Iron Horse Bar & Grill is not a restaurant. It is a club, albeit not an exclusive one. I don’t know exactly what the rules are, but I was able to walk in and buy a membership ($18 per year; $2 for a day) with less screening than it takes to join Sam’s Club. Member benefits include not merely being able to eat and drink here, but to drink on Sunday (which can’t be done at a public restaurant), to smoke in a dedicated outdoor area, and to dine on the pet-friendly patio.
Iron Horse boasts that it has the coldest beer for 200 miles. It definitely is a drinking person’s place (featuring a do-it-yourself breathalyzer at the door); but even a teetotaler can eat well … providing that teetotaler likes bar food. Which raises the question: what exactly is bar food? Generally, it is food that goes well with drinks. Specifically in this restaurant it is very well-dressed half-pound hamburgers; it’s wings by the pound; it’s a plate of thick, warm Yukon Gold potato chips loaded with cheese and bacon and jalapeno chips (nacho style); it’s beery beer-battered onion rings; it’s fried-fish baskets, heroic sandwiches, and a kitchen-sink dish called the Iron Horse Mess, which is roast beef or grilled chicken with onions, peppers and mushrooms topped with melted mozzarella cheese. No, this is not cordon bleu cuisine. But when mighty appetite demands appeasement (with or without adult-beverage thirst), Iron Horse is up to the challenge.
Much of the appeal of the restaurant (er, club) is its out-of-the-way location, at a crossroads not far from the Savannah River in the unincorporated community of Beech Island (once soul man James Brown’s estate, and now his final resting place). It has an extremely relaxed personality, with plenty of seats outside for pilgrims who come by car and motorcycle to linger before or after a meal; and the interior decor is, to put it mildly, eclectic. All in all, it’s a fun place to dine. I am happy to be a member.