Blue Ribbon

photo by Dominic Perri

Brothers Bruce and Eric Bromberg birthed their multifaceted empire — a collection of properties that includes sushi bars and fried-chicken franchises — with this buzzing Soho restaurant that has served as a respite for chefs and industry folk with nocturnal schedules since opening in 1992. Blue Ribbon’s moniker is inspired by the famed Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where the brothers received their culinary education. A massive raw bar dominates the front of the room, where patrons jockey for seats and a 4 a.m. closing time keeps the counter humming with the sound of discarded shells clanking against ceramic. Oysters show up on most tables, as do New Orleans shrimp served in the shell with a silky Cajun mayonnaise. But surely the dish most synonymous with late-night downtown revelry is Blue Ribbon’s luxurious beef marrow with oxtail marmalade, spread on charred bread and chased with a sip of beer or a glass of inky red. The Brombergs’ fried chicken is one of the best renditions in town — so good that the brothers were willing to bet a fast-food franchise on it. For all of the restaurant’s bistro trappings, the menu harbors plenty of surprises, including a deep bowl of “wor matzoh for 2,” a take on matzoh ball soup that marries the fluffy rounds with an unusual assortment of non-kosher delights like shellfish and pork, plus poultry and root vegetables accented by vibrant herbs that pull the dish toward Southeast Asia.