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Week in Reviews: Blue Ribbon Pulls a Deuce

Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill, by the Kalina

Frank Bruni bestows an unlikely two stars upon Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill, the Bromberg brother's latest Blue Ribbon enterprise, this one up at 6 Columbus Circle.

With about 115 seats, it’s the biggest of the five Blue Ribbon restaurants —six if you count the market on Bedford Street — in Manhattan. (Another two abut each other in Park Slope, Brooklyn.) With more than 100 cold and hot dishes, chops and fillets, and sushi and sashimi tableaux, it’s also the deepest, broadest grab bag of the bunch...But it’s of a piece with its predecessors, which speak in the unpretentious voice of the unbound Brombergs...

In terms of pure quality, Blue Ribbon’s sushi and sashimi aren’t among the very best in town...In terms of basic deliciousness, the fried chicken, made with matzo meal in the crunchy coating and seasoned with paprika and sansho pepper, may well be...

The full read also gets you an overview of how the Brombergs are doing at their other establishments as well. Downtown, try the pu pu platter. [NYT]

Paul Adams for the Sun visits the East Village's new canteen The Smith: "A main course of lamb schnitzel ($17) shows what the kitchen can do at its best: not particularly much. Decent thin and tender lamb is breaded (the breading tends to flake off), with a squeeze of lemon on top and rich mashed potatoes beneath; the lamb's flavor comes through the coating effectively, and you walk away nourished but without a lingering memory of the meal...It's a well-run restaurant without a doubt, and pleasing some people much of the time is a fine strategy for a restaurant — even as it leaves out those of us who want something a little more special." [NYS]

Danyelle Freeman visits John McDonald's new midtown restaurant, Brasserie 44 and slaps it with 1.5 stars: "At times Ekstrom's pedigree translates to overworked dishes with underwhelming results. Medallions of lobster were clobbered by maitake mushrooms and artichoke barigoule. Not to mention a fistful of frisee and pea shoots. I felt like I was fishing for lobster in a jungle of greens. The short ribs were tough and curiously topped with a penny-sized dollop of bone marrow, which had to be identified by the server and did nothing to enhance the meat...Sequestered deep inside the belly of the hotel, Brasserie 44 is strangely adrift in a veritable abyss." [NYDN]

Moira Hodgson for the Observer files on Ilili, the Lebanese big box newly opened north of the Flatiron Building. "Being that this is a trendy restaurant in 21st-century New York, the large tables scattered through the main room are often filled entirely with young, single women. This lends the room a buzz without making it unpleasantly noisy...The baba ghanouj has a wonderful smoky charcoal taste; warmed eggplant slices are glazed with tamarind molasses, and the tabbouleh is made the way it should be, with tons more parsley than bulghur. I also loved the fattoush bread salad tossed with a sumac vinaigrette, and the plump, juicy shrimp cooked in their shells in a cast-iron pan." [Observer]

ELSEWHERE, the Times Dining Briefs have Bruni, Moskin and Meehan at Cooper's Tavern, Mermaid Inn UWS, and Bacaro; New York's Underground Gourmet visits Jody Williams' new wine bar investment, Gottino and three-stars it; Robert Sietsema at newbie bistros Belcourt and Metro Marche, both doing well 'against all odds;' Randall Lane three-of-sixes the Lebanese restaurant above the Flatiron, Ilili; Ryan Sutton has the early word on Bar Boulud (also Cooper Tavern); and Tables for Two is on West 50th Street at Toloache.

ON THE BLOGS, Feisty Foodie in Staten Island at Enoteca Maria; Scoboco at La Rural, just changed over from Pampa; American Madness has brunch at the Little Owl; and NY Journal notes significant improvements at Le Cirque.

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