A few days ago, I finally got my mini-truck, a 1987 Mazda, looking how I want. Mr. Harada and I customized it to achieve peak style: gull-wing doors, wire spoke wheels, a hydraulic suspension kit, a 3,000-watt stereo and a teal/crimson paint job. With the last screw tightened on the boomerang TV antenna, we slipped into the velour interior and headed to our favorite cruising spot: The Town and Country Shopping Center in San Jose.

But to our horror, someone removed Town and Country and installed what looks like a jumble of Europe’s most average architecture. We put the pedal down, and headed to our other stand-by: Willow Glen.

Alas, the Willow Glen strip had also changed, losing one lane to its “road diet,” and any sense of style (no one admired our ride). We went to the local business association to express our concern with the changes, but that too had vanished. In its place was Black Sheep Brasserie. Neither of us were sure what a “Brasserie” is, but by its looks we assumed it’s a fancy place for fancy people and we would be welcomed.

We took a seat at the bar and immediately began eavesdropping on a neighboring conversation. With no juicy details to be had, we turned our attention to the drinks menu. Mr. Harada ordered The French 75, which sounds a bit like a street gang formed of retired Moulin Rouge dancers. I indulged in the Villager IPA from Four Point Beer Company. The entire drink menu is refined, featuring cocktails that require sacred Masonic knowledge to assemble.

Our bartender, one Syrus Fotovat, surveyed us like lost street children, a simultaneous glance of pity and distrust. I began an awkward conversation that contained personal details far too intimate to share with a stranger—it’s my test for bartenders. Most fail. Syrus parried elegantly, and returned his own cringe-inducing anecdote. A true professional.

I ordered the steak tartare, which arrived with a quail egg and was served with a skillfully charred side of bread. Black Sheep is not only fancy, it’s expensive if you’re more accustomed to neighborhood dives.

After several delicious libations and pints, we obviously couldn’t drive. So, we did the sensible thing: We called AAA and got towed home on a flatbed.

Black Sheep Brasserie
1202 Lincoln Ave., San Jose.