210715BLACKSHEEP

Nikki Bolka, a member of The Gazette’s restaurant review team The Four Dishes, ordered this entree of preserved lime and scallop risotto during a recent trip to The Black Sheep in Whitewater. The dish featured seared scallops topped with tarragon butter served with rice and asparagus.

WHITEWATER

The Black Sheep is thriving, and it is better than ever.

Housed in the former Dan’s Meat Market on Whitewater Street, this farm-to-table restaurant focuses on locally sourced foods—because owner Tyler Sailsbery really cares about food.

The eatery sits across the street from Cravath Lakefront Park, which hosts the Whitewater City Market on Tuesdays during the summer months. We arrived 15 minutes early and got a chance to peruse the market, which heightened our anticipation for the meal as we browsed all the fresh produce and goods. The restaurant itself has a rustic decor and original art on the walls.

The Black Sheep has several outside tables, but we opted to sit inside. Luckily, we had made reservations, because the dining room filled up quickly.

Because the menu is focused on what is fresh locally, diners will find many unique options. We went a little wild, and everything we ordered was fantastic.

Before we even had time to debate the main course, we put in an order for one of the bruschettas ($9.95). There were some interesting choices, but this one sounded especially good. It turned out to be outstanding.

The bread, which we understand to be house-made, was nicely toasted with a mix of mascarpone, a citrus-lime spread and a rhubarb glaze. What brought it over the top was a slice of pickled kohlrabi that provided a magical, crunchy bite.

I like bourbon, but had never had it in a martini. I sipped what Black Sheep calls a cowboy martini ($8) while reading and re-reading the menu. The drink’s ginger syrup added just the right amount of zip along with hints of honey and cinnamon.

Jennifer chose the Tito’s mule ($7.50). Crisp, fresh tasting and made with locally brewed Belfast ginger beer, the drink was served in a traditional copper mug. It was refreshing, to say the least. She thoroughly enjoyed it.

I was trying not to be greedy when I asked about the carrot gazpacho ($5.95), but when the server couldn’t really satisfy my curiosity, I went ahead and ordered it. It was very smooth and cool, had a strong hint of heat and a flavor of leek that really came through. It was presented beautifully, topped with thin curls of red onion and green leaves.

For my entree, I settled on the bulgogi marinated sirloin and grits ($19.95). Bulgogi is a sweet and spicy Korean sauce, and it covered thin, well-cooked slices of beef served over herb-filled grits. The dish included a side of the pickled kohlrabi I previously praised, and there was some lovely asparagus added for color. I was very happy with my choice.

The beet and ricotta ravioli ($17.95) Helene ordered was served as large squares wrapped in handmade dough reminiscent of filo dough. The ricotta cheese mixed with diced bits of red beets created a lovely pinkish hue that paired well with the green spears of the lightly salted asparagus.

This dish’s initial bite offered a hint of tartness that complemented the sweetness of the beets, and the creaminess of the center was a nice offset to the crunchiness of the wrapping. The sauce was olive oil-based with onions and mint, adding another layer of flavors.

Nikki ordered the preserved lime and scallop risotto ($29.95), which was served with a side of asparagus. The scallops had a nice sear and were topped with tarragon butter, and the rice was thick, rich and delicious.

Like me, Nikki was intrigued by another item on the menu: the lettuce and chickpea salad ($4.25/half, $8.95/full). We ordered one to share at the table.

The salad featured fried chickpeas and had a creamy cumin dressing that gave it a wonderful aroma and bite. A bit of goat cheese added some tang to the dish.

Jennifer is always on the hunt for a good burger, so the chipotle cheddar bacon burger ($13.95) was her entree choice.

Served on a toasted brioche bun, the local beef patty was juicy, tender and loaded with flavor. Perfectly grilled, it had a nice pink center and was topped with Wisconsin cheddar and crispy bacon.

A mild chipotle aioli came with the dish, and she generously smeared it on her burger to add a bit of zing that she thoroughly enjoyed. The meal also came with seasoned fries, and the aioli doubled as a great dipping sauce. Roasted asparagus completed the entree.

Full as we always are, when we find out desserts are house made, we have to try at least one.

The pot de creme ($4.95) was so rich that it was perfect to split four ways. But our favorite was the vanilla bean ice cream topped with a red wine reduction ($6.95). Sea salt was used to bring the dish together.

The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.

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