If you have not been to Denmark and still heard the word Bornholm, it is probably in a negative light. The tiny island namesake of this restaurant is also the location of early cases of what is now known as Bornholm Disease. Nowadays, the disease is rarely fatal and because of this remains pretty unknown.
Further repairing the good name of the Danish island (which actually is around the tip of Sweden and disconnected from most other Danish islands), is a new place on Smith Street in Cobble Hill with owners from this island that have also operated a Danish cafe in Red Bank, NJ for some time. From photos, the island appears very green with rocky coastlines, much like we might think of Maine. Many residents are fishermen or dairy farmers.
Smith Street may not be quite as idyllic, but Bornholm (the restaurant) does have a lovely backyard good for groups or taking a coffee solo. We took an assortment of pastries to this backyard and enjoyed them with their good coffee. In Denmark, what we call a "danish" are known as Viennese pastries because of their Austrian origins.
Each morning will see quite a variety of treats, the three above all were charged at $3.50. Especially good is the custard-filled version below, creamy and topped with chopped almonds. The layered pastries are all well-crafted and fresh, no need to worry about getting yesterday's baking here.
Lowered into the space between Cobble Hill buildings is a wood-covered dining area tastefully decorated with potted plants. It was around noon when we ate, but an evening return for beers and their cocktail list might prove too tempting to avoid, especially on early autumn nights.
Enjoying ourselves, we transitioned to the weekday lunch menu, which of course includes a whole range of smørrebrød, the famous Danish open-faced sandwiches that are popping up in more and more places. We first tried them many years ago at the Danish Seaman's Church Christmas Fair, but now they are available commercially at quite a few locations in Manhattan.
The leverpostej ($7.75, below) is rye bread topped with a very coarse pig liver paté, bacon, mushrooms, and beets. The iron comes through stronger than French paté, while the whole bite is on the dry side. That being said, it is a positive taste on the whole.
Seven small plates available include the okse tatar ($9, below), beef tartar served with Bornholm sauce and topped with a couple green onions. This dish is quite tasty, although the beef was oddly chewy. If that does not bother you, it is recommended, the toasted bread making a very nice tartar vehicle.
Lastly we tried the stegt torsk ($9, below), which reads from the menu as you might expect a fish and chips to read, but comes out much different. This fried cod is cooked more delicately and topped with shrimp. The remoulade they use is also quite good, and I noticed that second bites were going towards this plate first before the others.
Remoulade is popular in Denmark, replacing mayonnaise when Danes order fries and ketchup. It is also used on fried dishes like this, and some of the smørrebrod options.
Besides being a comfortable spot for Nordic food, the place has been designed to promote drinking at the long bar as well, and will hopefully be a nice option for a peaceful drink on Smith Street. They have eight or so taps (Carlsberg the only Danish option), wine and cocktail lists. A separate bar snacks menu provides a few options better for those alcohol pairings then smørrebrød, which might be a bit dangerous after a few drinks.