My favorite entrée was filet mignon ($27) — even if it was cooked medium-well instead of medium-rare — with truly great mashed potatoes (one of four starch options, including mashed yucca potatoes, Basmati rice, and risotto) and a nice sauté of summer squash, peppers, and onions. A good piece of grilled salmon ($22) was a little dried out. It comes with a bit of sauce and a combination of mashed potatoes and yucca, which I'm betting we'll see more of in the future. You can taste each starch, but the mixture has the richness of potatoes.
Chicken pot pie ($14), a frequent special, is very solid, with a nice crust that keeps the creamed chicken and vegetables hot. The vegan entrée, "Fresh Pasta" ($17), was made from green fettuccine, and the other ingredients did not form a sauce. I ended up with chunks of tomato, shitake mushroom, spinach, and a few pine nuts, but no synthesis. The Statler chicken ($19) is served with the first wing sticking up, but has otherwise been de-boned. Here the problem was too much rosemary — a good herb in moderation, but too resinous when piled on. Basmati rice was fragrant and nicely cooked.
Black Sheep has a short but decent list of American wines and beers. A glass of 2006 Trentadue merlot ($9 glass/$35 bottle) had some Bordeaux-style spice, and so much tannin that I'd buy a bottle and put it away. When you get a glass of wine like that, swirl it a lot, as some of the astringency will air out. Coffee had an unusual "flaw": it was too strong. (And I usually like strong coffee.) The decaf was just fine, and tea gets you only a choice of bags, but at least they're brewed in a china pot.
Of the desserts, the pick was "turtle cheese cake" ($7) — as in the candy, not the animal. What you have here is a flan-shaped round of cheesecake topped with caramel and nuts. A "triple-chocolate mousse cake" ($7) looked to be only double layered, so the third part of the trifecta must have been the cookie crust. Boston cream pie ($7) has been updated by reducing the custard layer, leaving a somewhat dry yellow cake.
A collection of firehouse souvenirs and small toy fire trucks mark the theme. The floor is gray concrete, and the walls are red, but perhaps more brick-red than fire-engine red. The tablecloths are black, but they aren't wool.
Robert Nadeau can be reached at RobtNadeau@aol.com.