By Toni W. Riley
If someone is looking for a restaurant where the menu is unique, changes regularly and tastes wonderful, then look no further than The Black Sheep Bistro, which offers an international menu with Southern attitude.
This one-of-a-kind restaurant at 100 S. Main St., Trenton, is in a restored Standard Oil gas station at the caution light downtown. Once a filling station, the building has become a “filling” station of another kind.
Since opening its doors June 20, the bistro has had a steady stream of customers, and they keep coming back. Owner Mike Broyles said he expected maybe 50 people on opening day.
“We had 125 people for lunch,” he laughed. “We were overwhelmed and not ready.”
The lunch menu is centered, as Broyles said, “around my meats,” which are all smoked. Pulled pork, chicken and kielbasa-style sausage are available every day while brisket is only available on Fridays. Broyles quickly noted he did not want the bistro to be “a meat and three,” but viewing the menu, he has been defiantly successful in this realm.
The dining choices are as eclectic as the bistro itself. Chicken caprese and smokin’ Cuban sandwiches are on one side of the menu and on the other, chicken tacos and “Any Given Sundae,” which is a Mason jar layered with pulled pork, Carolina slaw, smoked beans and homemade barbecue sauce, topped with a pickle.
For the traditionalists, there’s the “Filling Station,” which includes the classic pulled pork sandwich or a plate with two meats and three sides. A variety of salads are available as well.
The sides are just as important as the meats. The jalapeno corn, smoked macaroni and cheese and the smoked beans are all homemade. The beans are a blend of pork, pinto beans, green pepper, jalapeno pepper and crushed pineapple that have a full smoky flavor from being on the grill. The jalapeno corn is a rich mixture of cream cheese, butter and a nice jalapeno pepper kick — it’s surprisingly the best-selling side item.
“When I asked around about what would sell, I was told people around here don’t like spicy,” Broyles laughed.
Saving room for dessert might be difficult, but all are homemade, except the cheesecake. His favorite is Key lime cake, as well as berry cobbler and banana pudding. The dessert menu changes daily.
Drinks are served in quart-size Mason jars, and the sweet tea is truly Southern.
The bistro opens for breakfast at 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and the menu is built around biscuits and cinnamon rolls. Orders can be called in for pick-up, but eating in is fine also.
While driving to Trenton for lunch or breakfast might not be convenient, The Black Sheep Bistro is open on Thursday nights for prime rib and Friday nights for a fish fry along with the other meats and sides.
Mike isn’t content with serving the same thing, the same way, every day. So, he updates the bistro’s Facebook page daily with new menu items. That’s the best way to keep up with his menu and special events, like University of Kentucky watch parties, movie nights, cornhole games and live music.
Earlier in the summer, Broyles and a local veterinarian, John Lassiter, hosted a kids night with the proceeds benefiting local animal charities. When the bistro is closed at night, it can be rented for private parties with the bistro providing the food.
The décor of the restaurant might be classified as minimal-industrial. The original overhead doors and windows are still intact, and the car lifter, which has been lowered and painted bright red, serves as a bar where patrons can eat when the tables are full. The original tire racks have been converted into shelves and decorated with antique seed sacks, paying homage to the local agriculture industry.
The wood-topped tables are all homemade by Broyles and his father-in-law from galvanized pipe. The chairs are a mismatch of black and red, some wood, some metal. The original parts room is now the kitchen, and what was the small, front waiting room will become a gift shop selling T-shirts, hats and barbecue sauce. Broyles said there are still more plans for growth.
A story about the Black Sheep Bistro wouldn’t be complete without a story about how the stars aligned for the restaurant to come into existence.
Mike, his wife Hannah, and their two children moved to Cadiz from Florida in September 2014. The couple wanted to get back to a simpler life, and Hannah had family connections in the area. Around the same time, Trenton residents Barry and Leigh Groves purchased the Standard Oil Station with the hope of someone turning it into a restaurant.
Broyles wasn’t looking to open a restaurant, but when he heard about the opportunity, he jumped at the chance.
“I have always liked smoking meat, and I cooked for tailgate parties and did some small catering jobs,” he recalled.
He worked with the Groves on the remodeling and now leases the building from them.
“I wouldn’t have been able to open this restaurant without the support of Barry and Leigh,” Broyles said.
Leigh was equally complimentary about what Mike has brought to Trenton.
“He is extremely hardworking, serves great food and has become a big part of our Cultivate Trenton group that looks for ways to bring people to Trenton,” she said.
Talking about the name, Broyles grinned and said it came from being the “black sheep” of his family — however, he wouldn’t divulge any additional information.
It’s evident Broyles loves what he is doing and takes tremendous pride in what the Black Sheep Bistro has become in such a short period of time.
“We wanted our restaurant to be cool, different and unique,” he said. “We pride ourselves on our food and our recipes. We present a menu that we are happy with, and it’s important that our patrons don’t leave hungry.”
Facebook: “The Black Sheep Bistro”