Blend 111 is set on a charming street in Vienna, Virginia with a smattering of eateries. Although it’s been open since 2019, owner and sommelier Michael Biddick spent a few months this year revamping the menu with a new culinary team.
The al fresco terrace is complete with heat lamps and blankets perfect for a cool fall evening. All Covid-19 precautions are being taken very seriously: there is hand sanitizer as you walk in, tables are distanced and if indoors, there are air purifiers between tables for added ventilation.
At first glance, the modern Latin American and Spanish menu speaks of a creativity that exceeds what might be seen at a typical neighborhood restaurant. There is a heavy focus on showcasing a variety of organic ingredients and natural wines. The selection of cocktails is creative, and other drinks are equally impressive and interesting.
I tried a purple potato latte, which was a combination of potato, beetroot and butterfly pea that’s comforting, especially on a chilly day. They make a hard-to-find chicha morada, a Peruvian purple corn drink, as well as horchatas in a wide variety. I’m not a pumpkin fan, but the pumpkin horchata was subtle and not excessively sweet. You’ll be spoiled for choice with drinks, alcoholic or otherwise.
For lunch, the three-course, $29 selection with a choice of appetizer, main and dessert is a fantastic value and offers a decent number of selections without being overwhelming. I started with the tequeños, a Venezuelan baked cheese snack made with corn that was light, melty and fluffy.
Next, I was curious to try the seafood dishes. Prior to Blend 111, executive chef Andrés-Julian Zuluaga held the same title at Fabio Trabocchi’s Fiola and also worked at seafood-centric spots Fiola Mare and Del Mar. We went with the octopus, which in many places can be hit-or-miss. The dish was definitely a hit here: it was perfectly grilled with great texture and a bright flavor, and served with a refreshing salad that balanced the dish.
For our main courses, we ordered the Colombian arepa and the mushroom-stuffed poblanos. The arepa with grilled chorizo and a quail egg came together wonderfully with the pineapple hogao to provide a nice union of flavors. The earthiness from the avocado and fattiness from the chorizo combined with the arepa to soak in the flavors made it my favorite dish of the meal. Many arepas I’ve tried can tend to get dry, but not this one.
We also ordered a vegetarian dish of stuffed poblano that came with a squash puree and a touch of tang from tamarind, which was tasty and satisfying. What struck me throughout the meal was the thoughtfulness of the dishes and the balance of flavors and ingredients chosen.
To finish our meal, we enjoyed a dessert of plantains, which was a joy to eat with crunch from brown butter almond crumble and chocolate.
There are a plethora of dishes to be eaten at Blend 111. Many are original and interesting, and quite a few are exceptional. Dishes are rotated on a regular basis, so keep an eye on the menu to try the latest creations.
Blend 111: 111 Church St. Suite 101, Vienna, VA; www.blend111.com
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