The latest in the Blue Ribbon restaurant empire, Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken, was slated to open in the East Village on Monday, but the day came and went and our lust for fried fowl went unsated. Though repeated prodding of the restaurant's publicist yielded the maddeningly ambiguous "soon," it looks like last night they took the friers for a test run. Photographer and food adventurer Scott Lynch happened to Citi Bike his way into some delicious—and free—fried chicken. His tale:

I rode by Blue Ribbon and... YES! OPEN! The place was crowded but not crazy-packed, the line to order (it's a counter service spot) was only about 25 people, so I figured why not. 

Here comes the best part. I got a two-piece, dark meat dinner platter; a bacon-cheddar chicken burger, called The Pit; and some fried chicken liver with fried onions. But when I go to pay, the manager at the register says, "Nope, it's on us." And not because I'm special; everyone all night, from 6:00 until 10:00, got anything they wanted on the menu, to eat in or take out, for free. No prior announcement, no hype, just handing out free food for four hours. We were their "guinea pigs", one of the Brombergs told me, to test out the operation.

Lynch calls out the chicken burger as a "sleeper hit" and says he'll "definitely go back and gladly pay." If the chicken is anything as delicious as the version sold at Brooklyn Bowl—and we have every indication that it will be—get ready for some intensely-flavored, extra juicy birds just beckoning to be drizzled with lots of honey.

There's still no "official" opening date on the books, though last night's soft opening would indicate that the restaurant is almost ready to go. When the time comes they'll open daily at 11 a.m. and fry fry fry until 2 a.m. Here's a look at the menu, which offers fried chicken dinners, as well as individual pieces, plus the special grilled chicken burgers, sides and salads. They're also offering wine and canned beer, sodas and homemade ice creams.

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(Scott Lynch/Gothamist)

28 East 1st Street, (212) 228-0404; blueribbonfriedchicken.com