The Fat Hen is a Gem

A few brilliant items manage to find room in this tiny, bustling brunch spot.

Light, bright and cheerful, Ballard’s The Fat Hen (across the street from Delancey) is a gem of a find with a honeycomb-tile backsplash, whitewashed wainscoting and a glass case of irresistible, original treats. Open for lunch and brunch only (with a recently added Friday dinner), the short menu lists several versions of baked eggs, some arriving on stewed tomato sauce, with soft pockets of mozzarella and strewn with basil ($8), others wearing a rich dressing of four bold, creamy cheeses ($9.50). There are sandwiches, too, like one with sautéed mushrooms and homemade ricotta ($8), though it would’ve been better served open-faced; too much bread overwhelmed the goodies.

Brunch is busy; there are just a handful of tables and some bar seats, so space is at a premium. But the homemade English muffins ($2.50), warm with butter and honey, are worth the wait. (I also adore the fresh cod with fried potatoes and a tomato-caper salsa, $16.) Look for the buttery lemon tart topped with bronzed pine nuts; it’s brilliant!

Much of the menu falls into the category of good but not quite great; here’s hoping the food improves a bit to live up to the enchanting room.

Breakfast and lunch Wed.–Fri., dinner Fri., brunch Sat.–Sun. Ballard, 1418 NW 70th St.; 206.782.5422; $