NYCReview

photo credit: Blue Ribbon Brasserie

Blue Ribbon Brasserie review image
8.6

Blue Ribbon Brasserie

$$$$

97 Sullivan St, New York
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Blue Ribbon is like a movie that you haven’t seen in 10 years that makes you think: “I forgot how good this is.” This American restaurant—which opened in 1992—is known for a lot of things, such as being a destination for chefs after their shifts and spawning a restaurant empire spanning multiple cities (including an offshoot based on a single dish). But we mostly think of it as an undisputed NYC classic and one of the first places we want to go at 11pm when we need a meal that doesn’t involve something between two buns.

It feels like the staff at Blue Ribbon get together every January and go through a presentation titled "Let’s Make Sure This Year is Exactly the Same as Last Year.” Fittingly, the menu hasn’t changed much since this place opened. Some of the go-to items are still the beef bone marrow with oxtail marmalade, the rack of lamb, and anything from the extensive cold seafood section of the menu. (We gravitate towards the raw clams and the king crab cocktail with spicy mayo.) Gems you shouldn’t overlook include the super tender and garlicky strips of sauteed calamari and the collards that maintain some of their crunchy texture despite being cooked in butter. The latter make an appearance in multiple dishes (and on their own as a side), which suggests that the kitchen probably knows they're a highlight too.

Blue Ribbon Brasserie review image

photo credit: Blue Ribbon Brasserie

We forget how small this restaurant's dimly-lit dining room is every time we come here. You’ll usually see some regulars who have been dining at Blue Ribbon Brasserie for decades sitting together in mostly silence, making a few obligatory comments about the kids or how the heat doesn’t seem to be working that well recently. At this point, this place probably isn’t the first restaurant that comes to mind when you’re thinking of where to eat. But once you plan a meal here, you'll feel like you’re about to hang out with someone you’ve always had a crush on but never get to see.

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Food Rundown

Raw Clams

We could easily list raw oysters here, but clams are like the oft-ignored Manning brother (who, by the way, was apparently a pretty good player before he got injured). The clams come plump without any traces of shards from clumsy shucking. We prefer these for dessert (not kidding) without any accompaniments, but they do come with mignonette, cocktail sauce, and a lemon vinaigrette with herbs if that's more your speed.

Crab Cocktail

Given this item comes with very little king crab, it's on the pricey side at $30. But can you really put a price on not having to crack open a single shell? It comes with a small side of spicy mayo, which tastes like a mixture of tartar and cocktail sauces.

Blue Ribbon Brasserie review image

photo credit: Blue Ribbon Brasserie

Beef Marrow & Oxtail Marmalade

This is one of the best dishes to ever come out of any restaurant in NYC. You'll get pure richness from the bone marrow and sweetness from the marmalade. And just like every time you approach the end of a pint of ice cream, you'll be scraping the insides of those bones until you're convinced there's nothing left.

Sautéed Calamari

This dish might sound boring. After all, it's just calamari sauteed in olive oil and garlic. But the texture is so tender that we had to double-check that we were actually eating squid. We usually stick to a handful of old standbys when we order, but after ordering this on a whim, we now want to take a chance on everything else on the menu going forward.

Blue Ribbon Brasserie review image

photo credit: Blue Ribbon Brasserie

Fried Chicken

Yes, you can get this at other places, so why should you order it here? One reason is the side of sautéed collard greens, which are buttery and never wilty. We might be imagining this, but we sometimes detect some wok hei-like smokiness, which makes us love these greens even more. If you're in the mood for fried chicken, just get it—you're already here.

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