Since opening their first restaurant back in 1992, Bruce and Eric Bromberg have developed a loyal following both for their hours (open until 4am, seven nights a week) and for their famous fried chicken. Now, after years of requests, the Bromberg Brothers have expanded their mini-empire by opening Bromberg Bros. Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken in the East Village. While all of their restaurants are decidedly casual and accessible, this latest venture is their first foray into the growing “fast-casual” restaurant category. Despite a mixed reception early on, this upscale fried chicken joint has managed to work the kinks out and become a new neighborhood hot spot.
As expected, Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken’s menu is centered around its namesake: the Bromberg Brothers’ famous fried chicken. Served both by the piece and in special platters with include fries and cole slaw (prices from $9.75 to $16.50), the chicken is exactly how all fried chicken should be: crisp on the outside with tender meat and just a hint of spice. Though the special Blue Ribbon spice mix has plenty of flavor, the restaurant offers a vast selection of sauces and honeys ranging from simple wildflower honey to wasabi honey and a signature barbecue sauce (our recommendation? Try them all).
In addition to a satisfying crispy chicken sandwich, Blue Ribbon also offers several standout chicken burgers. Served on toasted homemade buns, the burgers range from a simple patty to the more adventurous “Kerry’s Classic,” which plays on the sweet-savory trend by adding a slice of caramelized pineapple.
“Go big or go home” is the best way to describe the sides here. While the cole slaw is well executed and the griddled corn with bacon is a great riff on a classic, both leave something to be desired. This is where “fries with the works” come in. For an extra $2.50 ($3.50 for a large order),“the works” adds cheddar, bacon and sour cream to any order of the restaurant’s crisp, thin-cut fries. The result: one of the most sinfully delicious side dishes around.
For those looking to have a complete experience, Blue Ribbon steps up with a stellar beverage and dessert program. Not only do they offer Boylan’s Soda on tap, they also have a selection of beers and – for the classiest fried chicken experience – organic wines by the glass. In an effort to prove that incredibly rich and creamy milkshakes can be made with real ingredients, Blue Ribbon uses local Steve’s Ice Cream to create a drinkable dessert that goes down dangerously fast. Your mind (and probably your body) might tell you no, but a milkshake of this caliber is the only adequate ending to a meal this comforting and calorie laden.
While it is definitely on the expensive side for a spot that blurs the line between fast-casual and true homestyle comfort food, this is a place that every New Yorker should try at least once. Plus, as further incentive, the restaurant has recently launched a 10 percent discount exclusively for NYU students. In true Bromberg Brothers fashion, Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken provides consistent quality and a great experience in a time when both are increasingly hard to come by.
Location: 28 E 1st St (bet 2nd Ave & Extra Pl)
Hours of Operation: Daily 11am to 2am