Blue Ribbon is one of a long list of restaurants that we'd always sort of been meaning to try but never quite got around to.
Paul has friends who rave about the restaurant, and he was more eager that I to see what all the fuss was about. That made Blue Ribbon his obvious choice for the birthday-meal-he-gets-to-choose-without-any-complaints-from-me.
And so on a recent Saturday night we found ourselves at the door to the original Blue Ribbon restaurant in Soho. (The restaurant has several spin-offs in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, some specializing in sushi and baked goods.) The space was small -- there couldn't have been room for many more than 50 diners -- and every table was occupied when we arrived at 9 p.m., and the bar/waiting area was packed. Two hour wait, we were told. We could go to a nearby bar for an hour and then check back in. Maybe something would open up.
We did as we were told, but we still had an hour wait when we returned. We were seated just a few minutes before 11. This is the second year in a row that Paul chose a restaurant for his birthday that doesn't accept reservations for parties of two. I sincerely hope this doesn't become an annual tradition.
The birthday boy chose the appetizer -- beef marrow and oxtail marmalade. It started the evening's trend: fatty, rich foods. A white glob of marrow the size of a pencil eraser went a long way paired with the meaty richness of the marmalade, sprinkled with sea salt and layered on toast. (Apologies -- the restaurant was dim, so the photo quality is low.)
Paul ordered the fried chicken. It was good, he said, but the accompanying collard greens stood out for their almost crunchy texture. I got the roasted duck club sandwich. It was too fatty for my taste, but the raisin nut bread the sandwich was made with was delicious, and the side of crispy sweet potato fries was amazing.
So while Blue Ribbon isn't my type of restaurant, I can understand what makes it a favorite -- decadent comfort foods that make you feel warm and sleepy, just like on Thanksgiving afternoon. Unfortunately, we were eating this meal at midnight, a time when I normally already feel warm and sleepy. We left at 1 a.m., full and thirsty.