Uptown, Downtown, or Down Home: Down Home done Italian style. This tiny little nook located on a quaint pocket business district in Ballard approaches the Italian breakfast in a manner similar to Cafe Presse's approach to French fare: simply and slowly with tons of attention to detail.
Bubbles, Bloodies, or Black Coffee: This spot is Bloody-free, but the Bubbles more than make up for it. A generous pour of prosecco and fresh juice costs $5. The Fat Hen offers coffee in many forms, and you'll have your choice of excellent drip, a French press for the table, a bialetti pot, or full espresso bar.
Hungover, Hooked-Up or Hanging with the Family: This joint is family friendly, but a kid or two in a place this size can easily make it seem overrun with rugrats. This is where you bring a hook-up with whom you are comfortable languishing -- as everything at the Fat Hen, from the food to the seating, is an European exercise in patience. If your hangover is of the mild, "won't interfere with your appetite" variety, the window side counter seating will do you right.
What's Cooking: Benedicts, baked eggs, Dutch babies and homemade yogurt rival antipasti, salads and dishes like Cotoletta di Vitello (breaded veal cutlet) and garden salad for an epically difficult choice between brunch standards and high-end lunch fare. Fortunately, you'll have plenty of time to contemplate the menu. Arrive early, get your name on the list, pick up some delightful cornetti with a cup of coffee and get ready to enjoy the next 20-35 minutes, because seats at this spot are hotly coveted. One taste of the Alla Boscaiola (two eggs baked, sausage, mushroom, mozzarella and tomato - $9.50), however, and you won't regret your time investment. The Speck Benedict ($14) and Eggs Florentine ($12) boast a blissfully lemony and obviously made-to-order Hollandaise. The Patate al Cartoccio (new potatoes, sea salt and thyme -$4) are some of the finest breakfast potatoes the city has to offer. And be sure to sample the plum compote served with the baguette and yogurt, a lovely blend of sweet and tart that will stay with you long after you've flown the coop.