Words by DeeVa Payne
Photos by Nate Compton
Located in Richmond’s Carver district, the small corner restaurant known as the Black Sheep keeps the art of food alive. Eclectic in both atmosphere and décor, people flock to this hip restaurant for a hip experience and most importantly, delicious cuisine.
It is clear that Kevin Roberts, both owner and chef, created and recently revamped a restaurant using his passion for food to fuel the creativity behind his unique dishes.
Server of two years Alex, who did not feel comfortable giving her last name, explained that “each menu item has significance to him.”
The most eye catching section of the menu, a part that was featured on Food Network’s Man Vs. Food, is the sandwich menu. Every sandwich was named after a different battleship and the contents of that sandwich reflected a story that went along with it.
The menu even states “they aren’t subs, they’re battleships,” and rightly so for the sheer size of the sandwich is daunting to any hungry consumer. While I only witnessed half of one, simply imagining the other half even troubled the photographer, Nate Compton, who went along with me.
“I’m kind of scared just thinking about trying to consume the whole sandwich myself. I bet it could easily feed a family of four…or at least 2 very hungry men,” Compton said.
Compton ordered the SS Sultuna that is made up of “grilled spiced lamb and beef topped with chopped Romaine, cucumber, and green onions, Russian dressing, loaded into a toasted French baguette,” for $11 half size or $17 full sized.
On a plate the “SS Sultana” came garnished with a “knife for daring battle and a napkin to signify surrender.” The sub was vibrant in color with eye catching greens and reds and the creamy Russian dressing was oozing from between the lightly toasted baguette which gives you a real good crunch when you bite in.
Compton described the battleship as “real food. You can tell it wasn’t microwaved. This sandwich was made with care.”
Other than the subs, listed under “The War of Northern Ingestion” on the menu, the tiny restaurant also offers an array of breakfast, lunch, and dinner specials.
Wanting something light I ordered the “Spice Tradeoff,” one of the 2 salads the Black Sheep offers since the menu has been revamped.The salad features “granny smith apples, celery, clementines, avocado, green onion, pistachios and grapes tossed with a creamy garam masala dressing served over Romaine leaf.”
One word comes to mind when I think of this salad and that is texture. The salad is so complex in texture from the crispness from the apples to the crunch of the pistachios to the creaminess that brings it all together— the avocado.
For $7, the “Spice Tradeoff” is definitely something I would recommend to someone with an adventurous palate. The complexity of flavors and ingredients create for a unique experience, but it would not be something I would eat every time I go to the Black Sheep.
The Black Sheep’s menu is one of the most unique menus I have ever witnessed. The food is definitely southern with items such as “Gater Grillades” and “Peaches and Cream French Toast” on the breakfast menu.
All of the dinner specials are hand written “because they’re special” and feature flank steak, roasted duck, grilled swordfish and rainbow trout.
For those who are interested in the alcohol selection, the Back Sheep offers a variety of beers and wines from all over the globe. Other than having Star Hill IPA, a local Virginian beer, the restaurant also serves a Black Sheep Ale. The wine selection has not only a Viognier from White Hall Vineyards in Virginia, but also a Melbec from Argentina and a Gruner Veltliner from Austria.
Though we did not order it, the Nutella Swirl Pound Cake was the one dessert item that caught my attention. The cake is “Nutella swirled with a Frangelico pound cake with coffee ice cream and toasted hazelnuts.” This dessert alone is one of the reasons I plan to visit Black Sheep for a second time.
If the food doesn’t get you to visit Black Sheep alone, the restaurant’s atmosphere may do the trick for you.
Within its simplistic wooden design, the Black Sheep’s limited wall spaced is covered in art of all kinds. While waiting for your food, your eyes are constantly drawn to everything that surrounds you making it impossible to take in everything all in one sitting.
The tiny stereo system in one corner pumps tunes from the 50s and 60s while the storefront windows provide ample natural light to create a welcoming feeling that comforts guests of all kinds.
Service wise I found no real fault. Frankly, my server Alex did exactly what I needed her to do and nothing more. She was very knowledgeable about the menu and the history behind the restaurant and was friendly towards my table.
The Black Sheep, though a little pricey for the average college student, should be a restaurant you make space for in your budget. If you want to go to a place that is uniquely Richmond and adds a new twist to the RVA food scene I recommend the Black Sheep wholeheartedly. It is definitely a hip place to meet friends, grab a bite, and hang out.
The Black Sheep is located at 901 W. Marshall St and is open Sunday: 9a.m.- 8p.m., Monday: closed, Tuesday through Thursday: 9a.m.- 9p.m., Friday through Saturday: 9a.m.- 10p.m.