Restaurant Review: Restaurant Review
Black Sheep Lodge is still pulling in a crowd every night, despite the fact that the liquor license has arrived, so you now have to pay for your drinks
Reviewed by Kate Thornberry, Fri., July 24, 2009
Sun.-Fri., 11am-12mid; Sat., 11am-1am
Black Sheep Lodge2108 S. Lamar, 707-2744
Sunday-Friday, 11am-12mid; Saturday, 11am-1am
When Troy Moore, Keith Sandel, and Brian Pacheco opened the doors of Black Sheep Lodge, their new venture at Lamar and Oltorf, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission had not yet approved their liquor license. So, the three partners decided to give away free beer (maximum: two) with food orders until the license came through. Rarely do you see a new place open up and be instantly packed to the gills. Word gets around, I guess. This reviewer's attention was certainly caught by the nightly crowds squeezing into the picnic tables on Black Sheep Lodge's parking lot beer garden. "It really gave us a chance to straighten out our menu, too," confesses Moore. "Under the circumstances, people were pretty forgiving!"
Moore and Pacheco were partners in the popular Molotov Lounge on West Sixth, which they sold last September in order to come South. "We wanted to get away from the Downtown scene and open a more relaxed, neighborhood place." Black Sheep Lounge is all that. Although the interior is clean and new, and the air conditioning not only works but blasts out marvelously frigid air, the feel of the place is local all the way. Faux-vintage posters advertising Barton Springs and Deep Eddy decorate the walls along with Rocky Mountain-themed artwork. Black Sheep Lodge boasts a pool table, air hockey, a dartboard, and a full bar. Smoking (and dogs) are allowed in the beer garden, and the music and TV volumes are kept down to a decent level that does not interfere with conversation.
The Lodge's long suit is beer: 97 varieties are served, 20 of them on tap. Many local breweries are strongly represented in the draft arena, including Real Ale Brewing Co.'s Firemans 4, Independence Brewing Co.'s Austin Amber, and several offerings from Live Oak Brewing Co. Deschutes' organic amber ale from Oregon is on tap as well, along with 14 other fine drafts, making Black Sheep Lodge one of the best-supplied taverns south of the river.
The menu is focused pretty tightly on bar-food favorites, with a little push toward home-style cooking. Smoked chipotle wings ($6.99), chili ($2.99), green chile queso ($4.99), and chips and salsa ($2.99) are reliably present, but the menu also offers fried pickles ($5.99), tater tots ($2.99), fried sweet potatoes ($2.99), and fresh fruit pie by Texas Pie Co. of Kyle ($3.99).
The specialties of the house are burgers, sandwiches, and hot dogs. All of the burgers are ginormous and come with your choice of battered fries, tater tots, sweet potato fries, onion rings, salad, or the fresh vegetable of the day. The Black Buffalo Burger ($6.99) is a huge beef patty topped with blue cheese, buffalo sauce, mixed greens, tomato, pickle, and onion and could easily supply dinner for two. In fact, every serving of every menu item is gargantuan. The Greenbelt Veggie Burger ($6.99) is 100% vegan and has a patty just as massive as the regular burger, making it one of the best veggie-burger deals in town. The portobello cheesesteak ($7.49) provides a second vegetarian option, featuring marinated portobello slices grilled up with onions and peppers and melted provolone.
Hot dogs are served up Chicago-style ($4.49), with celery salt, tomato, relish, and sport peppers; Texas-style ($4.99), topped with chili, onions, and melted cheese; and plain ($3.99). Sandwiches include a pulled-pork carnitas sandwich ($7.49), a chicken club ($7.99) with bacon and Swiss, and the Black Bird Chicken (6.99), a simple grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce, pickles, onion, and tomato.
Black Sheep Lounge is still pulling in a crowd every night, and it's off to a great start, despite the fact that the liquor license has arrived, so you now have to pay for your drinks.