Blue Ribbon Bakery
Address: 35 Downing Street, New York NY 10014 (Greenwich Village, b/n Downing and Bedford; map)
Getting There: 1 train to Houston Street; B/C/D/E/F/V to West 4th Street
Cost: $14.50, comes with fries
The Skinny: Very good thick and expansive burger with potential for greatness, were it cooked to order and more juicy. Excellent custom house-made bun.
Want Fries with That? Yes. Even if they didn't come standard with this burger, they're hand-cut and quite good, with a crisp salty exterior and fluffy moist interior.
Went to Blue Ribbon Bakery for brunch yesterday. Like many New Yorkers, I'm a fan of the place. I normally go at dinner and get the fried chicken, which I think is among the best in the city, but this time I wanted to try the burger again, having had it on a couple of occasions before.
It's pretty good, not great, but has greatness potential. At least the one I had on this most recent visit.
First off, I love the size and shape. It's a hefty burger, I'm guessing eight ounces or so, but it's not the typical New York pub-style burger that I'd normally slag off in a report. Instead, its patty is thick and expansive (about an inch thick and probably just shy of six inches in diameter), filling out a custom-baked, lightly toasted, modestly sesame-topped bun.
And while Serious Eats overlord Ed Levine once deemed it a "fancy-pants" burger, I'd say that the Blue Ribbon burger is just south of being fancy—or at least steps on the border of fanciness but doesn't cross into absurd territory. Sure, the surroundings at Blue Ribbon are more upscale than a corner diner, but the burger itself is straightforward and powerful, served with some great fries, a wedge of iceberg lettuce, a couple thin slices of red onion and tomato, and a pickle spear. No fancy-pants hallmarks like a brioche bun or frisée in place of lettuce. No off-balance house-made ketchup.
The only thing keeping this burger from being truly great—at least this time—was that it was cooked to medium or so instead of the medium-rare I'd ordered. Which might explain, in part, a lack of overall juiciness. Not to say that it was dry, just that a burger this thick and good-looking seemed like it would be bursting with moistness. It was not.
The relative lack of juice, though, wouldn't stop me from ordering it here if I were in a burger mood. And I'll likely order it again, if just to check up on it from time to time. That is, if I'm not down with the fried chicken and mashers for some odd reason.