The Black Sheep

Black Sheep has always been one of my favorite spots in Ashland. Perched in an old building on the downtown Ashland plaza, the large picture windows provide a great spot for people watching and taking in the hustle and bustle of downtown. The British/Irish inspired pub has a great atmosphere, beer menu and traditional fare.

The whole experience begins when you open the heavy double-doors from the street level and head up the red carpet lined stairway. The black stairway walls are lined with photos of people and British kitsch to add to the “bohemian-chic” atmosphere. There is definitely a “funk factor” to the place, but not in a bad way, this place has earned every ding in the wood and chip in the paint, it is all part of the warm character.

We were seated, rather, seated ourselves at the last window table available, which was a blessing because it was a muggy day, and I’m not sure if they had air conditioning. We started off our dinner with oyster shooters and baked oysters in the half shell. These I have to say, were the best part of our experience. Since I’m not much of a raw oyster fan, my husband Kelly had the oyster shooters, he really liked the extra-hot horseradish in the shooter.

Then it was on to the baked oyster appetizer. They arrived on a plate in hot salt “ which helps to not only support the awkward oyster shell, but provide even, hot heat through service and it makes for an interesting presentation. I have to say, these were fabulous! The oysters had a brilliant topping of spinach and Pernod. The mixture of the spinach, garlic and Pernod creates a pesto-like flavor that meshes perfectly with the oyster. This was a pleasant surprise, and for any oyster fan, I highly recommend getting these.

For dinner, I ordered the blackberry chambord chicken and Kelly had the Salmon with dill butter. Both plates came with steamed veggies and a serving of wild rice. I chose the chicken because it was touted on the menu as a house specialty. I was disappointed with it. The rice was undercooked and it had peas and carrots that resembled frozen vegetables. I need to sound off on this because this is a pet peeve of mine; if a restaurant is asking for a fair price per plate, I never want to see a frozen veggie or something that even resembles one. I think it would have been better if it was just rice.

The chicken was smothered in blackberry chambord sauce that was too acidic for my taste. The veggies were good, and cooked to perfection. Kelly had the same experience with his portion of rice. He said although the salmon was cooked to perfection, it was kind of bland.

I have had their shepard’s pie on another occasion, and that was a memorable experience. It was really good, and had levels of flavor that were absolutely wonderful. I’m not sure about their other traditional dishes, but, if you plan on dining at Black Sheep, I would recommend sticking to the traditional menu.

The service was okay; not the best I’ve had, but I would say average. I have been to Black Sheep on a busy night, and have seen how hard the service staff work to keep up, but at times, you may be in for a bit of a wait on a busy night.

This was not my first time to Black Sheep. I have been there many times to go out with friends and have a couple beers, play darts or to listen to the Irish pickup band on Sundays. I think I’m going to stick with that plan. Only next time, I’ll have some oysters with my black & tan.

Atmosphere: ****
Drinks: ****
Food: **
Service: ***

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Well, hmm. During the day, I work as a graphic designer for an advertising agency. In the off hours I like to explore my own creative endeavors. From garage sales and thrift stores, to the fabric store, you'll find me filling my basket full of goods to fill my palette for projects on the horizon. I have a lovely husband and two doggies; Agnes and Lucy. Agnes is a chocolate lab, and Lucy is a 12lb rat terrier. They make me laugh every day. I also have a bountiful veggie garden every summer. I like to grow everything from tomatoes to tobacco. Yeee Haw!
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