Blu Wolf Bistro
By Nicole Shein
You can hardly travel a block on Park Avenue without encountering a trendy cafe (CiBon, Roam), a restaurant offering extensive American fare (Jine’s, the Frog Pond), or a speciality cuisine (Furoshiki, Dorado, Esan, Cheese Masters). And of course there are bars aplenty (Half Pint, Magpie, Dragonfly). What’s been missing from the Park Ave scene, until recently, was a gastro-pub that offers upscale food, a wide selection of high-end beers, and a classy yet casual atmosphere that’s equally appropriate at lunchtime and late night.
Enter Blu Wolf Bistro. Occupying the prime location that used to be Colie’s Cafe, on the corner of Park and Berkeley, this new venture is just different enough to stand out in a sea of established venues, without overwhelming the neighborly feel that regularly brings locals and out-of-towners to this ever-popular area of Rochester.
In the months after its opening, Blu Wolf has gained a reputation as the place to go for inventive or classic burgers -- a friend of mine recently posted on his Facebook page that he’d found Jesus in a cheeseburger at Blu Wolf -- as well as french fries and milkshakes. Their burger meat is specially ground by Palmer’s, and is a mixture of short rib and prime rib. Although I was disappointed during my recent visit that I didn’t have the opportunity to taste these transcendental burgers, I did get to try a riff on them, the bistro’s Wolf Bites. For these, Chef Kevin Champion takes bacon-cheeseburger mix, forms it into two- or three-bite balls, wraps them in puff pastry, and fries them. They’re served with a secret, slightly spicy Wolf sauce, and might make a nice starter to share for those who don’t want to commit to the entire meat-laden experience of a burger.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Burger Challenge -- the kind of thing you’d see on Man Vs. Food, a TV program that Blu Wolf hopes to attract with their $35 dare to carnivores. It’s simple, really: just eat a pound of fries, drink a milkshake, and eat a sandwich comprised of 4 eight-ounce hamburgers, one macaroni-and-cheese patty, 3 strips of bacon and all the trimmings. Even non-finishers can feel good about their attempt, as a portion of the proceeds are donated to charity.
Other fun burger options include the Dr. Seuss (pesto, fried egg and ham), the Irish Nacho (fries, bacon, cheese) and the Bloody Mary. Blu Wolf is also experimenting with game burgers, including ostrich and boar, for the adventurous palates.
Don’t eat red meat? Not a problem. There are several non-beef sandwiches on the menu, as well as soups and six distinct salads. During my tasting, I was served the Blu Harvest variety, wherein grilled chicken tops a seemingly ubiquitous combination of field greens, fruit (apples, in this case), candied nuts and blue cheese. Out of the several dishes I tasted, however, the standout was a grilled salmon filet-- perfectly cooked to flake underneath my fork, then topped with a lovely dill compound butter.
Milkshakes are another signature item at Blu Wolf, and I would’ve loved to taste either the caramel pretzel or maple bacon flavors. There’s also a mint Oreo flavor, as well as old friends chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.
Brunch at Blu Wolf, served on Saturdays and Sundays, is a mix of the expected (omelettes, pancakes, egg combos) and the imaginative (Donut Burger, anyone? or how about The Hangover -- mac-n-cheese, sausage, sausage gravy, bacon and eggs, served over home fries?), including several tempting varieties of Eggs Benedict.
Naturally, you’ll want a beverage to imbibe with your burger, Benedict, salad or chicken wings. Blu Wolf obliges with dozens of beers on tap, an impressive wine selection, and several wine-based cocktails (there’s no hard liquor served, for now).
657 Park Avenue
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