Located in front of Harmony at the Lakes, Iron Horse Restaurant is owned and operated by Chef John Griffin and has one of the most interesting and creative menus in these parts.
Consider the lunch menu. As I did, you might find it difficult to choose from a list of very tempting appetizers like Roasted Mussels or Broiled Crab Cake or Baked Oysters in Aromatics or the “southern must”—Fried Green Tomatoes layered with bleu cheese and spiced pecans. I love it when the appetizer menu is as exciting as the entrees. Chef John has compiled a delightful assortment that has wide appeal. The appetizers range in price from $5.95-11.95.
Did I mention that this is a kind of restaurant? Want to host a few of your friends? Bring a bottle of your favorite vino and order a round of all of the appetizers and share in the good times.
There are four hearty soups—great for these chilly days and nights now. I selected the Baked Onion Soup ($5.25) that was the classic, straight deal. You know the soft caramelized onions in a beef broth topped with toasted garlic bread and gooey, melted Swiss cheese? Yes, that one; a perfect starter on the crisp day that I came for lunch.
Traveling down the menu are four salads, but only one that grabbed my attention: the Bourbon Smoked Salmon Salad. Aside from the distilled spirits and the smoking, the other interesting ingredients include apple wood bacon, bleu cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, that apple wood vinaigrette and “Tumbleweed” onions. This is priced at $15.95, a meal onto itself.
Voted Best Burgers in Cherokee County
There are three simple reasons Iron Horse’s burgers were voted the best in Cherokee County. First, the beef is ground fresh daily. The second reason is that your ½ pound-charbroiled burger is prepared to your exact specification. And lastly, the skillful flavor stacking produces a burger that deeply satisfies.
Consider the combination of Apple wood bacon, chipotle BBQ sauce and cheddar cheese. Imagine a charbroiled burger with caramelized bleu cheese and blackfish spice (this is the Cajun-necessary spice for “blackened” meat or fish and has nothing at all to do with the finfish called “blackfish” or “poor man’s lobster.”), and lastly, who doesn’t like sautéed mushrooms and Swiss cheese on a perfectly grilled burger? These winners range in price from $8.95 to $9.75.
From the Wraps, I chose the Gyro Wrap ($8.95), a combination of beef and lamb thinly sliced with grilled onions, roasted red peppers, feta cheese and a cucumber sauce in a warm pita. The portion size was very generous and the beef and lamb slices were tender, hot, juicy and quite flavorful as is typical of this style of grilled meats. The pita was fresh, soft and warm.
There are 12 different sandwiches ranging in price from $7.95-10.95, and seven entrees with one particularly interesting twist to the low country classic: shrimp and grits ($12.95). Here Chef Griffin sautés the shrimp with roasted corn, andouille sausage, peppers and onions and serves this atop a fried jalapeño grits cake (think fried polenta cake). From among the three pasta choices, the Lobster and Crab Ravioli stands heads above the others. Here, four handmade raviolis are stuffed with lobster and crab meat, creamy ricotta cheese, fresh spinach and basil then laced with a tarragon cream sherry sauce for $14.95.
The atmosphere is pleasant; the decor is tasteful. Seating is ample on the inside and outside, weather permitting, and the service is attentive and informative.
Changes to Come
As I chatted with my server, I was saddened to learn that Chef John is discontinuing the lunch trade. Sunday Brunch and dinners will continue, though. I can’t advise you regarding new hours or the new menu as this information had not been released at the time of my visit, so I suggest that you call or check the website for information regarding these changes. The quality and creativity of the food, the personable service, pleasant atmosphere is incentive enough to patronize Iron Horse even for abbreviated hours.