Paying a return visit to Rulloff’s, Collegetown’s legendary saloon

Rulloff’s Restaurant was named after the last man executed by public hanging in the State of New York. This week, the 14850 Dining Report pays another visit to the notorious murderer’s namesake saloon in Collegetown, which got a new lease on life last winter with new management and a new menu.

Rulloff's First Degree Burger, with cheddar and tomato jam. We added the caramelized onions.

Rulloff’s First Degree Burger, with cheddar and tomato jam. We added the caramelized onions.

Much of the menu shows a tongue-in-cheek nod to the source of their name. One example is the First Degree Burger, which of course I had to try on my first visit to the new Rulloff’s, to see how it compared to the burgers I’d remembered fondly from the Rulloff’s of years ago. A half-pound burger with New York State cheddar and a beautiful roasted tomato jam arrived juicy, with a crisp side salad as an alternative to the fries. At $12, it feels pricey, especially for lunch, but we admit it’s not unheard-of.

Other sandwich options are a white bean and quinoa burger, and a “Silence of the Lambs” lamb burger with pesto.

The dinner menu includes a hearty variation on Shepherd’s Pie, mashed potatoes served with braised shortrib and caramelized onions, baked in a large ramekin and dubbed “Executioner’s Pie.” Also on the dinner menu are grilled fish tacos, steak frites, and macaroni and cheese baked with pulled pork.

And the brunch menu features banana bread french toast with local maple syrup, biscuits and sausage gravy, a generous plate of crispy waffles, or an ever-changing omelet of the day, which includes meaty or vegetarian options.

On the lighter side are Rulloff’s salads, starting with a simple Caesar that adds dried roma tomatoes and a crisp parmesan crouton to the classic. We love the sound of the California Harvest salad, featuring spinach, grilled chicken, avocado, hard-boiled egg, and more. Add chicken, tofu, shrimp, or salmon to any of the salads for a hearty meal. Or try the soup du jour, $3 for a cup or $5 for a bowl, like the creative carrot-jalapeño soup we enjoyed on our second visit.

They’re serving a house blend from Copper Horse Coffee, a relatively new coffee roaster in nearby Brooktondale, and the beverage list also includes several great beers on tap and in bottles.

The bar at Rulloff's.

The bar at Rulloff’s.

The brass fixtures and the enormous mirrors behind the bar are gleaming, the restaurant’s dark wood looks great, and the wait staff are friendly, well-informed, and excited to be here. After a few years of a lesser eatery in this spot, so are we.

Plan on spending $15-35 for a meal. Find Rulloff’s Restaurant at 411 College Avenue or rulloffs.com, or call 607-277-1700 and tell them you heard about them here.

For more, follow 14850 Dining on Facebook and Twitter or sign up for our newsletter.