Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict with grits at First Watch Annapolis.

First Watch Annapolis Serves Up Comforting Brunch

Located in Riva Festival in what used to house Chili’s and Chuy’s over the years, First Watch in Annapolis serves breakfast, brunch and lunch seven days a week. The newly opened dining spot—named for the nautical term referring to the first shift of the day—offers plenty of choices to get your day started (or to keep it going).

Earlier this week, digital editor Kathy Knotts and I headed over for an early lunch. There was no wait when we walked through the door at just after 11 a.m. We were quickly shown to a table— and the hostess even offered to help us out of our bulky winter coats (nice touch!).

The space has been completely revamped. Now open, airy and bright, First Watch features a farmhouse style with potted plants displayed on the walls.

Our server quickly greeted us, carrying a carafe of coffee, which she left with us when I accepted the offer of a mug (Kathy stuck with water, and our server also left a full carafe of that).

We asked if they offered standard brunch beverages such as mimosas and Bloody Marys (a favorite around the CBM offices—as our fellow boat show friends can attest….) and discovered they will carry alcoholic beverages as soon as their liquor license is granted.

There were lots of items to choose from on the menu so we had to ask our server to come back. Kathy eventually chose the Elevated Egg Sandwich ($11.99), a brioche bun stacked with an over-easy cage-free egg, bacon, gruyere cheese, avocado, mayo and lemon-dressed arugula. The dish comes with a side of seasoned potatoes but Kathy substituted those for whole grain artisan toast with almond butter. 

Elevated Egg Sandwich with artisan toast with almond butter. Photo by Krista Pfunder.

“The addition of the avocado and arugula elevated it beyond your standard breakfast sandwich,” Kathy says. She did note that she might request a different bread choice in lieu of the brioche bun if she orders it again.

I ordered the Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict ($14.99), which featured two poached eggs atop toasted ciabatta, wild Alaskan smoked sockeye salmon, red onion, tomato and topped with hollandaise. The dish is usually served with a side of lemon-dressed mixed greens, but I substituted buttery grits.

Both Kathy and I were able to easily make substitutions, and, when we questioned our server, she explained that First Watch is happy to adjust dishes and side dishes upon request with no upcharge (another nice touch).

I’m a big fan of eggs Benedict and this version didn’t disappoint. I’m used to the traditional English muffin as a base, but very much enjoyed the ciabatta. It was firm enough to hold up to the rest of the ingredients but soft enough to cut. Sometimes the edges of the muffins in traditional eggs Benedict prove a bit difficult to slice through.

The eggs were well-poached and the addition of the tomato made for a fresh, light flavor against the saltiness of the smoked salmon. The hollandaise sauce was creamy, buttery and lemony. 

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict. Photo by Krista Pfunder.

I went to college in the south and got hooked on grits, so will order them whenever the opportunity presents itself. I’ve been noticing that a lot of grits lately have more of a sharp, metallic taste to them, but these did not. They were firm and were topped with a dollop of butter that melted and could be mixed in—I would definitely get them again.

As we boxed up our leftovers and grabbed our coats, we noticed a bar behind us with freshly made juice concoctions. The Purple Hazy (below)—made with lemon, cane sugar, butterfly pea flower tea and a hint of lavender—looked especially appealing to brighten up a cold, rainy day.

You can check out the First Watch website for current wait times at the chain’s multiple locations in Maryland and Virginia.

Want to dine at First Watch on CBM? Watch our social media channels in coming weeks for a First Watch gift card giveaway (@chesapeakebaymag on Instagram).