Greenpoint is like...Barcelona? Not exactly, says El Born owner Elena Manich, but she can find some similarities between the Spanish city and her new tapas restaurant's home.
El Born skews toward the stylized latter. It oozes Catalan chic, from its long marble bar to the not-trying-too-hard-but-ridiculously-attractive staff to the circular neon pink installation-slash-light-source that provides a welcome break from Edison bulb mania. While cozy, it's a neighborhood restaurant that feels big-city in the outer reaches of Brooklyn.
Classic Spanish flavors are here, but the presentations are a step above your typical tapas joint. Gorgeous grilled baby carrots, radishes and fennel rest on a bed of romesco sauce. Airy goat cheese croquettes ($8) are served on not-too-sweet apple compote; the chocolate-and-spice rub on two tender quail legs ($14) becomes a sort of dressing for frisee tendrils and grapes.
Dipping hunks of rabbit — coated in chestnut flour and then fried to a golden crispness — into a dense, lemony aioli was our favorite part of the meal ($14). Served in a brown paper bag strewn with herbs and garlic, the dish is sort of like the restaurant itself: a little rustic, a little modern and very cool.