The Depot Blue Cheese Salad Dressing

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The Depot Restaurant’s creamy and tangy blue cheese salad dressing, a beloved specialty from a from a restaurant that once graced a historic train station in the village of Pittsford.

I discovered this recipe for the Depot’s Blue Cheese Salad Dressing in a vintage cookbook called Fan Fare, a lucky find in a local thrift store. Published in 1981 as a fundraising effort by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the book is a time capsule of recipes from local restaurants and musicians. Most of the restaurant recipes in this book, like the Depot, are no longer with us.

The Depot

The Depot’s story begins in the picturesque Village of Pittsford, New York, where it stood as a restaurant and a historical site. Originally a bustling train station serving 22 trains a day in the early 1900s, it was reinvented in 1962 by Edward Plenge III and Harvey Sibley. Their vision transformed the old Pittsford railroad station into the elegant Depot restaurant, an achievement recognized by the Urban Land Institute award for adaptive reuse.

NYC Auburn Railroad station in the 1940’s in Pittsford NY. Al Farnam collection

Not only a fine dining destination, the Depot and its sister location, ‘The Other Side Tracks,’ a bar across the train tracks, was a vibrant hub for jazz enthusiasts. Here, the renowned Gap Mangione, a jazz pianist and bandleader of extraordinary talent, often performed. Born in Rochester, Gap, alongside his brother Chuck Mangione, embarked on a musical journey that spanned several decades, leaving an indelible mark on the jazz world.

The Mangione brothers, celebrated for their solo works and collaborations, became synonymous with Rochester’s rich musical heritage. Their performances at the Depot were more than just entertainment; they infused the historic building with soulful jazz rhythms, adding another chapter to its storied past.

In its heyday, the Depot was the place for luxury and celebration, diners dressed in their finest to enjoy its famed Sunday Brunch, boasting over 100 exquisite dishes. Yet, despite its elegance and acclaim, the Depot encountered financial difficulties, leading to a Chapter 11 filing in July 1994. I couldn’t find much information of its ultimate fate or when the last dish was served, but we can savor a piece of its legacy through this recipe.

Ingredients for the Depot Blue Cheese Salad Dressing

This is an incredibly simple recipe, but the creamy base of mayonnaise, and the bold crumbles of blue cheese create a rich and flavorful dressing. Let’s take a look into the essentials that make this dressing a timeless classic.

  • Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise forms the creamy base of this dressing, offering a smooth texture and a rich flavor. If you’re looking for a healthier alternative, you can substitute it with a mix of Greek yogurt and mayonnaise.
  • Vinegar: Vinegar adds a bright, tangy note that balances the richness of the mayonnaise and blue cheese. White wine or apple cider vinegar can be used as alternatives for a slightly different flavor profile.
  • Lemon Juice: The lemon juice brings freshness and a zesty kick to the dressing. It’s best to use fresh lemon juice for the most vibrant flavor. Bottled lemon juice can work if you’re in a pinch.
  • Seasoned Salt: This adds depth and complexity to the flavor. If you don’t have seasoned salt, you can make your own by combining regular salt with a mix of spices like paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  • White Pepper: White pepper provides a subtle, earthy heat. It’s milder than black pepper and won’t disrupt the color of the dressing. If unavailable, black pepper works.
  • MSG: MSG enhances the umami flavor but is entirely optional. Some people are sensitive to MSG, so feel free to omit it, I did and still enjoyed the recipe.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: This adds a hint of complex, savory flavor. There’s really no perfect substitute.
  • Sugar: Sugar balances the acidity of the vinegar and lemon juice. If you prefer a less sweet dressing, you can reduce the amount or use a sugar substitute like honey.
  • Blue Cheese: Blue cheese is the star ingredient, providing a bold, tangy flavor. Choose a good quality blue cheese for the best results. Gorgonzola or Roquefort are excellent choices.
  • Bacon: Bacon adds a smoky, savory crunch. Ensure the bacon is crisply cooked for the best texture in the dressing.

Remember, the beauty of this blue cheese dressing lies in its simplicity and versatility; feel free to tweak the recipe and adjust the ingredients to suit your taste, ensuring every batch is uniquely yours.

The Depot’s Blue Cheese Dressing: Quick & Easy Steps

  1. Begin the Blend: In your favorite mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice, seasoned salt, white pepper, MSG (if using), Worcestershire sauce, and sugar. Whisk them together until you’ve got a smooth, inviting base.
  2. Cheese Please: Next, add the crumbled blue cheese to the party. Fold it gently into the mix, ensuring those flavorful chunks are throughly dispersed.
  3. Dress to Impress: Just before serving, drizzle this creamy delight over your salad. Top it off with a sprinkle of crispy, crumbled bacon for that final touch of savory perfection.
The Depot Restaurant Salad Dressing

The Depot Restaurant Salad Dressing

Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes

This recipe, from the now-closed Depot restaurant in Pittsford, New York, offers a creamy, tangy, and undeniably indulgent experience. Expertly balancing the robust flavors of high-quality blue cheese with the smoothness of mayonnaise and the salty bacon, this dressing transforms any ordinary salad into a gourmet dish..


  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 2 T. vinegar
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. MSG, optional
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. Sugar
  • 3 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled


  1. Mix mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, MSG if using, Worcestershire sauce, and suger until smooth.
  2. Fold in blue cheese.
  3. Just before serving, pour dressing on salad and top with bacon.


* I omitted MSG when I made this recipe, and thought it was great without it, so I have marked this ingredient as optional.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 184Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 326mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g

Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates. Please see my Nutrition Disclaimer for more information.

Memories of the Depot

While I personally don’t have any memories or stories to share about The Depot, during my research for this post I found a vintage menu from the restaurant itself. Remarkably, this menu mentions the exact blue cheese dressing recipe featured here in this post. I believe the menu is from the 70s, but I could not find an exact date.

I love the preserving local recipes online , but I don’t have much to add to the story of the Depot.

So, I’m hoping you will help out here. Did you ever dine at The Depot?

Do you have any stories or memories of dining there?

Perhaps you remember the ambiance, the people, or maybe you’ve had this blue cheese dressing during a special meal there. Whatever your story, I invite you to share it in the comments. Let’s keep the memories and spirit of The Depot alive.

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