The folks who own Black & Blue Steak and Crab in Pittsford Plaza seem to have found a magic formula for successful eateries. In addition to Black & Blue locations in Rochester and Buffalo, the organization Two for Seven also owns Jojo, TRATA and The Village Bakery, and all seem to be hugely popular.
So when we made our reservation the day before our Saturday visit, I wasn't surprised that the earliest time available was 8:30 p.m. Nor was I taken aback, though not thrilled, to be told that they were running behind when we arrived.
Whereas the related establishments have an industrial rustic air, the atmosphere at Black & Blue is refined and chic. The impressive interior is two stories high, the second floor open to the rest of the space. The color palette is sophisticated neutrals, with interesting decorative accents, such as back-lit sculptural silver fish that line a wall above curved banquettes.
Once chairs opened up at the circular bar, we settled in for a drink. A towering glass wine cellar separates the bar from the dining area; we watched a bartender walk a catwalk to retrieve a bottle.
After a half-hour we were seated at a table on the lower level. It was busy and lively; the noise level was high but did not overwhelm conversation.
Our server, who proved to be friendly, efficient and knowledgeable, quickly brought a wooden bowl of bread from Black & Blue's sister establishment, the Village Bakery. The warm and crusty bread was sliced thickly and served with a ramekin of soft butter.
Our shared appetizer was Kobe meatballs ($10.95), and they were unlike any meatballs we had eaten before. Rather than all ground beef, these also contained shredded short rib meat, and only egg was used to bind the meat. As a result, they were über tender, über juicy, über meaty. Served on skewers, lollipop-style, they were cloaked in a thick, somewhat sweet roasted garlic cream sauce infused with caramelized onions.
Since the restaurant opened in 2005, Black & Blue has tweaked the menu, adding fresh fish and composed steak dishes — a protein and sides and sauces chosen to complement each other. (In the past, customers would be on their own in picking sides and sauces to go with their steaks.) We took advantage of both.
Steak garlic ($36.95), true to its name, had a pronounced flavor from an abundance of roasted garlic. It complemented the flavor of the nicely cooked New York strip steak without overwhelming it. A deep-fried croquette filled with potato, bits of chorizo and oozing pepper jack cheese was a stellar accompaniment. Also on the side: a generous portion of button mushrooms sautéed in butter.
Black grouper ($29.95) was beautifully presented, and tasted as good as it looked. The thick filet was seared to a perfect golden brown; the fish had a firm texture and came apart in big flakes. It was served with meltingly tender cipollini onions and artichoke hearts, briny Kalamata olives and blistered cherry tomatoes that popped in our mouths. A sharp, bright green scallion pesto and acidic black garlic vinaigrette brought all the flavors together.
For dessert, we split peanut butter Oreo mousse ($8.50). Layers of thick, creamy peanut butter mousse were separated by crushed Oreo cookies. Chopped peanut butter cups and a dollop of whipped cream topped off the divine but rich confection. One order was plenty for the two of us to share.
Two complimentary chocolate truffles, which were pure chocolate bliss, were presented with the check.
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