Saturday night was another warm spring night, and we were in the mood for a dinner out. After much debate, and being turned away at a Mesa Grill that was “Sorry, fully-committed.” we decided to go to Blue Ribbon Bakery in the West Village. This is a casual gourmet restaurant known for its housemade breads.
The atmosphere is nice with rustic decor, brick walls, and candle lighting. Our first impression was good, until the waiter came by. He was a space cadette. He only distracted us from our dining experience and had nothing good to offer us in the way of menu recommendations.
The menu was quite large with over 25 small plate appetizers and crostini. We ordered the appetizer on special – Brussels sprouts, along with garlic shrimp and chorizo, mushroom ravioli, and roasted red pepper crostini. Our favorite, and the only one we finished, was the mushroom ravioli. This was done wonderfully. I could have eaten a plate of them for dinner. They were served in a mushroom cream sauce with large bits of pan roasted mushrooms. Beautiful plate and delicious. The Brussels sprouts were inedible and returned to the kitchen (very disappointing for something being put on special). The roasted red pepper “crostini” were not crostini at all. It was a french bread pizza style preparation covered in a large amount of melted mozzarella. We didn’t even recall mozzarella even being noted on the menu. The bread was thick and soft, not like the thin-sliced, toasted crostini we expected.
Entrees – more disappointment. Two orders of the house special, braised short ribs with succotash, and one market salad came late. We had to ask our waiter where the food was. Both people who ordered the short ribs thought they “were not very good at all”. They lacked any really wonderful flavor. The meat was tender and well-cooked, but the sauce needed help. It was under-seasoned and added nothing to the dish. I think it needed to be more reduced to concentrate flavor and better seasoned. The sauce would have benefited from acid, like reduced red wine. The “succotash” was just a large pile of corn, some bacon, and a few small green beans that did not look like lima beans. We aren’t sure what they were.
Our appetizers and entrees – most of which were a let down – left us hungry and we decided to order dessert. This was the best decision made the entire evening. It was to die for. We ordered a banana bread pudding served over caramel sauce with cinnamon ice cream. Yumminess to the power of ten. Though it was not very bread-pudding like, we found it to be much better than any bread pudding. The banana bread was perfect, soft, with large bits of walnuts and banana. It seemed to have been pan-crisped like french toast. Sliced ripe bananas, caramel sauce, and the wonderfully delicious and perfectly complimentary cinnamon ice cream rounded out the plate. It was a big hit. We were glad we stuck this meal out to the end.
If I were to go back, it would be for dessert only. They live up to their name and the baked goods were amazing. The bread basket at the table, and fresh baked banana bread were the best parts of the meal. Would I recommend this restaurant? Yes, for dessert. The banana bread pudding is worth the trip.