Growing up, when brothers Bruce and Eric Bromberg’s mom wasn’t in the mood for cooking, they’d order their favorite meal—fried chicken—delivered directly to their door. “We loved fried chicken, and it always came with barbecue sauce. But my mom brought out the golden honey bear bottle, and we ate it that way.” It was years later, after French culinary school and frequent travels and escapades, when the brothers from New Jersey decided to unleash their childhood inspiration at their very first Blue Ribbon location in the SoHo neighborhood in New York City. Now, 25 years later, the newest iteration of the original Blue Ribbon, located inside The Cosmopolitan, is a culinary throwback (fried chicken is on the menu, natch) and a mix of everything they love to eat.
When they were conceptualizing their first restaurant, “we literally asked ourselves what our favorite memories were,” says Bruce. Eventually they brought their worldly influences with their fondest food recollections woven into the menu. Their inspiration for cheese fondue? Colorado ski trips with parents. Raw bar? Eric’s culinary education in New Orleans. Ask about the genesis of each dish and the brothers draw into their culinary memory bank. “It’s a pleasure to revisit the original Blue Ribbon. Its concept allows us to express what we have been holding inside all these years. It’s the best of our favorite culinary moments growing up as kids in New Jersey, frequently going with our dad in search of the next great place to eat.”
“Our bar in the new Blue Ribbon Las Vegas is New Orleans meets New York meets northeast coast of France.” —Bruce Bromberg.
At Blue Ribbon, diners will find many of their gastronomic throwbacks, from matzoh ball soup inspired by the brothers’ visits to their grandparent’s house to paella from their travels through Spain. The crispy-crunchy fried chicken is served over savory fried collard greens alongside mashed potatoes, gravy and honey, just the way the Bromberg boys liked it. Other signature items include the beef marrow and oxtail marmalade—scooped up with a diminutive demitasse spoon, the marrow provides a luxurious bite with or without the accompanying toast; and cheese fondue, an interactive nod to the ’70s with a pot of melty cheeses, including raclette and Gruyère, in which to dip chunks of bread, apple slices and a sprinkling of bacon bits that you can share among friends.
There are also creations exclusive to Las Vegas, such as pan-roasted Dover sole with artichokes and capers; bourbon-glazed pork prime rib; and, most notably, the skin-on red trout filet seared to perfection and served with spätzle, wild mushrooms, sage and almond butter. From the raw bar, there is an array of fresh offerings, from a sashimi plate of yellowtail, salmon and tuna, to a platter of seasonal shellfish, including oysters, clams, New Orleans shrimp, lobster and shrimp cocktail.
When you enter Blue Ribbon, prepare for a festive feeling. A welcoming focal point is a large rectangular bar showcasing all the necessities for cheerful imbibing. Along the sides are alcoves of velvet-covered dining booths for intimate conversations. “It’s extremely convivial,” Bruce says. “It sparkles; there is a sea of shimmering lights, color and rich velvets.” Under a sky of low-hanging, vintage-inspired globe pendants, guests will experience a social casualness, inviting them to pull up a chair for a burger and beer. But it’s also an elegant spot fitting for Champagne and caviar.
An Origin Story
What’s not to love about fried chicken? You sink your teeth into that crunchy, crisp crust, fried to golden-brown perfection, knowing that super juicy, moist meat is just beneath. How did the fried-chicken-loving brothers from New Jersey come up their famous recipe? The story goes that they were making matzo balls one day and had a little extra matzoh meal on hand. They wondered what it would be like to coat the chicken in the matzo then toss it in the fryer. “It was the ‘Aha!’’ moment of our careers,” Bruce says. “The matzo is not leavened so it has a different absorbing quality; it sticks beautifully. It was unbelievably crispy, delicious, flavorful.”
“I absolutely attribute our success to my partnership with my brother and our staff,” Bruce says. “When we first opened, we had 14 employees; 11 are still with us, but now they are owners, managers, partners …” Jason Corwin, executive chef of Blue Ribbon Las Vegas, is one of them, originally coming from Blue Ribbon Brasserie in Brooklyn. Bruce and Eric strive to provide a dynamic environment for their staff. “We also stay focused on making our customers happy and we know where our strengths are in the culinary world, and that is provide a place that is fun.”
Blue Ribbon Las Vegas inside The Cosmopolitan
Sun.–Thurs., 5 p.m.–1 a.m., Fri.–Sat., 5 p.m.–2 a.m., cosmopolitanlasvegas.com