First & Last Bakery: Not First or Last

I love a nice weekend brunch. I barely eat anything most weekday mornings — usually cheese and a couple crackers or some blueberries these days — but on a weekend, I want me something good and hearty for brunch. I have my old standbys and favorites, but sometimes you want something new to mix things up. Variety is the spice of life and all that BS.

So a couple weekends ago, The Betrothed and I headed to First & Last Bakery in Hartford. The neighborhood is iffy, but the clientele is pretty yuppie. We saw a lot of Glastonbury LAX stickers on cars and Trinity sweatshirts on our fellow diners. No one seemed rushed, but instead happy to chat and enjoy that third cup of coffee.  There was also the obligatory trying-too-hard “I hang out in coffee shops and write” lady in funky, “artistic” clothes planted in the corner with her laptop.

It’s not totally clear what the procedure is if you’re not just getting a muffin to go, but you order at the counter, grab your own coffee and then find a table. They do, however,  bring your food to you for the most part. We stood around like a couple of morons for a second before figuring it out, and then watched while another group sat around for 20 minutes not figuring it out. It’s like a right of passage.

The place looks like a converted factory building with hundreds of baskets hanging from the ceiling (with all their tags still on them) — a pretty cool effect. The inside is painted dark, but doesn’t feel particularly dark or dank thanks to the big windows and brightly lit bakery counter filled with tons of sweets. It’s actually pretty cozy.

I ordered the grilled eggplant and roasted red pepper panini which came with an okay potato salad. The sandwich was really tasty with some basil and mozz and not too much grease on the bread. The problem is that it came out a good 15 minutes before The Betrothed’s corned beef hash showed up. I had to slowly pace myself so I wouldn’t be finished before he even got his meal. We also saw several folks who ordered after us get their food which makes me think they might have forgotten it. His meal was middle of the road, and his “spicy ketchup” was apparently on the sweet side. Weird.

Overall, it was a decent breakfast and worth trying. It wasn’t the best and wasn’t the worst. Two salt shakers for middle of the road food but with good atmosphere.