If you all didn’t know, I grew up in Columbus and have a special place in my heart for Worthington, Ohio. When I went to college and people found out I was from Ohio, they’d asked me “oh, did you have cows outside your school window.” As a matter of fact, I did, even if it was in the heart of Worthington. Twenty years ago, Columbus was as big of a trendy foodie hub as it is now. The coolest breakfast spot on the block was First Watch at Worthington Mall. Back then, it wasn’t as important if the biscuits were fresh and the eggs were cage-free. But, it sure is now and First Watch delivers. They are only open for breakfast and lunch and there is always a long wait. But, don’t worry because you get free coffee while you wait. Which, I might add, is actually one of my favorite diner style coffees. It’s possible that it’s because it’s probably the first real coffee I ever had. While you wait, you can peruse their seasonal menu which boasts items like Millionaire’s Bacon and Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Toast, all reasonably priced.
Even though Baby O is just shy of a year old, restaurants always give her a kid’s menu. It warms my little heart, actually. Plus, it helps us practice her coloring while teaching her that crayons are for playing, not for chewing. I love restaurants that basically just feature smaller portions of their adult menu on the kid’s menu. I could go into a long soap box discussion about how it’s absurd that kid’s meals are always the most unhealthy thing on the menu. But, I’ll just say that First Watch doesn’t fall into that trap and it’s wonderful. Like I said, I’ve been going to First Watch for literally decades. They used to have the typical frozen and fried breakfast potatoes which were delicious, although not the healthiest. These potatoes are vastly different and so good! They are super soft and big chunks of fresh potato that seem to be gently pan fried instead of deep fried. If you toss some hot sauce on them, they are perfection. Since First Watch is definitely aiming for that more healthful version of brunch, they feature a lot of turkey and chicken instead of red meat or pork. This perfect for me because I don’t eat pork but LOVE biscuits and gravy. Their biscuits with turkey sausage and gravy was spectacular. The biscuits were fresh and super fluffy topped with a clearly homemade gravy speckled with chunks of seasoned turkey. Oh, and it was served with eggs, because, of course. This is such a small thing, but they use fresh, chopped chives as a garnish which is way classier than some sh*tty parsley on top. Gordon Ramsey would be so proud. The Beard isn’t a huge fan of breakfast food. I know, it’s his major downfall in life. But, I still love him. He got the Roast Beef and Harvarti sandwich on a grilled Parmesan-crusted Sourdough bread alongside some tomato soup. While the soup tasted a little canned, the sandwich was great, specifically the bread and the side of Horseradish sauce. You can tell them put some care and thoughtfulness into the creation of this sandwich. I always reference the episode of Food Network Star when Bobby Flay teaches them how to make the best sandwich and half of them fail miserably. Every bite needs to be consistent and flavorful. This one passes the test.
I spent many mornings at this First Watch with my family, innocent high school friends, hungover college winter break friends and now with my little family for Sunday brunch. Say what you will about chain restaurants, but there is something wholesome to be said about a restaurant that spans a generation in a little mall in Worthington, Ohio.