, egg white omelet with turkey, granola bowl, “superfoods” bowl with fruit and coconut milk-chia seed pudding, steel-cut hot oatmeal, biscuits and turkey sausage gravy, egg sandwich, variations of eggs Benedict, spicy “chickichanga” in a tortilla, omelets with bacon, avocado, chorizo, ham and gruyere, Italian sausage, roasted vegetables, and smoked salmon, quinoa bowls, salads, and sandwich choices including club, BLT with egg, turkey burger, roast beef and havarti, ham and gruyere or chicken salad melt, and veggie burger.

No alcohol is served, but there are some bracing freshly juiced blends like Morning Meditation (with turmeric and ginger) or kale tonic with apple and cucumber. There’a also tea and traditional breakfast juices, milk and hot chocolate.

Whether you’re out for a taste of vacation or just drove a few miles, it’s worth your while to stand the First Watch.



FIRST WATCH

4427 Commons Drive East

Destin

850-460-9800

Hours: Open daily, 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Reservations: Accepted for large parties only—has No-Wait app.

Children’s Menu: Yes

Dress: Casual

Stand the First Watch and start your day off early with breakfast, or sleep in and have brunch or lunch. Bright and cheerful atmosphere, fresh hot coffee by the pot, and a variety of hearty and healthy choices. There’s eggs all ways, omelets, pancakes, waffles and French toast, oatmeal, breakfast bowls, salads, and sandwiches, with bacon, sausage and other sides. Freshly made juice drinks. Open daily for breakfast and lunch, $5-12.