By Kaci Yoder
As the doors swing open to welcome you into Blend Wine Bar, somehow the air feels a little fresher than it does out on the streets of downtown. The walls are a mix of light-stained wood, exposed brick, and blue wallpaper scrawling up to the high ceilings with gleaming gold filigree. It’s airy and roomy, easily doubling the amount of personal space allowed in the typical bar. But then again, Blend is not the typical bar.
In the long list of Restaurant Week venues, Blend might be one of the most surprising, simply because many don’t realize they serve food. But the bar readily serves up highbrow specialties like pomme frites with cranberry ketchup or scallops with wild mushroom risotto to compliment their wine selections.
A glance through their RW menu reveals inventive options like chilled tomato bacon bisque, braised beef short ribs with and smoked gouda cheese grits, and these beautiful morsels, the Blend Gulf Crab Cakes.
Chef Cody Tregre has crafted these panko-crusted crab cakes with local celery, leeks, and green onions to give the dish a freshness that counters the depth of flavor filling the plate. Topped with chive oil and a cebollita aioli and served up with chow chow (a New Orleans-style relish) and corn and pepper maque choux, complex flavor profiles come together in perfect harmony.
But the real star of the show is the jumbo lump meat fresh from Louisiana blue crabs.
“You’re getting crab. I’m not trying to hide it under a bunch of breading and egg and mayo,” Tregre said. “What you taste first and foremost is the crab.”
Owner Andy Blouin hopes that Restaurant week will help show of just how much Blend has to offer.
“The difference between us and any other place is that we’re not just [one] experience. We’re a wine bar with and a restaurant with excellent food. We’ve got a smaller menu, but it allows us to experiment more with the different local seafood and fresh produce, and then we’ll actually change that up a lot,” Blouin said. “And it’s not just a dining experience—you can come in, enjoy wine, and get educated about wine.”