East End Eats: A Friendly Spot for Well-Priced Dinners

The Blend offers what people want: good value and hearty portions
Peter Bologna navigated the wine list at the Blend at Three Mile Harbor, the restaurant that Luis DeLoera recently opened in the space formerly occupied by Harbor Grill. The Blend's extensive menu offers substantial portions of well-prepared food at reasonable prices. Laura Donnelly

Fans of Michael’s Restaurant (and they are legion) will be thrilled to know that its chef and owner, Luis DeLoera, has opened a new place, called the Blend at Three Mile Harbor. On the site where Harbor Grill used to be, it is an attractive space — beige and white wood, exposed beams, some framed mirrors around the dining area — with a good-size bar to the right as you enter.  A wall of glass and wooden doors creates a barrier between the dining room and the bar, to cut down on the din at Happy Hour.

On both recent visits, the owner was working behind the bar and came out to greet each and every guest in the dining room. This is always much appreciated. Like Michael’s, the Blend offers what people want: good value and hearty portions.

Upon being seated you get a bowl of green olives, a basket of good, crusty sliced bread, and some foil-wrapped butter pats (the man in the White House’s favorite because they haven’t been touched by human fingers!).

We began our meal with Caesar salad, calamari, tuna tartare, and baked clams. The Caesar salad was very good, with a lemony dressing, plenty of grated Parmesan (or Romano) cheese, house-made croutons — and bonus points for the two white anchovies resting on top. The calamari was pretty good, the rings a bit chewy, and it was served with one dish of marinara sauce and one with a chili aioli. The tuna tartare was a good version, big diced chunks of tuna with avocado in a citrusy dressing, with some tomato slices on the side. The menu said it was served with toasted bread crisps, but it was served with homemade potato gaufrettes, which were delicious and crunchy and able to withstand the weight of the tuna chunks. The baked clams, also pretty good, were six littlenecks with a lot of diced red pepper and bread crumbs.

For entrees we ordered the flounder, steak au poivre, braised lamb shank, and paccheri (a big tubular pasta similar to rigatoni) with Bolognese sauce. There are no side dishes offered at the Blend, because most entrees come complete with a vegetable (in this case, steamed vegetables on three of the entrees) and rice or potatoes. My guest found the flounder fresh and well seasoned, but a bit dry. “Steamed vegetables” sounds kind of boring, but the vegetables here had more oomph and more than evaporated water involved in their cooking: They were a medley of broccoli, red peppers, cauliflower, and asparagus and maybe a bit of butter. The flounder was also served with some rice.

The steak au poivre was an excellent, juicy steak, cooked perfectly to order and sliced, but the accompanying sauce had been made with finely ground black pepper, offering nothing but an intense, blasting heat. Steak au poivre is usually made with coarsely crushed peppercorns pressed into the meat before searing. The truffle fries served with it were hand-cut, loaded with Parmesan cheese and truffle oil, and were delicious. The braised lamb shank was also good, very tender and flavorful, served with the aforementioned vegetable side, and some good mashed potatoes flecked with bits of goat cheese. The paccheri was the dud of the bunch, simply because the pasta bordered on raw, like pre-al dente, so chewy it almost crunched. The Bolognese sauce, however, was very good. You could taste the full variety of meats used in its preparation.

The service on the night of our visit was excellent; our waiter, Todd, was knowledgeable and friendly. I had assumed the Blend was so named because it has an impressively large and reasonably priced wine list and they use beautiful wine glasses. That’s all true, concurred Todd, but it’s also called the Blend because the owner is half-Italian, half-Mexican, and his wife is Filipino, and there are meant to be some slightly Filipino touches throughout the menu. We couldn’t find the Filipino accents, but the menu at Michael’s does indeed have a few Southeast Asian touches. The Blend’s menu is surprisingly long for such a small space, with more than 16 appetizers and 17 entrees, plus a full-page prix fixe menu. The prices are moderate. Appetizers are $10 to $18, entrees are $24 to $38, and desserts are $7 to $10. 

We sampled a few desserts (not made in house), and they were just okay. We tried the cheesecake, which was very dense, period. The carrot cake was average. On a previous visit I had tried a chocolaty-peanut-butter brownie thingy and it was, again, not bad.

Over all, it was a nice experience. The Blend offers good value and some very good dishes at reasonable prices in a friendly atmosphere. Ask your server to direct you toward what’s best.