A while back, we shared the news that husband-and-wife chefs Eder Montero and Alex Raij, the couple behind Chelsea's Txikito and El Quinto Pino, would be expanding to Brooklyn, and now the time has come. Their third restaurant, La Vara, is slated to open by the last week of March, bringing sharable small and large plates to Cobble Hill. Raij is as much Spanish-food scholar as she is chef, and La Vara is a thesis of sorts on the cuisine’s Moorish and Jewish legacies.
The menu evokes the Persian tradition in the form of rabbit escabèche with prunes, olives, and saffron, and explores the kinship between couscous and the Murcian pasta gurullos, which may be ordered with ground goat. Of the fried artichokes and flash-fried fish, Raij reminds us that Jews are no strangers to frying (just look at the iconic latke and jelly doughnut). Once you start scrutinizing, you see the influences that Raij celebrates: how fideua, or Valencian noodle paella, resembles Lebanese noodles; the way that chickpea-and-spinach stew sprung from Sabbath rituals; and that in another context, the torta Santiago could be your basic Passover almond cake.
But then again, La Vara isn't exactly kosher. There's suckling pig on the menu, and even bacon. This is still Spain we're talking about. Here's a look at a few of the dishes.
268 Clinton St., nr. Verandah Pl., Cobble Hill; 718-422-0065