Your plans for this weekend are here! Get a babysitter lined up, tell them not to expect you home for 4-5 hours because you are going to plant your ass on a chair and enjoy some amazing food, beer and wine and you’re not going to be in a rush about it! This restaurant review could be as simple as, “Just go there” or “Must eat here” because that’s really how good this place is. But, I’ve got some sweet food snaps so I’ll go a little deeper.
Ladora, Iowa is about a 50 minute drive from Cedar Rapids a little more than an hour from Des Moines and is essentially in a ghost town. Situated in an old bank sits Ladora Bank Bistro and if it wasn’t for my son’s little league game, I wouldn’t have made it in to see just how great this place is. In a town of 287 people sits a culinary work of art!
The bank was opened in 1920 and the owners did a great thing by not taking out the teller windows, vault, etc. Essentially keeping the history of the bank in tact while opening up a great restaurant. Upon entering, the structure and the objects from the past were what you noticed, and the quaint ambiance is what you feel. Plate after plate of tapas leaving the kitchen and being served to eager guests as they lick their lips at what is presented before them made you feel like this was the right place to stop and eat.
We dined with some fellow foodies and wine lovers, and as the late great Anthony Bourdain once said, “You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together” and that couldn’t have been more true, as during some pre-meal drinks we were able to connect some people from our pasts to one another. The plates come out tapas style and are served when they are ready.
The first few dishes to come out where the “Angels on Horseback” which are bacon wrapped scallops with a horseradish marmalade and the red snapper tacos. I didn’t try the scallops but the rest of the party loved them and the fish tacos were some the best tacos I’ve had. Perfectly cooked and not overly seasoned fish, the chipotle lime sauce was tart and delicious and a big heaping mound of pickled red onions were good enough to eat by themselves.
The rest of the dishes then came out. The Thai shrimp crostini was good enough to eat like a stew but when toasted sourdough is presented you can’t say no. The shrimp were plump and perfectly cooked, the sauce was extremely flavorful and every bite was a flavor explosion. Excellent dish. The Pork Belly Bao buns are the perfect hand held snack food. Pork belly was crispy, not too fatty and melted in your mouth and the pickles and dill were the perfect companion to the sauce. Last but not least were the duck potstickers. This was truly one of the better things I’ve ever eaten. The duck was fork tender, melt in your mouth, and the asian cabbage slaw paired perfect. It’s hard not shove your face when the food is this good and I was proud of myself for not looking like a complete glutton. I can’t recommend this place enough, for the food alone, it’s worth the trip, it’s a must try experience, so make the journey!
This was the real shock of the experience. The beer list was terrific! Fulton Mosaic IPA on tap, Dogfish head Indian Brown, Great Divide Yeti, Lion Bridge Plum Saison, and Big Grove Boomtown all on tap along with a HUGE wine list! I believe our waiter was a certified cicerone but I forgot to ask, but he definitely knew his beer. The vault was also stocked with a ton of bottles for your pleasure.
Foodies rejoice. This place is for you. Beer geeks rejoice, a terrific tap list with a bottles to follow. Make some time to check this place out, you won’t regret it!