Eat Like A (Iron) Horse. A Restaurant Review.

What’s the restaurant where you want to go when friends visit from out of town?  The one you save for moments when you really want the town to turn on its charm?  In my perpetual campaign to show friends what a great place Ashland is, I decided to check out a popular, well-known restaurant that I hadn’t visited since moving here.  There are multiple restaurants I can impress them with mind you, but the Iron horse is home to the one, true “Center of the Universe.”    And that means, the Iron Horse proudly protects the precise “Center of the Universe” which is indicated by a bronze compass rose on Barstool #3.    

On the corner of Ashland’s main street, Railroad Avenue, and the busiest rail line in the East, IRON HORSE’S two-story beacon is hard to miss. Set in a 100+ year-old building that formerly housed Cox’s department store, IRON HORSE has become a community landmark.  The interior has been subtly updated and includes historical pictures of the building and area and has a cozy and warm feel.    

IRON HORSE specializes in serving modern Southern hospitality and a familiar, community spirit where you’re always “welcome back”.   And our waiter, Noah, certainly made us feel like we had been there many times before and took his time and made terrific recommendations.  The thoughtful menu offers fresh regional seafood, hand-cut steaks, and local produce and manages to be both sophisticated and gloriously unfussy.   With so many choices we decided to share an entrée so we could order other small plates to experience the flavors.     We started with a southern tradition, pimento cheese with green chilies and crostini.  Perfect to start the meal and enjoy our cocktails and conversation.   We followed with the roasted beet salad, combined with candied walnuts, goat cheese arugula and a sherry vinaigrette. It was a favorite.   The Chef’s Soup of the Day was gazpacho, made from local Hanover tomatoes of course.  Can’t pass that up and it was delicious and refreshing!  For our main course, we chose the Pan Roasted Scottish Salmon with cauliflower risotto, roasted zucchini and grape tomatoes, and saffron butter sauce.   Oh my!   Let’s just say, from the appetizers to the soup and salad to the main course, the parade of dishes we encountered were consistently delightful, crafted with obvious skill and a respect for the ingredients.  Unfortunately, we did not save room for dessert, but we’ll be back soon.

Another bonus is from your seat in the Corner Bar or on the best sidewalk café in Ashland, you can sit back and watch the world turn. IRON HORSE is the best vantage point to watch traffic on the busiest rail line on the East Coast.   The Iron Horse is open for lunch, dinner as well as a bar snacks menu for late nights listening to live music.  

Iron Horse is a place I look forward to visiting often, not only for dinner but for the entertainment.   What fun!    And just to sit on the sidewalk with a cocktail and watch the trains go by.   It’s a solid pick for date night, to show off your town, or going out with a group of friends.   And make sure you grab a seat on barstool #3 so you can experience, the “Center of the Universe!”   The  Iron Horse has already ascended to the top of my “look how good we have it here” list.