I wouldn’t expect to find an upscale steakhouse restaurant in a busy shopping plaza, but then again Black & Blue Steak and Crab is not your average steakhouse. Boasting a mix of sophisticated elegance and the charm of a neighborhood gathering place, it welcomes a range of visitors. On any given day, you might find business people lunching, families having dinner, friends meeting for drinks, or a couple rendezvousing for a romantic dinner. Located in Pittsford Plaza on Monroe Avenue in Rochester, New York, you’ll find Black & Blue Steak and Crab nestled among a variety of eateries. It is the only one, however, that offers two floors of dining, as well as valet parking for those who don’t want to navigate the bustling parking lot in this swanky area of town.
I have been to Black & Blue Steak and Crab four times since it opened in the summer of 2005, including this most recent visit for a weeknight dinner with a friend. Previous visits include a weekday business lunch for four, a weeknight business dinner with a large group of out-of-town clients, and a weekend dinner gathering of a few friends. With each visit, I explored a different part of the restaurant, from the upstairs seating area, to the bar, to the main floor dining area.
Upon entering the establishment, you can proceed either to the right (into the bar area) or to the left (to the hostess stand). The bar area is separated from the dining room by a large wall of wine bottles and a sleek bar with stools. It also includes several bar tables and a lounge area for patrons. The dining area is split into a main floor dining room with booths and tables, as well as an upstairs dining area, with an open view of the downstairs. A large stairway leading to the upstairs is the focal point of the dining area.
Decorated in neutral beiges, soft browns and tawny taupes, the atmosphere of the dining area is elegant, yet still warm and welcoming. In fact, there is almost a regal feel to the over-sized tables and sprawling, leather-upholstered wooden chairs. We noticed a dimming of the lights at 7pm, leading to a more intimate feel in the otherwise open dining room.
One look at the dinner menu told me that it had been updated since the last time I had visited. I noticed more specialties, as well as a new list of sauce accompaniments. The host/manager confirmed this during his stop at our table, mentioning that a few menu items had recently been added and/or revamped. I am glad that the folks at Black & Blue Steak and Crab are interested in keeping up with the desires of their local clientele.
The dinner menu started with Appetizers, and Soups and Salads. It also featured entre sections for Steaks and Chops and Steakhouse Specialties, which could be ordered with “Add Ons” of seafood selections, various Sauces, and Sides of several potato variations, vegetables or mac and cheese. Additional entre sections included Fish, Shellfish and House Specialties of ribs, chicken and roasted stuffed peppers. The Wine section offers both red and white wine by the glass, or patrons can order from the fully stocked bar.
The Dessert Menu was rather abbreviated, offering only a few options. However, each one was as decadent as the next.
We started our meal with a trio of sliced breads served in an attractive wooden bowl.
One of the breads was a crusty French-style baguette, another was a soft bread with olives baked into it and the third was a wheat bread with a darker crust. The butter served with the bread was whipped into a light and creamy spread.
Our server kindly provided a refill of the bread bowl once we devoured the contents of the first one. We declined an offer of a second refill.
Admittedly, It has been a long while since I ordered steak (or any red meat) in a restaurant. As the daughter of a butcher who owned a retail meat market, I’m quite sure that I had my lifetime share of red meat before my sixteenth birthday. Back then, our idea of dinner was a beef roast with a side of steak. I have since steered away from red meat, not as a rule, but more as a matter of taste.
After enjoying our bread and butter, we moved on to an order of the Crispy Fried Calamari appetizer. I fancy myself a bit of a calamari connoisseur. I like it deep-fried, sautéed, broiled, in tomato sauce, in salad, with sweet peppers, with salt and pepper…in fact, there isn’t any way that I don’t like calamari. This particular appetizer of Crispy Fried Calamari ($9.95) was prepared with watercress, cilantro, cashews, sweet and spicy ponzu (a citrus sauce), and sesame tempura crisps. It was served on a generously portioned bed of wilted greens. It included both the tubular body and the tentacles of the calamari. Yes!
This appetizer made me happy. The calamari was tender and juicy, with just enough bite to it. So often calamari is overcooked, causing it to be tough and chewy. I didn’t notice the cashews, as there weren’t a lot of them, but they were not integral to the dish. I did, however, notice the wilted greens, which I think were arugula because they were peppery and hearty. My dinner companion commented that there were enough greens in this appetizer to consider it to also be our salad, and I whole heartedly agreed!
For our entrees, we both ordered steaks, which included our choice of a side and also a choice of a sauce. I indulged in the 12 .oz New York Strip Steak ($32.95), with a side of garlic mashed potatoes ($6.50 if ordered separately). The black Angus New York Strip Steak was seasoned with Black & Blue’s signature house rub and cooked to medium-well, per my request. Served with a sprig of fresh rosemary, in a cast iron, oval-shaped dish, it was sizzling hot and smelled delicious. The house rub was peppery and a bit exotic, forming a nice crust on the outside of the cut. The inside, however, was perfectly light pink from end to end, and oh so tender. I was quickly reminded of the joys of savoring a perfectly cooked steak.
It took me a few tastes to warm up to the Red Wine Demiglaze, as I found it to be sweeter than expected. However, after reconsidering, I decided that I did indeed like it paired with my steak as a dipping sauce, and with my mashed potatoes as a sweet gravy. I was glad that I ordered it on the side, as opposed to topping the steak. As such, I was able to taste the house steak rub on its own, separate from the demiglaze.
Like the steak, the garlic mashed potatoes were served in a cast iron side dish, piping hot. They lived up to their name, with plenty of garlic, as well as sliced red onions and a garnish of slivered chives.
They were more of a rustic dish, as opposed to perfectly smooth mashed potatoes. I prefer the rougher mash, as it pairs nicely with a substantial steak. The portion was large. so we shared our sides dishes of spinach and potatoes.
My dinner companion ordered an 8 oz. Filet Mignon ($33.95), with a side of creamy spinach ($6.50 if ordered separately). In addition, she sipped a glass of Snapdragon Riesling wine ($6.95).
Her filet was also served with a sprig of fresh rosemary and a dollop of black truffle butter, in the same type of oval, cast iron dish that I received. She said that it was tender and tasty, and she enjoyed it quite a bit.
Her side of creamy spinach was an excellent choice. Since we shared our side dishes, I had the opportunity to taste the spinach as well. I liked that the it was tender, but not over cooked – it still had a nice texture to it. Also, there was just enough of a cream sauce to cloak it nicely, without drowning it.
The spinach sizzled when I portioned some of it onto my own hot dish This gave it a bit of an extra sear, which really enhanced the texture.
We perused the dessert menu, but we were too full to indulge in a decadent dessert. To our delight though, our bill was served with two complementary chocolate truffles. They were fabulous; just enough to end this savory meal on a sweet note.
Because we arrived at Black & Blue Steak and Crab for a rather early dinner (5:30 pm) on a weeknight, it wasn’t at all crowded. As a result, we were showered with attention from the hostess, our server, the manager, and pretty much any other employee in the restaurant. I was seated without delay and as I waited for my dining companion, the attendant was sure to fill our water glasses and remove the two unneeded place settings in short order.
Our server was friendly and attentive. He told us of the day’s specials, took our drink orders and quickly returned with our bowl of bread and butter. He easily answered our questions about a few menu items and then took our orders. Our appetizer arrived in good time, followed not too much later by our entres and side dishes. Unfortunately, my dinner companion did not receive her glass of wine until we were close to finished with our crispy calamari appetizer. It was, however, delivered with a sincere apology for the delay.
I was impressed with the finesse of the employee who cleared our table, complete with a dusting of the table to remove the stray crumbs. One issue that concerned me, though, was positioning of the servers. They were lined up along the back wall of the restaurant, in position to spring over to their tables if needed. However, this line of employees felt a bit like a group of lurkers watching us eat our dinner. It was unnerving and it made me very uncomfortable. If you have the same disdain for being watched while you eat, I suggest sitting at a table in the main dining room facing away from the line of eager servers. They meant well, but it was distracting.
I liked it and I will go back, with the noted change to my seating position. Dinner at Black & Blue Steak and Crab was pricier than my usual dinner outings, but well worth it. I would suggest it for a special celebration, a business lunch or dinner for out-of-town guests, or a romantic date night. It is one of the few elegant restaurants in the area where you can get a perfectly prepared steak AND great seafood – a rare surf and turf duo that excels in both realms. Chef Phil Adams has done a great job creating a menu with something for everyone.
If You Go:
Black & Blue Steak and Crab
3349 Monroe Ave
Rochester, NY 14618
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Business Hours: lunch: M-F 11:30 -2:30, dinner: M-Th 4:30-10:00, Fri-Sat 4:30-11:00, Sun 4:00-9:00
Cuisine: Modern American Steakhouse and Seafood
Meals Served: Lunch, Dinner
Children’s Menu: No
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Attire: Business Casual to Semi-formal
Requires Reservations: No
Table Service: Yes
Take Out: Yes
Outdoor Seating: Weather Permitting
Parking: Free and plentiful in private lot
Valet Service: Yes
Bar Seating: Yes
Coat Check: No
Date opened: August 1, 2005
Date visited: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 (dinner)