The Blue Ribbon Experience

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I just had the most amazing culinary experience of my life.  I had the pleasure of dining with five of my classmates, along with another friend, at the Blue Ribbon Restaurant in Soho.  

Chef Karen recommended this restaurant to our class a couple of weeks ago because of its bone marrow & oxtail appetizer.  When we listened to her explanation of this dish we knew we had to plan a class trip!  Oh boy was she right!  This appetizer was an experience in itself.  BUT before we get to that, I must start at the beginning..

We arrived at the fairly empty restaurant (it was only 5:45) and were led to a cozy both.  We all reviewed the menus and were a little unsure of what to order.  We had to decide whether we just wanted to share appetizers and which ones we should get.  We also came right from school so we've been tasting foods all day and didn't want to go too crazy with the amount of food.  Our waiter was extremely helpful and gave us a few suggestions on the best appetizers and the order in which we will eat them so that the whole experience is perfect.  We finally made our decisions and placed our order.

Obviously, we had to start with a nice beverage to accompany this anticipated meal.  We couldn't have chosen a better wine, a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, to pair with the luscious, rich spread of food.

We were surprised when the first dishes arrived at our table because it was not what we ordered!  The server announced that he brought some extra appetizers for us on the house (he knew we were culinary arts students and were excited to try many of the menu options)!  Some of the complementary items included Foie Gras Terrine:

fried oysters:

and grilled octopus (I failed to get a picture of this because I dropped my camera under the table and couldn't reach it..woops).   The oysters were served on a creamy spinach, bacon, and apple sauce.  I splashed a bit of the "special hot sauce" on top.  It was out of this world!!  The octopus had a very distinct grilled flavor, which was extremely tasty.  The foie gras was served with toasted bread and shredded apples.  I loved making my own little "foie gras sandwich" with a little bit of everything in every bite.  The apples were a great addition for an extra bit of sweetness and crunch.  I made sure to taste the foie gras on its own (it was my first time trying it) and it was amazing!

Next, the first plates that we ordered arrived (and we already had so much food!).  Our spread included raw oysters on the half-shell, grilled shrimp remoulade with zucchini fries, and a warm goat cheese salad.  My favorite was the grilled shrimp--I loved the creamy remoulade sauce underneath each shrimp.

Our "transition" dish before the star of the show was a creamy 3-cheese & white wine fondue.  We were each given a long fondue fork and dipped a selection of cubed bread, sliced apple, and breadsticks into the gooey cheese mixture.  Towards the end, we added some bacon bits and scraped up the rest of the sauce!

Alright, now time for the part of the meal that changed my life (well at least my life as it pertains to food).  We received our bone marrow, which was served over an oxtail marmalade and surrounded by toasted challah bread.  This is how you eat this culinary creation:
You take the tiny fork they give you with the dish and scrape the inside of the bone.  The marrow pops out of the bone and you mix it in with the oxtail marmalade.  Then you take a piece of bread and spread the marrow/oxtail mixture on top and sprinkle it with a bit of sea salt.  I can't even explain the flavors in my mouth.  I was speechless.

Along with our 2 orders of bone marrow, we had an order of escargot.  This was sort of like a stew and had some vegetables mixed in with a super thick, rich sauce.  My favorite part was the strip of bread waiting at the bottom of the bowl that was just soaking up all of the flavors.  It was the perfect little surprise when you reach the end of the bowl!

When the waiter came back to take our dessert orders we all agreed that we were way too satisfied and wanted to end the food experience with the bone marrow.  

You've probably noticed I used the word "experience" a lot in this review, and that is because Blue Ribbon did turn eating dinner into an experience for me-- especially with the way the food was presented.  The waiter gave us suggestions/instructions on how to approach the dishes and from there we were able to interact with the food and create our own perfect bites.

I can't wait to return and try some of the other dishes on the menu.  We only tried appetizers, so I can only imagine what the main dishes entail!


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