The Blue Ribbon family of restaurants has earned a reputation for quality in the modern New York City restaurant scene. And the brothers behind them, Bruce and Eric Bromberg, have been aggressively expanding their dining empire. But I have always felt that they were somehow out of reach for a simple guy like me.
So when I heard they recently opened Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken, a relatively casual place that seemed more suited to my pedestrian sensibilities, I knew this was my entrance into their culinary kingdom. Located on the corner of Second Avenue and First Street in the East Village, it has a very Shake Shack vibe – from the lines and buzzers at the counter to the metal trays and semi-communal seating. Let’s face it…as nice as these new establishments are, they are nothing more than glorified fast food. Or, to be a tad less cynical, they are fast food done right.
The young lady behind the counter was about as pleasant as one can be in this low-wage world. With her hesitant guidance, I opted to order a la carte: a drumstick, thigh, breast and fries along with a Boylan’s root beer. Not a bad haul, for under $20.
The chicken was good, albeit a little heavily spiced for my liking. In fact, I got the sense that it was once a very healthy bird. No pockets of fat – or what you hope is fat – hidden beneath the skin. No hard chunks of what you hope is cartilage. Just healthy muscle tissue cooked to an incredibly juicy perfection.
While I am certain that Blue Ribbon’s fried chicken is probably the healthiest I’ve ever eaten, I am afraid I still prefer the Colonel’s. And though the analogy will likely cost me dearly some day, fried chicken is a lot like women. The bird that was raised the best isn’t necessarily the one you will enjoy the most.
My three pieces of chicken proved to be plenty of food – probably more than I needed. The fries were also good, though a bit thin for my preference.
Some with more sophisticated palates (not to mention a fondness for riding the latest trends) might find themselves enamored with Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken. But given all the wonderful eating options in that area, I can’t see myself venturing back there anytime soon.