Restaurant Review: Bar Louie (Rochester, NY)

Restaurant: Bar Louie in Rochester, NY
Restaurant: Bar Louie in Rochester, NY, Courtesy:

The newly opened Bar Louie in Greece, New York is nestled in the recently renovated northeast corner of the Mall at Greece Ridge Center. It is the second area location for the Texas-based franchise, with the other area destination in Buffalo, New York’s Walden Galleria mall. As I parked in the lot shared by other mall establishments, I noticed the new cobblestone cross walks and the well-lit surroundings. However, I found it odd that the restaurant did not have an entrance from inside the mall – patrons can only enter directly from an exterior mall entrance. I wonder if this might deter patronage by some spur of the moment mall shoppers looking for a convenient bit to eat.

Upon entering the restaurant, I first noticed the woefully lacking waiting area. Standing behind only two other waiting couples, I was backed up against the door. With 6,514 square feet of available space, I would have expected a little more room to wait to be seated. Luckily, my dining companion had arrived a few minutes earlier to get a table on this busy Saturday night. The hostess quickly located me and pleasantly and efficiently ushered me to our awaiting table.

As I made my way through the crowded dining area, I noticed that the layout and seating had a sleek, modern feel, with a mix of high bar tables with stools, booths, and dinner tables. The central bar is most definitely the focal point, and allowed for seated drink service as well as standing room for mingling. A small gathering area with upholstered lounge chairs was awkwardly located by the restrooms at the back of the dining room. This proved to be a distraction throughout the night, because it happened to be adjacent to our table.

The walls were adorned with nightlife photography and tile artwork. The ambiance also included several flat-screen televisions, adding to the rising noise level as the restaurant filled with families and groups alike, making it difficult to carry on an easy dinner conversation. The outdoor patio (closed for the winter season) boasted a wrap-around bar and a heated seating area – sure to be a popular destination in the warmer months! Bar Louie describes their employees as an “eclectic group of team members, managers and support staff”, which proved to be accurately represented by the wait staff dressed in black tank tops, many proudly displaying their inked upper limbs.

I found the Bar Louie dinner menu to be more varied, and slightly more sophisticated, than the average sports bar or bar and grill menu. Highlighted menu offerings included “Small Plates” (think appetizers), “Large Plates” (think entrees), Flatbreads, Salads, Burgers and Sandwiches. The waitress informed us that the Luigi Sandwich (shaved rib eye) is a popular choice. A kids menu offers age appropriate options and portion sizes for kids 10 and under. If you are looking for a dining value, consider the happy hour specials which include discounted drinks, appetizers and flatbreads, from 4-7pm Monday-Friday.

Known for their libations, Bar Louie features over thirty signature martinis, a variety of mojitos and margaritas, an extensive selection of imported beers and over twenty wines by the glass. Non-alcoholic beverage options include Coke products.

For my dinner selection, I ordered the Drunken Fish-n-Chips, accompanied by seasoned fries, tartar sauce and a lemon wedge ($13). To round out my seafood theme, I also ordered Crispy Calamari with cocktail sauce ($10.50).

The fish entrée was served hot, and included two slightly smaller than sandwich-sized pieces of tempura battered, fried cod. Although the batter was rich and a bit heavily applied, the cod was flaky, moist and tasty. I was disappointed that the accompanying fries reminded me of the frozen string variety. Based on the name of the dish (Fish-n-Chips), I expected something more like hearty “steak fries” or potato wedges.

The hand-battered crispy calamari arrived in a fun and interesting spring-shaped, cone-like vessel, reminiscent of an over sized martini glass silhouette. It was lined with a paper similar to that used in a take-out meal. The paper served its purpose well, soaking up the extraneous grease clinging to the calamari. The calamari was tender and well-seasoned, and included both the ring/tube-shaped pieces as well as the tentacles, which I don’t mind at all. Unfortunately, though, it was prepared with the same tempura batter as the cod (confirmed by the server). As such, the rich tempura batter double-play was a little off-putting to my palate.

My dining companion ordered Boneless Chicken Wings served with bleu cheese dipping sauce and celery ($10). She also requested two sides of other sauces: Buffalo sauce and BBQ sauce, both offered at no additional charge. The order included ten boneless chicken wings, which she reported as being hot (temperature), meaty, tender and moist. However, the bleu cheese dipping sauce was a bit soupy for her taste and the celery sticks appeared to be less than fresh and were too few in number. Of the two additional sauces, she really enjoyed the spunky buffalo sauce as compared to the mild BBQ sauce.

We were pleased with the fast and friendly service throughout the entire visit. I was greeted promptly by the hostess and shown to my table, where my dining companion was already seated. Our server was knowledgeable about the history of the eatery, telling us about the other area location in the Walden Galleria mall. When asked about details of a few menu options, she happily answered our queries and sought out the answers when needed. Our water glasses were proactively refilled and we were cheerfully brought extra napkins after the server checked on our experience. Our request for separate checks was graciously granted as well.

Overall Impression
Overall, my dining companion and I enjoyed most of our meals, as well as the efficient and courteous service at Bar Louie. I would seek out this restaurant again if I specifically wanted a colorful and energetic evening out, including casual (but not inexpensive) tapas with friends. I would not consider it a “special occasion” destination or a quiet or fancy dinner out, but rather a trendy and modern mall bar, where you can also get a decent bite to eat.

If you go:
Bar Louie
98 Greece Ridge Center Drive
Rochester, NY 14626
Phone: 585-797-1054
Twitter:     @BarLouie

Business Hours: Daily Sun-Sat 11 am – 2 am
Cuisine: Sports Bar and Grill, American Cuisine
Meals Served: Lunch, Dinner & Late Night Dining
Children’s Menu:        Yes
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Handicap Accessible:  Yes
Attire:                       Casual
Requires Reservations: No
Table Service:           Yes
Take Out:                 Yes
Outdoor Seating:       Yes, seasonal
Parking:                    free and plentiful in the adjacent mall parking lot
Valet Service:            No
Bar Seating:              Yes
Alcohol:                    Full Bar
Coat Check:              No
Date opened:            10-4-2013
Date visited:             12-28-2013 evening



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