Travel to 1920: Ladora’s Bank Bistro [Review]

In my previous post, I mentioned Mama and I stopping on our motorcycle ride to the Amana Colonies, in Ladora.  We stopped at the fuel station, and noticed a beautiful historic building, which we assumed was abandoned decades ago.  On our return trip, we realized it was a bistro, so I promised to check it out.

This building was born in 1920 as a booming bank with the post-WWI farm economy to drive its initial success.  As the Depression left its impact across the US, it closed its doors in 1931.

A guy out on his motorcycle, did something that’s one of my favorite methods to great discoveries – pulling off and pressing your face against the windows, to see what treasures are aging inside.  Long story short (you can see their full story on their site), the Ladora Bank Bistro opened in 2008.  It is now owned by Chef Jim and his wife.

As you walk in, you quickly realize why reservations are recommended – there is a maximum capacity of 40.  And, you’ll want to savor the entire experience for hours.  Much to my surprise, it beautifully remains as a bank that happens to serve flavorful shared plates and a plethora of smooth drinks.

I whole-heartedly respect what effort must go into keeping the integrity of the original building.  It takes a true visionary to picture teller windows as a bar, the money drawers as draft topper storage, and the vault as a cooler for numerous selections of wine and beer.

If you’re anything like me, your curiosity will be fully-struck to wander around and take every detail in.  With permission, I walked through the door to go upstairs.  I envisioned what a great studio apartment this could be.  But, I had to go back to reality.

I watched as those with reservations arrived, formally dressed, and ready to have an evening of delicious food and drink, with an atmosphere that will forever decorate their memory of that evening.

While the menu isn’t vegan-friendly, I was more than happy to go off my diet for the evening to crispy pot stickers making this fast eater wanting to slowly eat, to remember the great Asian flavors.  And, the charcuterie board is packed with a great variety of flavors to mix and match (I did pass on eating the meat, but enjoyed the cheese).  I opted for an extra side of spicy mustard, and used my pickled ginger too.

The beer selection?  I began with a recent new favorite:  Cider House’s Coyote Verde (green apple cider) and continued onto a pear cider, and a strawberry ale.

Whether Ladora is on your route, or many miles out of your way – you must stop!  But, I now concur with their recommendation:  make a reservation!

May your ride be smooth, and your drinks stiff!  Cheers!


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