It’s probably not much of a secret to my friends and family, but there are few things I love more than the simple joy of having breakfast for dinner. So you can imagine, perhaps, how excited I was to be invited (along with a number of other Jacksonville food-lovers) to a Breakfast for Dinner event yesterday at the First Watch Cafe in Mandarin. My cousin, Kristen, was kind enough to agree to come as my date for the evening.
To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I’ve yet to have the opportunity to attend similar events with local groups such as the FW Bite Club, but I prepared as much as I was able – I did manage to arrive quite hungry. ^_^ Lucky for us, we were met by a smiling hostess, and several hors d’oeuvres options immediately upon walking in. Armed with a glass of iced green tea and my first taste of First Watch Cafe for the evening, I settled in for what was looking to be a wonderful evening.
Now, I’m not much of a roast beef person usually, but I’ll try almost anything once, and boy am I glad I did. First Watch’s Beefeater sandwich was love at first bite. When you bite into this delectable sandwich, you get a robust mix of roast beef, tomatoes, cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses on grilled Parmesan-crusted sourdough bread with a mild horseradish sauce on the side. With the first “taste test” out of the way, I broke out the menu to see what other edible delights were in store.
The Floridian French Toast was next on my “to try” list, and it was just as tasty as it looks. Fluffy sourdough bread, fresh fruit and a blueberry dipping sauce made this a great second taste of what was in store for the rest of the evening. While not my favorite dish of the night, it’s still an entree that I’d look forward to having again in the future.
After about half an hour or so of mixing and mingling and munching on the appetizers, we each sat down at our tables and settled in for the main event. Jessica, part of the First Watch Cafe’s marketing department, gave us a brief introduction to First Watch Cafe’s history, their move from California to Florida, and a quick flash forward to their growth into 92 locations. The Mandarin cafe is the second location in Jacksonville, and a third is on the way.
Next we opened our menus and began the tough process of selecting the entrees we’d like to sample. My particular table – which consisted of myself, my cousin Kristen, Liz Foraker (@Liz4aker) and Jessie Thomas (@jessiet09) – got a particular thrill out of the friendly message printed on each menu “We love you more than bacon!” After reading several descriptions aloud, we settled on the plan of each ordering a different entree so that we could all have a taste of something different. Liz ordered the blueberry pancakes, Jessie settled on the Crepeggs, Kristen ordered the Tri-Athlete Omelette, and I decided to test drive the Joaquin Yahoo (and a single carrot cake pancake – don’t judge me!). We also ordered another round of iced green tea, and hot chocolate because it was too beautifully presented to resist.
When our mountain of food arrived, my stomach quailed at the thought of actually being able to make a dent in everything that had been presented. In addition to the items we ordered, they also brought us a Pecan Dijon salad that I don’t think we even were able to take more than a bite or two of. After distributing a little bit of everything onto plates for each other, we lifted our forks and dug in.
In choosing the Joaquin Yahoo as my entree, I took advantage of the opportunity to order something I normally might not have the courage to try. But man, was this an entree worth giving a chance. Served as an open-faced Mexican-style frittata made with eggs, mushrooms, broccoli, celery, zucchini and onions, then topped with salsa, melted cheeses and sour cream, it was a fiesta of flavor! I definitely recommend this entree to everyone with taste buds. (See a veggie in there that you’re not particularly fond of? No worries! You can of course have each entree made especially the way you like it).
Okay, I’d like to preface my critique of their carrot cake pancakes with a statement about my love of syrup and honey. I do not eat pancakes (or waffles) without a generous supply of syrup, so when I tell you that these pancakes are so divine that they need no additional confections, please take me at my word. These guys are good enough to be dessert!
So if you haven’t figured it out by now, I was pretty thoroughly impressed with my first taste of the First Watch Cafe. Each entree I sampled was deliciously, the staff was friendly, and the food came out ridiculously quickly despite the fact that the kitchen received about fifty orders at the exact same time. For those of you with restaurant experience (like me), you understand what a big deal that is. I’ve signed up for their mailing list and am looking forward to taking Christopher on my next trip!