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« Dinner at Apizz, 4/18/08 | Main | It's raining cupcakes! 4/09/08 »

Brunch at Blue Ribbon Bakery, 4/13/08

Em and I had a tough time deciding between Blue Ribbon and The Little Owl for our upcoming brunch on Sunday, but since she'd already been to The Little Owl, we chose to go with Blue Ribbon, a restaurant neither of us had been to. We hadn't had a chance to debrief about the charity auction that we attended on Friday evening...Which also happened to be the first time I met Steve, Em's main squeeze. Needless to say, we were excited about catching up and gossiping over brunch together.

Em picked me up a little past 11 a.m. on Sunday. When we arrived at Blue Ribbon, we were greeted by a long line of people waiting for the restaurant to open its doors to the public. Luckily, we only had to wait ten minutes for the 11:30 a.m. opening.

By 11:35 a.m., Em and I were whisked to our two-top table, handed menus and a wine list. Prior to perusing the brunch options, I took a quick mental picture of my surroundings. Blue Ribbon is comprised of two stories, one above ground and the other below street level. The space evoked that of a bistro/brasserie; its walls were lined with exposed brick and oversized mirrors that are typically decorated with menu specials written in French. I would later find that all of the fresh breads were baked downstairs in an open kitchen, surrounded by various dungeon/wine-cave-like rooms filled with hungry patrons. (Note to self: Blue Ribbon's hidden downstairs chamber would be the perfect spot for a romantic date.)

Our waiter greeted us with chilled water and took our drink orders. Emily asked for a coffee and I went with a glass of dessert Riesling. Upon reading the food menu, we both made the observation of how pricey everything seemed, for example: French onion soup for $13. We decided to each get a vegetable to start, then a bowl of French onion for our main course. The steamed artichoke with vinaigrette caught Em's eye, while the roasted garlic bulb tickled my fancy. After placing our orders, a gorgeous basket of warm, freshly-baked bread arrived. Unfortunately, the ice-cold butter it came with was unspreadable for at least 10 minutes.
My glass of wine had been empty for almost twenty minutes before I was able to flag down a busboy (not our waiter) and order fresh lemonade without ice. It wasn't until about noon that Em and I received our appetizers (note that we arrived at 11:30!). The roasted garlic bulb I ordered looked delicious and was perfectly baked to a caramelized deep brown, but it was drenched in so much olive oil, that I almost felt it defeated the purpose of ordering a vegetable. Once I spread its creamy paste on the fresh bread and took my first bite however, I took a step back and offered Blue Ribbon
an ounce of forgiveness...Nothing compliments each other better than homemade bread and buttery, roasted garlic. Top that with a light fairy dusting of sea salt, and I was in heaven! Emily's artichoke, on the other hand, wasn't as large as she had imagined, especially coming from a restaurant that appears to be a purveyor of only the finest farm-fresh ingredients (not a place you'd think would serve small, cheap artichokes that you can get anywhere).

By 12:30 p.m., Em and I were more than done with our appetizers. We were looking around the dining room, taking note of when other guests received their first plates and entrees. As Em stepped away to wash her hands, the unfriendly, crazed manager finally brought our soups. I mentioned to him that we had waited an hour for our entrees and he replied...As he walked away from my table..."Well, we thought you wanted your appetizers first." Wow dude, is that the best line you can come up with?? In fact, last time I checked, "2 + 2 = 4," just like "appetizer comes before entree."

The soup was served in a larger-than-life sized bowl and filled to the very top with silky, deep brown onion-laden broth, a thin slice of day-old white bread and melted gruyere that was broiled long enough to turn its crust a blistering golden brown. This was the first time I've had French onion soup where the bread/crouton wasn't an inch thick...And I liked it! As much as I hate to say it, Blue Ribbon does make a mean bowl of soupe l'oginon.

When the check arrived, Em and I noted that no items were taken off of our bill as a courtesy for our long wait. We decided not to say anything and just suck it up, pay the pricey tab and get the hell out of there. Would I ever go back to Blue Ribbon? I'm not sure. While the food was tasty, the service left a sour taste in my mouth, thus overriding the few positive aspects of our meal. It's like I always say, "If you're not a patient people person, don't work in the hospitality industry. But if you must, take a gig in the back-of-the-house, for God's sake."

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