Finding good food after midnight can be a challenge. But in the city that never sleeps, Blue Ribbon has long been an oasis of the small hours—for community as well as the cooking.
Twenty-five years ago, before their Brooklyn bowling alley and subterranean bakery, before the South Beach sushi bar and grill and Las Vegas fried-chicken joint, there was Blue Ribbon Brasserie, Bruce and Eric Bromberg’s original room with the red velvet glow, at the confluence of New York City’s West Village and Soho neighborhoods. Bound by an admiration for fat and built for bonhomie, the menu is a novella and an anachronism: warm slicks of beef marrow smeared on grilled rustic bread. Torn collard greens blister-fried in rendered beef fat. Slabs of room-temperature foie gras terrine. Schmaltzy matzo balls bobbing in chicken broth. You’ll encounter curly parsley. You’ll taste Paris, along with New Orleans and the soul of Jewish home kitchens. Then the pu pu platter arrives, blue-flame-licking lacquered ribs, a wink to postwar Trader Vic’s. Eat your heart out. And it’s open late, really late (4 a.m.), which has made Blue Ribbon a favorite of New York City chefs for post-shift drinks and eats, both then and now.
I arrived a decade late to the Blue Ribbon party, in the early aughts, when I moved to New York in search of restaurant work. Later, when my now-wife and I were dating long distance, I took her there to celebrate long weekends. This past spring I returned, after midnight, with one of my chef mentors to celebrate one of the biggest nights of my career. The mojo remains. The room still glows.
Blue Ribbon Brasserie, 97 Sullivan Street, New York, NY, 212-274-0404