By Jessica Tuggle
VERO BEACH -- The Long Branch Saloon is the one place in Vero Beach where country-music lovers can hear Waylon Jennings, Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw and Willie Nelson, all in the space of one evening.
The town's only country bar offers delicious food, a relaxed and raw atmosphere and plenty of toe-tappin' music to dance the night away.
Last weekend, the featured band at Long Branch was Thunder Road, with Mitch Lee on guitar and lead vocals, Denis Laing on electric bass, Mike Jerome on guitar and vocals and Doug Goethel on drums and vocals.
With the wooden paneled walls and solid wooden bars, horseshoes and longhorns and a wagon wheel as accent décor, there is no doubt that a country-music band such as Thunder Road is perfectly suited to entertain the patrons who frequent Long Branch and love its environment.
"We try to stay up on the Top 40 music. We watch the trends and we try to learn it before it gets popular so we stay current," said Mr. Goethel.
"Some country bands just play the old stuff, but we play the old stuff and the new stuff; Toby Keith and Waylon and Willie, and people always seem to have a good time," he said.
Long Branch has live music at least three times each week using the talents of bands from around the region, said owner Dennis Silver.
The guests really seem to enjoy visiting with friends and dancing together on the dance floor. On Wednesday nights from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., free line-dance lessons are offered so even more people can join in the fun, he said.
While the band sets up the stage and sound equipment, having dinner with a date can be quite a delicious and delightful experience.
One of the most popular appetizers at Long Branch is a unique twist on the traditional Reuben sandwich.
Instead of being served on rye bread, the ingredients of a Reuben are stuffed into an egg roll and then deep fried. The end result is a satisfying external crunch and a rewarding, familiar taste inside, which is complemented by a Thousand-Island style dipping sauce.
Whether the main entrée is a big beefy burger with all the toppings, a heaping plate of hot wings, fish or a cold sandwich, a must- have dish is a crock of macaroni and cheese.
The dish is served piping hot, fresh from the kitchen and topped with extra cheese. For those who like adding something a little extra, the mac 'n cheese dish can be accentuate with a variety of ingredients, including bacon, chili, black olives or mushrooms, to name a few.
Restaurant kitchen hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Dine in, carry out and delivery are available.
Long Branch Saloon is located at 2199 Seventh Ave., Vero Beach. For more information, call (772) 562-0046 or visit www.thelongbranchsaloon.com.