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Distinctive SC Dining: Blacksheep

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 35 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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Chef Matt Wallace diligently prepares orders as they hit the kitchen.

Since May 2020, the foodie buzz in Beaufort has centered around a compact, cozy, unassuming neighborhood restaurant. It is called Blacksheep, a name that embodies its unique, non-traditional approach to dining.

Truth be told, you could just as well call it “Chef Matt Wallace’s Excellent Adventure” and still be spot-on. Inside the 900-square foot building on Boundary Street, there’s some serious culinary magic afoot. Experiencing it requires a little pre-planning, though.

Fresh fish with creamed corn, chive vinaigrette, Marcona almonds and squash.

Working the System

The concept is simple: Make a reservation, show up at the appointed time, order, relax and enjoy. Simple enough, right? Not so fast. Reservations are a hot commodity, so plan far in advance. Check the website for the day and time reservations open for the next available month, set an alert and be ready to act fast. Reservations get gobbled up, sometimes in mere minutes. If you miss out, try again the following month or stay tuned to the website for cancellation updates. Because this is an adult dining experience, plan to spring for a sitter. (Note: Making reservations requires a credit card number as last-minute cancellations and no-shows may incur a charge.)

Behind the Blacksheep doors, you'll find an adventure in local and global flavors.

Arriving

Once you snag a reservation, set another alert so you arrive neither early nor late as there is no standing room. The restaurant seats about 14 people while still allowing for comfortable spacing. The feel is intimate, but never tight.

The Blacksheep menu is a map for exploring exciting ingredients dishes.

The Menu

At your table, note the printed slip of paper. This is the night’s menu, usually four courses with a couple of options for each. As you read the ingredients, there’s a sense of things familiar and not so familiar. This is where adventure comes into play so no adjustments, please—dive in with relish. For the ultimate culinary experience, choose everything (as in EVERYTHING) for the table. Sharing is strongly encouraged. And if you like the evening’s soundtrack, you can find that info, too, at the bottom of your menu.

Almost every dish at Blacksheep takes a turn in the woodfired oven named Dolly.

Execution 

See that stack of seasoned wood against the wall? It’s not there to lend an air of rusticity. Just about everything at Blacksheep is cooked in a hefty wood-burning oven named Dolly. You can get a peek at the kitchen (which is about the same size as the dining room) when you enter the building. Go ahead—wave “hello” to Dolly and Chef Wallace on the way to your seat.

Crunchy chips make a surprisingly perfect partner for cool bits of tender beef with spicy harissa aioli.

Gastronomy

Expect the unexpected and immerse yourself in the dining experience. Chef Wallace and his knowledgeable general manager, Krista Duffy, comprise the entire staff. Not only do they personally serve you, but they deliver insightful commentary with each course. (Tip: Opt for the well-researched, suggested wine pairings.) And what about the cuisine? Think super fresh, inspired, sublime and surprising with pops of international flair and ripples of Southern influence. Herbs and exotic spices add punches here and there. Textures play off one another in tantalizing ways. Desserts get the same thoughtful treatment as any other course. Savor them with an order of French press coffee for a perfect finish.

Cool, minty and pungent, this watermelon salad has lots of Mediterranean flair.

Bottom Line

Blacksheep might be a small-scale operation, but its engaging vibe, innovative approach and splendidly conceived and crafted dishes generate an air of dining largesse.

Blacksheep is located at 1216 Boundary St., Beaufort.

Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 35 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.