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Brooklyn Dining Al Fresco at La Vara and Colonia Verde

December 7, 2015

Ok, so now that we are well into December, dining al fresco is no longer season appropriate.  However, given the warm spell we have been having lately, it might be still possible to squeeze in one or two meals in fresh air before winter finally descends.  At the very least I can relive some great memories from the summer of dining al fresco.

La Vara, sister restaurant to the adorable Txikito and El Quinto Pino, is tucked next to Cobble Hill Park on the quiet Clinton Street.  The outdoor space in the back was intimate, lit with strings of twinkling lights.  It made for quite a romantic spot for a date or just a nice low key catch up with a girlfriend.

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A few small dates to share with a glass of chilled white wine was just what the hot summer day called for.  To start, a crispy bowl of golden fried artichoke and anchovy aioli.

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Following the artichokes, a plate of crispy eggplant with honey, melted cheese and nigella seed.  What’s better than hot gooey cheese on bread?

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Two skewers of Gibraltar-style chicken hearts served with fresh herb salad and a lime-date vinaigrette isn’t for the faint of heart.  But they were so deliciously grilled to perfection with just the right amount of char and juicy center that even if you are just a tiny bit curious, you should give it a try.

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As a contrast to the fried artichoke and eggplant, the Persian cucumber and grain salad is the perfect counterbalance.  Lightly dressed with lemon and tahini yogurt, the salad was at the same time hearty yet refreshing.

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The meal should always end with a hearty bowl of the handmade Murcian pasta with goat butter and spicy ragu of goat.  Similar to a gnocchi, the handmade pasta was light and fluffy, the perfect vehicle for the delicious ragu.  Definitely a must for anyone who loves the flavor of goat.

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After the great meal at La Vara, I found myself a few neighborhoods away at Fort Greene in the beautiful dining room of Colonia Verde.  Recently reopened after an unfortunate fire, the neighborhood Latin restaurant boosted a wonderful rustic airy dining room with glass ceilings and open windows.

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The Latin inspired meal here started with duck confit tacos.  Not so much a taco but more resembling a burrito, these moist and juicy duck confit tacos were gone within seconds of arrival.

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I always have a soft spot for corn so CV summer salad was perfect.  Beautifully charred pieces of corn is tossed with cotija, cumin dressing and cilantro and tossed with toasted pepitas.  What’s not to love?

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A nice piece of rib-eye for two cooked blue in the middle was just how I like my meat.  A little dab of the housemade fresh salsa was all the beautiful piece of steak needed.

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And the favorite dish of the night?  A hearty bowl of red rice and lentils topped with roasted cauliflower, grilled eggplant, dates and smoky pecans.  The unexpected vegetarian bowl completely surprised with its bold flavors, savory and smoky and sweet, perfectly balanced all in one plate.

These two will definitely be on the top of the list for dining al fresco once spring returns, whether in the quiet cozy backyard of La Vara or the rustic airy dining room of Colonia Verde.  

La Vara | 268 Clinton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 | http://www.lavarany.com/

Colonia Verde | 219 Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11205 | http://coloniaverdenyc.com/

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