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 board to include more than a small taste of what is available; many temptations hand 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.

While the Big Chese has no special brunch menu, its cheese-oriented lunch menu lends itself prefectly to Saturday and Sunday brunches. There are fried cheese and quiches and cheese in pancakes and puffs, all at $5.50. There are meat pies and crab enchiladas and fritto misto, depending on the season. While the cooking falters-a baked pancake underdone in the middle-and the menu gets too cute in combining flavors that sometimes don't work-artichoke cheese pie was overwhelmed by the flavor of the canned artichokes-you can count on the Big Cheese for fresh, colorful food, crisp vegetables and well-kept cheeses, and always something new to try.