My wife and I had breakfast with another couple recently at First Watch in south Lakeland (they also have a north Lakeland location). First Watch is a chain that was founded in 1983 and is headquartered in University Park, Florida, near Sarasota, but they have locations all over the country. I went to a First Watch in Tampa about 7 or 8 years ago. I don’t recall much about the experience, so after that much time I was curious what the chain is up to.
We ate inside, although they also have a number of tables with umbrellas outside. It’s a popular place – we didn’t have to wait for a table, but there were a number of people waiting by the time we left. The interior is spotless, kind a of “contemporary industrial” look. We enjoyed pleasant service the entire time. It’s standard practice to leave a pot of coffee at the table when guests are seated – even though I’m allergic to coffee, my wife enjoys it and I appreciate the policy, as it saves time for both customers and wait staff. We also had a carafe of water that I drank from, I didn’t order anything else to drink (and was not asked if I wanted anything else).
I ordered a Tri-Fecta, 2 eggs with a choice of Belgian waffle or multigrain pancake (I chose the waffle), plus a choice of bacon or one of several types of sausage (I chose bacon). First Watch gets an A+ for presentation, just like the decor, everything is tasteful and picture-perfect. And I liked the flavor of the food – the bacon was crispy without being burned, the waffle was fluffy and not too heavy. I did feel the portion of eggs was pretty wimpy – that’s the smallest portion of 2 eggs I’ve ever had.
My wife ordered the Traditional Breakfast, 2 eggs with whole grain toast, potatoes, and a choice of bacon, ham, or sausage (she chose a chicken sausage patty). I actually wish I had chosen this breakfast, it looked more evenly distributed. She felt the potatoes were a little lacking in flavor but otherwise it was all quite good; she especially liked the whole grain toast.
With tip, our total came to $29. I thought the food tasted quite good, and the service and ambience were excellent. Still, somehow I can’t get excited about First Watch, and I’m not entirely certain why. I would go back, I just can’t recommend it with a lot of enthusiasm. First Watch claims that everything is made fresh and to order, and everything certainly looked and tasted fresh. The south Lakeland First Watch location is on South Florida Avenue, just south of Alamo Drive. They are open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week.