I feel bad even bringing this up, but what can you do? The Black Sheep is doomed. No reprieve, just flat out doomed. There’s nothing to be done about it. It’s a matter of location. Why in the name of all that is holy would you put a burger place next to Cole’s famous French dip? Why? You can’t compete with that. Cole’s is a beloved institution with a secret speakeasy in the back. Their lamb dip with goat cheese is something that people would wait in line endlessly for. Their bourbon pecan pie is the stuff dreams are made of. And to top that all off, the Black Sheep closes an hour earlier than Coles. It’s just a mess.
If this burger joint had been placed pretty much anywhere else in the city (except for maybe next to Philippe’s or Golden State) it would have been fine. They have stunning array of gourmet burgers, sliders, and hotdogs. They’ve got drunk food down. They serve fancy beers, ciders, sake bombs and elaborate lemonades. Man, they even have cheesy truffle tater tots. Their buns are fluffy, their burgers are luscious, their toppings are unoriginal, but delicious, the prices are reasonable, but they are screwed.
We didn’t have the appetite to try all of their six burgers, so forgive me if I’ve missed something crucial. We managed to try three of their burgers. The Black Sheep which came with arugula, Gouda, caramelized onions and garlic aioli, which would please those who don’t like their cheese burgers too fancy. The Steak House Burger was for those who like their burgers really fancy. It came with spinach, fontina cheese, bacon and onion compote, mushrooms, and house steak sauce. The effect was sloppy and overwrought. The winner, however, was the Western burger was the clear winner with had spring mix, American cheese, onion rings, and chipotle BBQ sauce which had the exact right amount of sass. They were all quite delicious, a little small, and came out really fast. Did they beat the French dip next door? No, not even close.
Could the untimely demise of the Black Sheep be avoided? Sure. Here are five simple ways that could happen. One, hire a bouncer. If homeless men can wander into your restaurant and beg for change, it’s going to be a damper on the whole meal. Two, if your patrons request a lemonade and sake together, oblige them. Charge them extra if you have to, but answering “We don’t do that.” is insane when you’ve already served them a lemonade and a sake separately. Three, hire a wait staff. Having your customers order at the bar just leads to resentment and chaos. Your burgers aren’t good enough for that kind of nonsense behavior. That’s reserved for the major leaguers, like Father’s Office and Golden State. Four, stay open later than Cole’s. Like those birds that live on cleaning alligator teeth, you could eke out a living by pick up their leftovers. Five, hire someone who makes homemade pie. You might have a prayer if you serve really excellent dessert.
Oh who am I kidding? You can’t be saved. You’ve got a couple years, five at most. Enjoy your time while you can.
– Molly Bergen