Blended Cafe Bar is an intimate little eatery in a massively large space. It’s funny, Juliana’s Fine Tuscan Cuisine, which held this space previously, never struck me as occupying an airplane hangar-sized room. Perhaps the owners plan on holding line-dancing lessons or renting the extra space out for corporate meetings.
It’s distractingly large is what I’m trying to say.
But it’s bright and tidy —though oddly there’s a plastic carpet protector on the bench that serves as a banquette along the wall — and there’s no reason you can’t have a private conversation without being overheard by the people at the next table, which may or may not be in a different zip code.
There isn’t anything about the name to indicate that Blended is primarily a Vietnamese restaurant. But its menu consists primarily of bánh mìs and baos. Nice ones, too.
I ordered the Grilled Pork bánh mì, which had the requisite pickled vegetables (carrots, daikon) plus Vietnamese mayo and a wonderful stash of fresh cilantro. At first glance I thought the roll was going to be hard and crunchy but in fact it was soft and tasted fresh.
I also got a bao filled with Crispy Tofu. The nonmeat was breaded and fried and tucked into the steamed buns with a slice of cucumber, vegetables and a sprig or two of cilantro. Nice flavors.
The only thing I didn’t care for was the Chicken Dumplings. They were deep fried and greasy, and they tasted as though the fryer was due for an oil change.
The young women staffing the place — just two, as far as I could tell — were cheerful and welcoming. I didn’t hear anyone thank me as I left, but it could be that the sound just didn’t travel that far.
Blended Cafe Bar is at 2306 Edgewater Drive, Orlando. It is open for lunch Tuesday through Sunday and for early dinner (7 p.m. closing) Tuesday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-868-9836.