Deciding on a spot for Sunday morning brunch can be a tricky endeavor in a city as diverse as New York, where palates can be more scrutinizing than the people.
But if the girls want to sip mimosas and the guys want to catch some futbol, all while mixing and matching flavors from across the Western Hemisphere, Blend Latin Fusion Restaurant in Long Island City is where they want to be.
With ambient classic salsa playing overheard and Spanish Premier League soccer on the flat screens televisions, Blend, located at 47-04 Vernon Boulevard, serves lunch, dinner and a very popular brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. The idea for a fusion restaurant hatched two years ago from the six partners, each from different Latin America countries, an influence quickly noted in the preparation and delicious combinations of ingredients in the dishes.
For example, the appetizer sopes mixes arepas from Venezuela – arepas are sweet corncakes – with melted mozzarella cheese over Mexican black beans and glazed with Mexican cotija cheese. A light garnish of cilantro and tomatoes adds the familiar South of the Border kick.
The calamari blend appetizer fuses cornmeal crusted calamari served with sweet plantain chunks and tomato sauce for an earthy Mexican and Caribbean combination of flavors. The filling of the five homemade empanadas – chicken fricassee, braised beef short rib and picadillo, a blend of manchego, tetilla and cotija cheese, sautéed chorizo, and spinach with tetilla cheese and spicy pecans – reach the various culinary plates and palates that truly makes Blend a hemispheric place.
Some appetizers like the mazorca – roasted sweet corn rubbed with Mexican mayonnaise, cotija cheese and chili powder – and the mariquitas – a beautiful bouquet of long fried plantain strips served with a deceivingly delicious garlic and Pepper Jack cheese dip – are firmly grounded in one country or region.
For lunch or dinner meat lovers will relish sinking their teeth into the an Argentinean churrasco, grilled marinated skirt steak with the traditional parsley, garlic and olive oil chimichurri sauce, the Cuban style pernil, slow oven roasted pork shoulder, or Brazilian sandwich, a triple-decker with fried eggs, avocado, tomato, and ham.
But if you go to Blend for brunch, get the huevos rancheros, eggs on a black bean quesadilla with Mexican cotija and Spanish tetilla cheese, salsa and guacamole. The flavors maintain their individual strong flavors but complement one another well in your mouth. It definitely tastes like something a Mexican mom would make. The beautifully presented Yuca Benedictos, cassava hash with guacamole, poached eggs with seasonal fruits, has a milder taste than some of the other spicier dishes like the Spanish Omelet, which is served with chorizo, peppers, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes or the sweet and spicy banana pancakes, served with maple syrup and chorizo.
If you eat with the motto that “there is always room for dessert,” then treat yourself to the homemade flan – even if you’ve had good or great flan, Blend’s flan really is very good – and homemade bread pudding with ice cream, which had great texture, great flavor and little flakes of coconut and chocolate glaze.
Blend does not have a full beer and liquor license, but they make up for it with wine and champagne specials – the Monday night special includes 50 percent off a bottle of wine, Tuesday special includes free wine and champagne and on Wednesday they offer unlimited sangria refills after the purchase of two glasses at regular price.
At Blend, the chef really understands all the aspects of Latin cuisine. Couple that with the energy, friendly staff and great location, mix it up a little – head to Blend!
47-04 Vernon Boulevard
LIC, N.Y. 11101
Web site: www.blendlic.com
Hours: Monday – Friday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Credit Cards: All major credit cards accepted