Brothers Bruce and Eric Bromberg founded the beloved brand of Blue Ribbon more than two decades ago in lower Manhattan. They have since created an empire, with chains in New Orleans, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, and so on (more than 20 locations) and now South Beach has a brand new spot inside the Plymouth Hotel at 336 21st Street. Here they will service the hotel with an all-day food and bar program as well as a poolside menu.
The dimly lit restaurant with warm woods, seats about a total of 145 people inside and out, including a private upstairs dining room. If you don’t know by now I am not a fan of chain restaurants, to me they are a scourge on fine dining. Few if any turn out consistently great food, and this includes the new Blue Ribbon Sushi. The fish isn’t exquisite or expertly cut, and the rice wasn’t remarkable either, it wasn’t perfectly seasoned and served warm. The food wasn’t bad, it was just mediocre. Don’t shoot the messenger, I know this chain has a lot of hype, but for me the food just wasn’t that good.
The first strike was a paper napkin. Really!!! When I spend over $200 for my meal I expect a cloth napkin. I also like a good quality chopstick, but didn’t find that here either.
They say they are known for “creative” and “classic” options. The menu is HUGE with many offerings, not all Japanese sounding but more “Americanized” offerings. There is an appetizer section with over 30 options. Plus, there is a soup section, a land section with beef, oxtail, and supposedly great fried chicken, but unfortunately was not aware of this when I was ordering. There’s a sea section with salmon, and lobster, etc. There are a dozen vegetable rolls, and a maki section with about 16 choices. There are over 30 sushi and sashimi selections to choose from. There is a platter section where you can mix and match various sushi and sashimi. If it is your first time visiting the restaurant it can be overwhelming. You can find much better sushi in town. It comes close to being good and the food is decent, but it borders on mediocre. The one standout for me was the Amberjack, sliced thinly and had the subtle brush of yuzu pepper and yuzu ponzu. I am not going to go over every roll I had. We did sample a lot, but nothing else stood out for me.
I am not looking for frills or trends, or glitz and glamour, but I do want quality, and unique, fresh fish. I look for different interpretations, and I want the food to taste as good as it looks. In otherwords, I want the meal to transfix me. Blue Ribbon is not that kind of place. If you want a scene, and food that doesn’t blow you away, you will be totally satisfied. If you are looking for phenomenal food, go elsewhere.