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 within 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.

First, to tell you what is right with brunch at the Golden Table: If you like to stretch out on a Sunday, this is the place to do it. The ceilings are hight, the tables far apart, and large enough for a feast and the Sunday paper as well. A dining room of stature, it provides Sunday serenity. The service is next best to having a valet serve breakfast in bed. Champagne costs $1.50, including constant refills. Brunches, including juice, coffee, bagels and bread, average $5.35 and range from blintzes to smoke salmon, with omelets, salads, quiches, potato pancakes, crepes and steak in between. Only the kitchen needs improvement, but it needs a lot. The blintzes are grainy inside, greasy outside, bland through and through. Potato pancakes are overdone, tough rather than just crisp. Quiche is well flavored, but soggy and raw on the bottom. Best of the menu is the omelet, big and fluffy. The smoked salmon provides a lot of food for the money. And with such frequent champagne refills, it hardly matters after awhile.