Blend - 47-04 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, NY 11101
7 Train to Vernon Blvd/Jackson Avenue
I mentioned sampling Blend's cuisine last week at the Taste of LIC event. Interested in exploring their dishes some more, my cousin Vicky and I met up there for dinner earlier this week. Everything was muy bien and the prices were the icing on the cake--I mean the tortilla.
Clearly a new establishment, everything at Blend was shiny and new--the tables, the artwork on the walls, the bar. It has yet to be broken in. The space is large and at about 6:30p on a weekday, we found ourselves to be Blend's only customers. This was more than OK with us because we weren't in the mood for anything too boisterous. The great thing about being "alone" was that we got a comfortable corner booth with cushiony seats. My only complaint was the music--it was loud and too techno-ey--something you wouldn't expect to hear at a Latin joint. It got lower as our meal progressed--maybe they heard us complaining--but the initial sound was obtrusive and unnecessary.
Blend offers an eclectic menu and it's really up to you how you'd like it presented--you can order a variety of tapas from their tapatizers section or you can get larger sized entrees. Vicky and I chose the former, which was a perfect way to try a bit of everything. Some of our tapatizers and other smaller dishes included:
Mazorca - YUM--this was roasted sweet corn, rubbed with mayo, cheese and chili powder. At first, we were a little intimidated because it didn't come divided but after asking our waiter to make it more tapas friendly, he gladly obliged and we enjoyed this sweet veggie immensely. I loved the chili powder on it, especially because it added some heat to the sweetness.
Mofongo con Sofrito - I had mofongo before at Fatty's Cafe and knew that I'd like this dish. It consists of mashed plantains with garlic, cilantro, floating in a delicious tomato sauce. This one was much prettier than at Fatty's and the taste was fabulous. The plantains made it hearty and the garlic and cilantro flavors were distinct without being overpowering. If you like plantains, I'd strongly suggest this.
Camarones al Ajillo (shrimp with garlic) - A classic tapas dish, we wanted to see how this one stacked up to others we've sampled. Quite good! The shrimp was cooked well and came with a side of toasted bread to be used for dipping into the garlic sauce. The bread was disappointing because it was slightly burned but when dipped into the sauce, this small error was quickly forgotten--the sauce was absolutely garliffic!
Tostones - I love to get these instead of fries--a). because they taste much better and b). because they're a lot bigger and filling. Blend's version passed with flying colors and the cilantro, onion and tomato salsa topping was a refreshing complement.
Empanadas - We both wanted to complete this meal with something hearty so we ordered individual servings of empanadas. I got the chorizo and Vicky ordered the carne. My chorizo pocket was delightful and I'd get it again in a heartbeat--the pastry crust was made of cornmeal, which was deliciously crunchy while the chorizo was smoky and a tad spicy. Vicky enjoyed her carne as well but I couldn't help noticing that the pastry crust around hers was lighter. Not to say that it wasn't good but mine looked a bit more appetizing.
Note that Blend just got approved for their liquor license so they didn't have drinks to serve us, but moving forward they will have cocktails available.
Service and Cost:
The service couldn't be better because as I mentioned, we were the only customers in the place. Our waiter was friendly and accommodating. He was quick with the check but didn't make us feel rushed.
The final bill was a beautiful thing--for all of the dishes that I just described our total bill came out to $26! Yep, $13 bucks a pop for dinner can't be beat and quite frankly can't be found anywhere else! Once Blend gets to serve liquor, things will change but we walked out quite elated and quite full!