- The Carver neighborhood's best food landmark is The Black Sheep, where personality and a full-service kitchen earn credentials and affection. Photo by Ash Daniel.
For breakfast, lunch and dinner, no place gets higher marks or more frequent visits from this group than the Black Sheep, the go-to choice for its distinctive character and affordability.
“When asked where to go in Richmond for dinner, my list always includes Black Sheep,” writes reviewer Robey Martin. “Nothing on the menu is above $16. The menu changes more than seasonally, keeping my interest and ensuring no food offering is stale. Item descriptions are creative, making them fun to read and understandable. Sides are large and easily sharable though I never want to share. Service is friendly and familiar. The setting is small and comfortable, tight but not cramped, mismatched and full but not cluttered.”
The personality of this business and the portions are as remarkable as the mix of patrons and the steady performance in a chain-choked neighborhood near Virginia Commonwealth University. Partners and owners Kevin Roberts and Amy Hess are moving into their fourth year in the cafe, building on a culinary lineage from Rhode Island and New Orleans to many of Richmond's best restaurants and the governor's mansion, and a recent televised rave from the Travel Channel. Chef Roberts is adept at keeping customers intrigued with his skillful twists on classics.
“Because they sneak in ingredients that are not commonplace on other Richmond menus,” Martin says, “it is a perfect place to try something new. Crispy sweet fried quail is served with savory waffles. A chicken liver and onion battleship makes improbable use of cabbage and Granny Smith apple. I give mad props to their rendition of an Indian samosa — they keep it real with use of sweet potato and tamarind. The red-flannel hash is as pretty as it is tasty and uses beets in an accessible way. Wheat berries give hardiness to chili in a sly arrangement of the classic huevos brunch.”
“Creativity shows itself again in their dessert menu,” Martin continues. “They re-create in the Black Sheep way such classics as haystacks, crunchy butterscotch-y goodness in a pile, and crA"me brA¯lAce, the tar pit, in chocolate with ‘drowning' animal crackers.”
“I love them,” agrees John Haddad, a frequent customer. “They're not sophisticated but they're solid, consistent, I like that they're doing three meals a day, they're playful, hip and the menu is always changing. They're always packed.” And that's a good indicator.