Blue Ribbon, Jan. 6, 2005

Blue Ribbon
9 Sullivan St.

Four of us went to Blue Ribbon celebrate a friend's birthday in early January. It was all of our first time there and I think we were all pretty excited about trying certain dishes that have been hyped up before. Then...we hear that the wait will be an hour and 15 minutes. Ugh. Plus there was no room in the bar area - jam packed. Then some people started to leave and the bar patrons moved to their seats and some people gave up and left so it got a little roomier pretty quick. Thirty-five minutes or so passed, and another party of four apparently gave we were graciously given the big booth at the front of the restaurant, which was perfect.

To start we ordered four of each of the oysters (12 total) that they had on ice at the bar. Unfortunately the guy who delivered them to our table couldn't speak clearly and we never figured out which ones were which - other than the kumomoto which are pretty recognizable. The only glitch in service the whole night. They were very fresh and came with three sauces...none which were excellent, but my favorite being the cilantro/onion one. The balsamic vinegar-like one was too overpowering and the cocktail sauce one was, well, cocktail sauce. (FYI - the Capital Grille does a great seafood platter and has very good sauces for their oysters).

My wife had to try their onion soup....whoa you could smell the cheese from across the room. Very strong, very large serving (bigger than usual) very tasty and overall wothwhile.

And then there was the beef marrow and oxtail marmalade. Wow. It was everything its been described as by previous tasters. It is really an unappetizing looking dish (the gelatinous marrow is a bit odd), no doubt about it...but fortunately the lights in the room dimmed a bit more just as we were about to get the dish. But the taste. Wow! Spread on the delicious, buttery toast points with a bit of the oxtail marmalade on top, and on top of that a small sprinkly of sea salt...and you have yourself a very tasty and unique dish. Definitely worth trying.

For our entrees, my wife had the NY Strip Steak (average, nothing too special - fries were just okay), the birthday girl ordered the Striped Bass (good, delicate flavoring of the fish. Nice) and both my friend Doug and I ordered the paella...which got spicier as you reached the middle of the plate. Very good...but perhaps not "saffrony" enough.

The entrees were all "good" to "very good". The appetizers were "excellent" and the service was "very good +".

Another quick word on the service. The staff are a very happy bunch for the most part (except for the mumbling and bumbling oyster deliverer) and very good at what they do. We never felt rushed at all. Everything came out to us in perfect flow and they made you feel welcome and a part of the place as if you were a regular, from the shellfish bar guy to the bartender to the waiter to the guy that cleared the crumbs off the table. Total before tip for four came to $230.00 - a bargain if you ask me. Oh...that includes drinks (2 vodka tonics and 2 7 & 7s), a vanilla creme brulee and the lemon and raspberry sorbet and a cup of coffee for dessert. Truly a great deal. I'd go back again.


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