Black Sheep Bistro, Vergennes VT -- Review
We spent a week up in Vermont in a cabin on the shore of Lake Champlain. We were about 10 minutes away from Vergennes, the closest town, so we decided to have dinner at Black Sheep Bistro based on several good reviews here. (note: we had also hoped to have dinner at Christoph's, however, it has closed!)
Well, we enjoyed our dinner at BSB so much that we went back 2 more times during the week. It was so convenient, so reasonably priced, and so yummy, that we felt no need to drive further for dinner. Okay, probably we should have gone down to Middlebury for a meal, but we get lazy!
I really like the way they organize the menu. Its fairly small, but well selected. All apps are $7, all entrees $19, all desserts $7. Wines are $20, $25, $30 and $35. The most we spent for 2 was $150, and that was a very full meal indeed.
Our favorite apps: summer rolls made of shredded jicama and apple wrapped in rice paper, and seasoned with some vinegar served with a dipping sauce. Also venison cigar rolls with a dijon demiglace dipping sauce were a sort of venison sausage wrapped up in an eggroll wrapper and fried crunchy. They also made an curried asparagus bisque that was quite light and flavorful. I thought it would be too rich for a hot night, but it was wonderful.
My favorite entree was the chicken breast stuffed with brie and bacon, served with a balsamic sauce. The coffee rubbed lamb loin was also very good, as was the coriander crusted hanger steak.
Rather than making a particular potato side with each entree, the restaurant serves a family style portion of garlic mashed potatoes AND a cone of shoestring fries. The fries come with 3 dipping sauces: ketchup, garlic mayo and basil mayo. I was psyched to not have to choose! But if I had, the fries with the basil mayo were awesome.
The desserts may have been the weakest part of the menu. they were good, but really didn't stand out. The home made raspberry sorbet was really good. The blueberry peach tart was a little dry, and light on peaches, and the ricotta cheese cake with the brulee topping was just okay. We proably should have ordered the strawberries with ice cream, balsamic sauce and black pepper, but I'm just not a big fan of that trendy combination. it seemed very popular. However, the brownie sundae with the caramel sauce and toasted almonds was awfully good.
The restaurant is small, the ambiance casual. We liked eating outside on the sidewalk, but at dark the bugs came out, so only do this if you are going relatively early. Service was mostly good, or at least unremarkable. it was best the last day...I think after going 3 times in one week they may have suspected we were restaurant reviewers or something!
All in all, I think Black Sheep Bistro is highly recommended if you are in this part of Vermont.
My wife and I have eaten there once, and we enjoyed it and the simple menu. But we've never been able to justify the tedious drive from Burlington to Vergennes to go back a second time. Black Sheep is pleasant and fun, and I envy the locals who can access it easily.
OTOH, we would make pilgramages a couple times a year to Christophe's, which was our favorite restaurant in Vermont...and we are very sad they closed.
I can certainly understand not wanting to make the long drive from Burlington. after all, we didn't want to make the long drive INTO Burlington, though I knew there were some fine dinner options there.
But if you are in the local area, it definitely can't be beat. Especially for value. I live in the western burbs of MA (out near 495), and in terms of style, BSB compares with places like Sel de La Terre Natick, or Chloe Bistro in Hudson. I thought the food was better than either of those, and the cost was slightly less. I wish we had a place as good out here.
We will have to try The Black Sheep. We used to reserve trips to Vergennes to go to Christophe's but that is no longer an option. Having been to Chloe's in Hudson, MA (my wife is from Stow so we visit often) that is a good reference point. If you have been, how does it compare to Romaine's (Northboro I think) ????
I actually liked Black Sheep a little better than Romaines. I'm not sure I would have said that a 6 months or so ago, but in the last 2 visits it seems to me like Romaine's has really scaled down their menu (not sure when, perhaps in the last year or so?) and its just not as good or as interesting as it used to be. I had a good steak there the last time, but the hanger steak at BSB was better.
I was really disappointed not to get to try Christophes, I'd heard such good things about it. There is still a bar upstairs, called "Bar Antidote" that makes very good cocktails, and was a fine place to catch some of a Red Sox game.
I really think that the Black Sheep is one of the best value meals in the Champlain Valley. I've eaten there several times and always enjoyed my meal. Your comment on the desserts is interesting. It's never really something I've noticed but looking back I have to say that I agree; I've never been as impressed with the desserts as I've been with my appetizer and entree. Still a fantastic meal, though, and you can't beat the price for the quality you get.
My wife and I ate at Black Sheep Bistro last August and also thought it both very, very good and reasonable. We liked the fries and the aoli and thought the service both frieindly and professional.
As summer vacationers we only get to sample a few places each year. Earlier this summer we visited the Bearded Frog, owned by the same chef who owns Black Sheep. Had the same fries and again all the food was unifromily good. Posted to that effect and "Signsof the times" responded.
In deference to "Sign" and "TonyO", here are our past and recent discoveries.
Mary on Baldwin's Creek may be our favorite. We have been there @ four times, once hosting a conference there. The rack of lamb was as good as any I have tried. It is a long drive however.
In Burlington we think Trattoria Delia is one of the finest Italian restaurants we have had the pleasure to dine at.
This summer we have been captured by two local casual spots; Buono's on Shelbourne Rd in South Burlington and Sadie Katz, the new Deli on Bank. Each is a perfect example of fulfilling the potential for a niche dining spot: Buono's- a family Italian restaurant and Katz'- a NY stle Jewish deli.
Their Corned Beef Rueben is the Platonic form of Ruebens. The Pastas at Buono.. we had the pesto and the alfredo sauces over linguini and ravioli respectively were excellent.
Buono's raviolois are better than most all raviolis I get in Philly, supposedly a home to original Italian cooking.
We also enjoyed our lunch at Luenings. I thought their crab cake lunch was perfect.
Finally, we enjoyed the Lake House on Shelbourne Rd owned by the chef from Starry Night Cafe. It is noisy and has lots of summer vacationers with kids from the nearby motels, but the food is a major step up from Olive Garden, Outback, etc. His Pot Roast was the best my wife has ever tasted. The Chile-lime "Brick" chicken had a very nice kick and a long lingering finish.
Hope to be able to follow other Burlington posts while we are back home.
Same for me; not 5,000 times, but every time I drove on Rt 7. Read about it on 7 Nights which stressed its family atmosphere and faithful regulars. Took a shot and was pleasantly surprised. I find that both Alfredo and pesto are easy to ruin and hard to make and both were very, very good. Next time I will try their red sauce.
I have dined at Buono's a few times and find it friendly and consistent (not a given in the restaurant world !). My only complaint is that some of the prices seem a bit high given the atmosphere. My guess is they have a strong repeat business from folks in Shelburne/Charlotte. We tend to cook most of the items on their menu at home (chicken/veal/egplant parm , lasagna, etc.). The comments about the ravioli have me planning a trip to Route 7 !
That's funny, Sign'O, we too were like that. Although I had eaten their pizza for lunch (I work in Shelburne), we decided to stop by on the way home one late Saturday night a few summers back, after a long day of having a garage sale with family in Burlington. An utter and very pleasant surprise. Their clam sauce was absolutely delicious and the pasta was cooked to perfection.
But, I will say, since that time I've eaten there on several occasions and I've found it to be hit or miss. The clam sauce has never tasted the same and one time we had to wait nearly 45 minutes for our meal, so long I almost just walked out. Not sure what took so long, it is only pasta and the restaurant wasn't full. But, for Italian food on the south side of town, it beats Olive Garden if you have a hankering. The pesto is very good, as are the ravioli.
The last time I ate there I was carded, so for this 41-year-old, it's worth a trip back! ;-)