Tapas in Brooklyn

La Vara offers tapas with flavors that are Spanish, but highlight the influence of the Moors and Jews, which were an important influence on Spanish culture.  Citrus, honey, preserved lemon, prunes and saffron feature prominently in several dishes and offer flavor profiles that are more Middle Eastern.  There are also classics like albondigas (meatballs) and cochinillo (roast pig).  The portion sizes are perfect.  The dishes we had were intensely flavored and a larger portion would have been overwhelming.  We had trouble making our choices, because everything sounded amazing.  I didn't want to drink any alcohol because I was coming down with a cold and had taken some Tylenol, so we declined on the traditional drinks.  (There is a drinks menu with cocktails, wine, beer and sherries). The waitress was nice enough to make us a custom mocktail of sparkling water and pomegranate juice.  We ordered five plates and they also started us with fried olives on yogurt and bread with butter.  It was early evening and we had had ice cream earlier, so we passed on dessert, but the selections looked tempting.

Migas Aragonesas with chorizo and seared grapes.  Intense flavors!

The picture I took of the albongidas didn't come out well, but they were great.  Here's the rest of our meal:

Our pica pica of fried olives

Eggplant with a hint of honey was delicious and unusual

Coca Cebes is a flat bread with roasted onions and blue cheese

The ambiance was relaxed and more bar-like than a fine dining experience.  It was bright and small with a cozy feel.  The tables were a little too close together, but everyone was agreeable squished in.


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