The first meal of the day is a highly personal one; people are unyielding about whether their first mouthful is orange juice or coffee or corn flakes. The first meal of the day is an unpredictable one; people may eat breakfast at 6 a.m. or noon, while lunch and dinner fall with fairly limited time spans. And now the first meal of the day is becoming a very social one, at least on weekends, when brunch has not only become the focus of the day for many, it becomes the bulk of the day for some. So here is the first of a two-part series on brunches. The choice was far too broad to include more than a small taste of what is available; many temptations had to be left out. I sampled from those promising the comforts that might tempt one to while away a lazy Sunday. Many also allow such whiling away of a Saturday. And one serves its Sunday brunch on Saturday only, and calls it Frunch instead. In any case, there is something for most tastes, whether orange juice or ouzo is what gets you going in the morning.

Environment is all at Le Jardin, the sun through the skylights hitting walls the colors of desert sunsets. The gleams of marble and brass add to the energy the room generates. The energy, however, is reflected neither in the service nor the kitchen. Eggs andalouse are a good idea, the sunny-side up eggs in a pool of chunky Creole sauce. But the eggs were barely cooked. Eggs Lucas were disaster, a benedict variation substituting processed turkey for ham and resting on soggy English muffins. There are omelets, salads, crepes and quiches, most at $4.25 to $4.50, with starters like pates and endings like mousses and tarts. But there is no juice on the menu, and the only fruit is apples, oranges and grapes under a glob of plain yogurt. Croissants-ranging from brown to pale-carry the responsibility of reminding you it's brunch. And the salad-powerful with garlic, mustard and cheese-saves the dav.