A recent favorite of mine and one which justifiably occupies a place on the NY Metro’s “Cheap Eats” list is Blue Ribbon Bakery Market, on Bedford St. between W. Houston and Downing (it’s diagonally across the intersection from the restaurant of the similar name). Ostensibly a location in which to purchase the ingredients that have made the Blue Ribbon restaurants such a resounding success, it also has one other sublime function: toast.
Yes, toast, but not just thin bread slopped with butter, like in your favorite breakfast restaurant. This is toast done the English way (sort of: no baked beans in evidence), with solid toppings. More like a hearty sandwich without a second piece of bread, that is.
It is that very line of thinking that one must pursue when enjoying the toast from Blue Ribbon – after all, if you consider it an evolutionary bacon, butter, and jelly sans one slice of bread, paying up to $11.50 for a slice seems outrageous (that’s for foie gras and honey, for what it’s worth – all the others are under $10 and hover mostly in the $4 or $7 range). Indeed, I’m kind of pissed at myself for continually going back and paying that much.
It’s as much of a food axiom as any, though, that if you’re going to overpay for something, it better be delicious, and on that count, Blue Ribbon does not disappoint. NY Metro correctly identifies the best bargain toast, which is the pepper/egg combination, with a variation on Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt sprinkled on top. However, I can confirm that the Hummus toast is similarly cost-effective (slightly more expensive, slightly heartier), and if you can stand to pay $3 for cinnamon toast, you’ll be treated the best version of this childhood treat you’ve ever had.
After all, it’s the bread that’s the real star here, and the Pullman loaf that makes the foundation of most of the sandwiches is the closest thing to my grandmother’s toasting bread I’ve ever encountered in the wild, and with a golden color that renders it also aesthetically pleasing. Sadly, no fresh raspberry jam toast is offered, but perhaps I can put them in touch with my grandmother. Speaking of fruit, as of this writing, fresh NY state Macintosh apples were available as well, in toast-topping form or in whole form, for 75 cents (well-spent, I might add).
It should also be noted that the service is beyond excellent. The same two guys have been in there during each of my visits, remembering both me and in some cases what I had last time I was there – an impressive feat, with variable time between visits. While I wouldn’t say that good service would excuse bad food in any case, the combination of good service and food is a winning formula every time.
So, yeah, maybe it’s not the best bargain, but you won’t find me complaining.