Breakfast Bliss

First Watch, 1431 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville. 410-602-1595 | http://www.firstwatch.com | On Twitter: @First_Watch

There’s nothing I love more for lunch than breakfast. There’s just something about a forkful of fluffy scrambled eggs followed by a forkful of yummy, buttery french toast drenched in good maple syrup. Just writing about it makes me want to eat breakfast right now.

I don’t know when my love for breakfast started. Nor do I care. It’s just something about the symphony of flavors and textures of breakfast foods. Maybe it also has something to do with the symbolism a fresh, flavorful breakfast holds: renewed optimism at the start of a new day. I can get very quixotic about breakfast foods, so let me stop now before I lose my train of thought.

I met my mother for an impromptu lunch at First Watch in Pikesville the other day. I love First Watch for its simple yet sophisticated wholesome breakfast menu. Their food is made fresh and there’s a certain sense of healthfulness that I get in each bite. I’m not just eating french toast. I’m eating french toast that is good for me. First Watch’s fare is a long way from the greasy, oversized portions you’d get from the local diner. Don’t get me wrong. First Watch has some of the most generous-sized pancakes around. But they’re not gluttony-inducing, artery-clogging pancakes; they’re just good for you.

Perfect example: yesterday I ordered First Watch’s Banana Crunch Pancake with Granola. (First Watch boasts an impressive assortment of whole grain pancakes, BTW.) Everything about that pancake — the sweetness of the banana and the savory crunchiness of the granola — was perfect, blissful. So what it’s 890 calories. Those 890 calories were holy and pleasing and acceptable to my stomach. I felt smarter, happier and healthier for having eaten them. I know you’re probably snickering, thinking about the butter and syrup (and extra calories) that obviously accompanied the pancake, but I am refusing to mention. Unspoken calories are just that: unspoken.

The point I am trying to make is that First Watch’s breakfast food is divine. From their light, airy egg dishes, to their healthful (read: well seasoned, not greasy) First Watch potatoes, to their wonderful array of fresh sandwiches, soups and salads, First Watch gives standard fare a healthy twist.

The interior decor was bright, cheerful and comforting. The soothing greens, subtle oranges and sunny yellows on the walls and accents reflected the bright, sunny promise of the morning. First Watch, named for the first shift of a sailor’s day is all about getting the best and most out of the morning…with syrup on top and some fresh fruit on the side (my words, not theirs.)

My only complaint about First Watch is that they’re only open for breakfast and lunch. As someone who believes in the virtues of eating breakfast any time of the day, I wish they were open for dinner.

In any event, they’re still a winner in my book.

Grade: A+

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Cinnamon, With A Side of French Toast

Pike’s Diner, 921 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville. 410-653-5545 | http://www.pikesdiner.com

I have heard a lot of buzz about Pike’s Diner in Pikesville. “It’s an experience,” one person told me. Someone else said, “Girrrrrrrrrrrl, you gotta try their Henny Penny Fried Chicken.” So my husband and I ventured to Pike’s Diner recently to see what all the buzz was really about.

We pulled up to the restaurant on a cold, rainy Sunday morning after church. We were a little concerned that the parking lot was almost empty at that time of day. Where was everybody? Surely people were out and about looking for a good, hearty weekend breakfast at 10 in the morning.

I didn’t quite know what to make of the Hollywood-on-steroids dΓ©cor. Life-sized figures of the Blues Brothers looked down on the dining room that was full of movie memorabilia and blinking lights, but sparse on diners. Walking to our table (the hostess told us we could sit anywhere), all I kept thinking was that Gordon Ramsay or Robert Irvine would love to rip a place like this apart and rebuild it.

Being a french toast connoisseur, I ordered their French Baguette French Toast, along with a side of bacon and breakfast potatoes. What I ended up getting was an order of cinnamon with a side of french toast. The flavor was overpowering, and quite disappointing. The texture, which should have been rich, light and eggy was dry and just plain sad. The baguette slices were not soaked in the cinnamon-egg batter long enough, leaving the middle dry and uncooked. If only they had let the bread soak in the batter just a few minutes longer. Insert sigh…

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My husband ordered eggs, bacon, potatoes and toast. Neither of us enjoyed the potatoes. They had a strange gritty quality. I wondered if they had been reheated.

It’s a shame that Pike’s Diner didn’t meet my expectations. The diner is in an excellent location and has a lot of potential. I’d really hate to say it’s past its prime, but it’s definitely not a go-to spot for a weekend breakfast

Grade: D (for dismal)

In the Name of the Butter, the Syrup and the French Toast

Ah, breakfast. The most important meal of that day. That’s because of the syrupy, buttery goodness that makes breakfast worth every bite.

I don’t know when or where my love affair with breakfast began. Perhaps it was in college when they would serve midnight breakfasts in the cafeteria during midterms and finals. I always loved breakfast. I had fond memories of the breakfasts my mom prepared for my sister and me. From the eggs to the pancakes to the french toast, everything she made was divine.

I love all things breakfast, but French toast? Oh, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. There is something about the fluffy, buttery goodness blessed with sweet maple syrup that makes my stomach smile and my heart skip a beat.

And so I’m starting a special series on the blog, “In the Name of the Butter, the Syrup and the French Toast”. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be posting reviews of some of my favorite breakfast spots in the DMV, as well as some new ones, too. If you have a favorite restaurant that you think I should check out, let me know! I’d love to hear from you.

Now let’s hope I don’t gain too much weight from this project…