It's not unusual to find really good restaurants in small towns; Ashland has The Ironhorse, for example. An iron horse, of course, is the romantic sounding, turn-of-the-century name for a railroad locomotive. The Ironhorse restaurant carries the theme forward with prints and memorabilia from the heyday of railroading. But the theme moves beyond nostalgic amnesia, and the conceit works because in Ashland a railroad still runs through it. And from your seat in The Ironhorse, you see, feel and hear the trains as they lumber past a mere 30 or so feet away. It's romantic in a sepia-tinted kind of way.
Likewise, Chef Jeff Prettyman (formerly of The Frog and the Redneck) offers a rich, sepia-tinted palette of full-flavor fall harvest and hunter motifs for his November menu. Roasted quail ($16.75) is larger than you'd expect and stuffed with a savory blend of cornbread, Surrey sausage and leeks, while the sauteed mahi mahi ($17.75) comes with Chinese black rice, an earthy surprise. Even the tapas ($8.95), usually a category of food rather than a single dish, come rich with earthy autumn flavors of hummus, pastrami, smoked salmon, rabbit rillettes, kalamata tapenade, grilled portabellas and roasted garlic.
Desserts, while good, were not as remarkable as the appetizers and entrees. Still, with a menu that changes monthly, The Ironhorse is a destination worth a regular round-trip ticket.
The Ironhorse 100 S. Railroad Ave. Ashland 804-752-6410 Lunch Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Dinner Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m.; 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday, Saturday Live music in the Calvert Room every night Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations recommended for
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