The Star Ledger review: and the specter of Chef Needham
Vito's Deli: Hoboken, memory lane

Ridgewood's Blend: gone (yay!), but coming back (awww...)

Update (11/22/08):  More doins at Blend reported on the Bergen Record's blog.

Blend opened up several years ago, taking up what seemed to be an entire block of Ridgewood's somewhat quaint downtown area.  Then it closed a few months ago, bankrupt.  But not before I spent some quality time at this restaurant-cum-dance-club-cum-live-music-venue.

During one of my first meals, on what was a guys-night-out sort of thing, my strip steak came to the table in the form of filet mignon.  I sent it back and waited.  And waited.  The manager, who was very nice, came over and apologized, explaining that they had my new steak ready and were bringing it out but the server dropped it on the stairs, so they were making yet another one.  I appreciated her honesty, we all had a good laugh, and we still chuckle about it today.  The steak?  I don't recall it being notable in the least.  But a good time was had by all.

On another visit, I spent a lazy afternoon at the back bar talking to the bartender (Steve, at the time), about cocktails and tequila.  He set up a little tequila tasting for me, and we had a grand ol' time.  The burger, not all that exceptional.  But the experience?  Wonderful.

But beyond those two visits, Blend just didn't do it for me.  The food was simply not very good.  And if I went at night to soak in that nightclub thing they had going, I'd find myself looking around, wondering who all these people were and from where they came.  They sure didn't look my neighbors and friends.  

That was indicative of my biggest issue with Blend:  it didn't serve the community. And to top off the perceived insult with tangible injury, its valet service seemed to take up about 90% of the only large parking lot in downtown Ridgewood.  Pre-Blend-opening, you could always get a spot there for 2 bucks for the whole night.  In a post-Blend-opening world, that parking lot was practically useless...unless you were going to Blend.  Or should I say, unless you were pretending as though you were going to Blend.  Many a time I would drop off my guests at our restaurant of choice, pull into that valet lot, hand over my keys, walk in the back door of Blend and right out the front.  2 dollar parking just turned free.

But my craftiness isn't what I came here to share.

The Bergen Record's new Page Six gossip column reported that Blend's assets were being auctioned off.  I was really looking forward to watching this thing play out.  Surely the owners of the building would have to buy the liquor license.  I mean, this is a huge space, and a restaurant of that size without a liquor license?  Forget it.  Not with that rent.  And if they didn't?  What would happen?  My guess is that it would have turned into another bank, just like the brand new one we have a block away where the car dealership was up until last year.  <bank rant>Does anyone actually walk into a bank anymore?  If you do please email and let me know what the eff it is that you're doing that you need to do do it in the actual bank building.  Thanks.  I mean, I've bought several homes, had more mortgages and re-fis than I care to admit, purchased and leased cars, owned a business, hell I even have a savings account, but I can count on one hand the number of times I've walked into a bank in the last 5 years.  And if your answer is that you don't trust computers and ATM machines well guess what:  I'm stealing all of your account info as you read this.  Thanks, again.</bank rant>

But things didn't play out at all like I had thought they would: one of the investors in Blend bought it back, and will open it up as, Blend.  

Are you ready for it?  The "callback"?  The tried-and-true-and-utterly-lazy writing device whereby you refer back to something that you previously mentioned for that slamp-dunk "bet you didn't see that coming" final sentence?  Here it is.  Hold on.  Brace yourself:

Awesome.  Free valet parking is back.  


[tommyeats lives in north Jersey, doesn't like banks, and when not writing for can often be found thinking about how he hasn't been writing much for]