This is one of those places that I am sure that my review, whether good or bad, really won't make a difference to those that have read the reviews, seen the TV shows, or probably have eaten the food before. But allow me to weigh in...this is as close to a Park Slope joint in Richmond as I have been to. The smell hits you as you round the corner, and then you see the patiently waiting masses outside. No bar inside, no lounge...The dining area is as big as my living room, with approximately a dozen tables of varying sizes, most big enough to accommodate a group of four or five, but if you are a large group, forget it unless you rent the place out or go with at least an hour to wait outside. And located about a block away from the VCU Bookstore and the Siegel Center, I guess you could put your name down, disappear for a half hour and come back without missing a beat.
And you will wait...we went off peak, we waited, we went for lunch, we waited, we went for dinner, we waited. You are almost waiting for them to annex the townhouse next door before you go back. But I digress...the important question is...IS THE FOOD WORTH THE WAIT? The answer is yes. The food is fresh, delicious, and, this is the most important part, unique. Yes, their signature food item consists of sandwiches basically, so what's the big deal? The deal is in the details, like putting granny smith apples with chicken livers and slaw-er-shredded cabbage. Peach chutney and banana ketchup with blackened chicken. And let's not forget the bread, crisp french baguette that is crusty but enjoyably chewable, and a fine compliment to the ingredients. We ordered four half-battleships for four people, way too much food, but the fun was in the sampling. If two or more want the same sandwich, certainly get the whole boat. But plan on taking some home, especially if you sample one of their ridiculously creative desserts.
The wait notwithstanding, this is the place to take an out-of-towner who may doubt Richmond's pedigree as a foodie destination. So why the four stars instead of five? Well, there needs to be some urgency among the serving staff and the guests to eat and not linger, and there is none. You wanna sit in the window and stare at the cold hungry masses yearning to eat a battleship? Go right ahead...no one will stop you. The food takes a while understandably as it is fresh as fresh gets, but once the food is wrapped, the drinks finished, the desserts sampled, the coffee sipped, and the stares from the waiting throng beginning to turn to scowls, get me my damn check just a WEE bit faster, thanks. I don't fault anyone for wanting to enjoy their dinner but folks, lets give at least half a thought to those that are waiting, and expedite the paying process a bit. A small bit of concern goes a long way. The Black Sheep is all you've heard about, but be prepared to press your face up against the glass and be an outsider looking in. At least for a little while. Or call the takeout angel and bring your battleships home! Yes, they taste just as good, and you can avoid uncomfortable stares and frostbitten toes.