It doesn’t seem like that long ago that 605 reviewed Will’s Training Table.
It also doesn’t seem like that long ago that it was Beef O’Brady’s.
But here we are, with the Sanford Health-owned restaurant rebranding and expanding as Blue Rock Bar & Grill.
As 605 multimedia designer Yany Avelar and I pulled up on the day of the flooding in Sioux Falls on March 14 (luckily we didn’t get stuck in any water), we weren’t sure what to expect. Director of food and beverage Julie Coleman greeted us and started to take us on a quick tour.
The now-12,000-square-foot building has grown to two floors, and has four unique dining experiences. As it states on a brochure, the different options are meant to offer experiences for a pre-game meal, a date night, a lunch meeting, and/or happy hour.
I would say the room that has the least amount of change was the “Sports Bar” section of Blue Rock, which looked the same from Will’s. One big (and smart) change, though, was taking the patio and adding garage doors so it can be used in the warm and cold weather.
There are side rooms you can rent for hosting clients and/or special occasions, which Coleman says fill up quickly.
The “Upper Deck” was a surprise and was very impressive upstairs. It was a dining room with a modern bar, and had more garage doors that can open up to a large deck for patio drinks o’plenty. There were also archived photos from South Dakota used as wall decals, including a large image of the University of South Dakota at South Dakota State University playing football in 1950.
“We’re hoping to host events up here eventually, like wine dinners,” said Coleman.
Where our tour stopped—and what is the main dining room—was “The Lodge.” This was like a whole new restaurant from Will’s, with gorgeous antler chandeliers, a framed vintage South Dakota pennant flag, and an epic taxidermy bear that welcomes patrons near the entrance.
We took a seat and soon began to see that the restaurant loves their theme: Blue. Blue-rimmed glasses came out with an assortment of blue cocktails. They’re known for a solid Bloody Mary, so that was brought out as well. As I’m with child, Yany had to (had to) sip on all of the beverages.
“I would come back just for this,” said Yany with a shoulder dance.
Then the food came out. All of the food.
First up was the meat tray… I mean, the Blue Rock Sampler. This massive meat sampler platter comes with candied bacon, fried Brussels sprouts, pork burnt ends, pretzel bites, char-buffed wings, pepperoni chips, and Korean-style St. Louis ribs, and is served with provolone cheese dip.
No kidding, we could have just eaten that and have been done. It’s perfect for a group and for filling up before a game or for drinks with friends.
I went right for the Crispy Pepperoni Chips, which is what Coleman says they’re known for. These sliced pepperonis are fried “to a crunchy crisp.” If I had a bag of these, I would be doomed. It’s like taking the best part of picking toppings off of a pizza, and then making them delicious and crispy.
Next, I grabbed one of the Salted Pretzel Bites. The soft, warm pretzel bites were served with provolone cheese dip, which we were obsessed with. We both were guilty of grabbing “one more” before we moved on.
The Pork Burnt Ends were there and were “flavorful pieces of dry rubbed pork shoulder fried, then tossed in BBQ sauce.” The smothered BBQ sauce was a little much for us, and I think there were so many other amazing things available, we skimmed past it after a bite.
In the middle was a tin, or the Bacontini. This is the house-made sweet and spicy candied bacon that—when served alone— comes in a martini glass. At first I wanted it to be crispier than it was, but once I grabbed a piece, it was like bacon that just came from your breakfast plate with just the right amount of syrup.
The St. Louis Pork Ribs were hanging out from the side, and were BBQ pork ribs that I grabbed and ate with a fork and knife (I know, I’m that person). They were just the right amount of smoky and weren’t smothered with sauce, which was nice.
There were also Brussels Sprouts, which were drizzled with balsamic reduction. They were good, but I wish they had a little more balsamic.
Last was the Char-Buffed Wings— traditional wings tossed in choice of sauce (we had Buffalo) and charred on the grill. I like wings, but I get overwhelmed by them unless they’re boneless. I loved these. I ate half of them before Yany even touched them. They were charred just right, and I could have had just a plate of those. They were just spicy enough where I felt it in my gums.
Yany took a bite, and so many things happened at once.
“Ooh, these are good,” she said.
Less than five seconds later, she started losing it and coughed. “I was not expecting that heat.”
Maybe I’m becoming less of a weakling when it comes to spice!
“I like that this is an appetizer sampler full of really solid stuff, not like a couple good things and artichoke dip like other restaurants,” said Yany.
Now to entrées. First we tried the Candied Bacon Burger. This is their signature burger patty with their house-made candied bacon, smoked cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and their house spread.
Imagine the sweet bacon I spoke of earlier on top of smoky and salty with some BBQ.
The Blue Rock Pizza came out and is their signature pizza with an alfredo sauce base, topped with South Dakota pheasant sausage, shoulder bacon, fontina cheese, heirloom tomatoes, and a balsamic glaze.
I’m embarrassed as a born and raised South Dakotan to admit I’ve never had pheasant. This was a good time to do it, and the large pieces were so savory. The ham was sweet and was even better when you mixed the meats together.
The Buffalo Ribeye was last, and was an eight-ounce buffalo ribeye served with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. We added the Winemaker salts to our meat and Yany picked the blue (more blue!) steak knife when the box (see side bar) was brought over to us.
Wow, the salt did enhance the experience, and the garlic butter in the middle was everything. The chef came out to check on us and mentioned there was some cheese in the mashed potatoes.
“I don’t usually like cheese in my potatoes, but this is really nice and subtle,” said Yany.
CUSTOMIZE YOUR STEAK
WITH THE GROWING POPULARITY OF “THE EXPERIENCE,” PATRONS WHO ORDER STEAK OR RIBS WILL BE BROUGHT UNIQUE STEAK KNIVES TO CHOOSE FROM AND A BOX WITH AN ARRAY OF RUBS, LIKE SMOKED PAPRIKA, WINE MAKER, MEDITERRANEAN, AND HIMALAYAN.
We thought we were done, but no. The Wild Blueberry Flapjack Cake arrived. This was stacked layers of thick, buttery cake and maple cream, baked with wild Maine blueberries.
What it doesn’t say is that the chef created what he calls blueberry caviar. I repeat: blueberry caviar.
It went from one minute thinking we were full to digging in to the cake, which had a surprise layer of cinnamon inside. Honestly, I don’t even know how much cake Yany ate, because she just started eating the pieces of blueberry by itself.
“I wasn’t expecting them to melt in your mouth,” she said, staring at her spoonful of them. “I’d like a jar of this to go, please.”
Last, but not least, was the Chocolate Molten Lava Cake with a “Blue Rock Flame,” served with vanilla ice cream.
This is their showpiece, where they heat it up via fire tableside with a blue flame. The chocolate ganache inside of molten cake made my day. Take a bite of ice cream with it, dip it in the nutmeg on the plate, and you’re good to go.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT BLUEROCKBARANDGRILL.COM.
I’m still full. For real, though, this is a whole new place, and I would make the drive out to the Sanford Pentagon to eat there with friends or for a date night. And I will be there at patio season. You better believe that.
4021 BOBHALLA DR., SIOUX FALLS // (605) 271-2500
› PRETZEL CRUSTED CHEESE CURDS
White cheddar cheese curds with pretzel breading.
› WALLEYE FINGERS
Hand-breaded walleye served with spicy coleslaw.
WRAPS & SANDWICHES
› CHEESEBURGER WRAP
Their signature burger patty with lettuce, shredded parmesan, bleu cheese crumbles, and crunchy croutons topped with Caesar dressing and buffalo sauce, wrapped in a flour tortilla.
› PHILLY CHEESESTEAK PANINI
Thinly sliced sirloin cooked with peppers, onions, and mushrooms, smothered with melted provolone cheese, served with chipotle mayo.
› BLUE ROCK BURGER
Their namesake burger is rich in flavor with grilled mushrooms, crispy onion straws, lettuce, tomatoes, gruyere cheese, and their house spread.
› FARMHOUSE BURGER
A “powerhouse” of a burger topped with a fried egg, applewood and shoulder bacon, crispy onion straws, American cheese, and fresh lettuce.
PIZZAS & FLATBREADS
› BUFFALO CHICKEN
Grilled chicken breast, celery, tomatoes, mozzarella, and bleu cheese crumbles over buffalo sauce, drizzled in creamy ranch.
Heaped with ground beef, dill pickles, fresh onions, and tomatoes, topped with shredded cheddar.
› BUFFALO BURGER
South Dakota-raised buffalo with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cheddar cheese served with fries.
› DUCK BREAST
Seared duck breast served with spicy plum sauce over an ancient quinoa blend and seasonal vegetable.
› CHOCOLATE CHIP SHAREABLE SKILLET
Freshly baked chocolate chip cookie in a cast iron skillet served warm with vanilla ice cream drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce.
How cool is it to have different rooms with different vibes? Coleman mentioned that one couple started their night at the sports bar, had an appetizer upstairs, and ended with dinner in The Lodge.
Though it’s very new, the staff was very committed and excited about the new venture. We had plates and plates and plates of food, and the chef was kind enough to come out to explain dishes and to check on us.
Both the chef and Coleman mentioned that they take dishes they’ve had in other cities and countries, bring the ideas back to the kitchen, and make them their own. It definitely shows, especially with the Wild Blueberry Flapjack Cake. Note: Eat dessert first.
Rating Scale: Ambiance ++++ | Service ***** | Taste ++++
It's the Facts
- OPEN MONDAY THROUGH THURSDAY 11 A.M. – 10 P.M., FRIDAY AND SATURDAY 11 A.M. – MIDNIGHT, AND SUNDAY 11 A.M. – 5 P.M.
- TRY THE TRIO QUICK LUNCH MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY, WHERE YOU GET A CUP OF SOUP, HALF A SANDWICH, AND A HOUSE SIDE SALAD FOR $8.
- SUNDAYS HAVE $7 “ENDLESS MIMOSAS” AND AN $8 BLOODY MARY BAR.