Guys. Ladora, Iowa. Population 283. And it has this:
This is the Ladora Bank Bistro, and it's gotta be one of the coolest/best/most interesting restaurants in Iowa, if not the Midwest, simply due to its almost unthinkable setup.
For starters, it's in Ladora. There's literally nothing that's still standing near this 1920s bank-turned-restaurant. U.S. Route 6, which it's on, used to be the main drag to Chicago. Now U.S. Route 6 is something you have to look up because you didn't know it existed. This is basically a Midwestern version of Cars, only instead of Radiator Springs, it's Ladora. Check out what's across the street:
That's architectural sadness, that is. This particular spot on Pacific St seems more like a ghost town than anything. The inside of the old bank, though, is anything but. It's Neoclassicism at its finest. Doric columns. Marble counters. Insanely-high ceilings. Roman-esque quotes. There's still teller windows, old-school bathrooms, winding staircases — notes of the building's history are everywhere.
Which brings us to the next juxtaposition:
The menu is classy af.
And delicious as all hell. It manages to strike a deft balance between unintimidating to "normal Iowans" and innovative cuisine, making compromises to neither. Things like "sausage en croûte" (sausage wrapped in puff pastry) tone down the menu, and then the pendulum swings outward with items like burrata (mozzarella, butternut squash compote, balsamic mushrooms), boursin-stuffed dates, and scallops with horseradish marmalade. I should've taken a picture of my nearly-licked-clean plates (everything ordered was legitimately delightful, and if you read this blog, you know that's the truth), but I'll have to settle for this:
Seriously want it right now. Again. All the time. In my face. And what's more, the prices are reasonable — for $15, you'll get a plate easily worth $30 anywhere else. These aren't the two-bite tapas you see in most "shared plate" establishments, either — luckily, these people are still Iowans. What you see above is one tasty, tasty pastry of nine.
But in an effort to be genuine and not all 'omg-its-so-amazing!!!!', I do have one note of disapproval: There's no coffee. C'MON, LBB. We have NEEDS.
But before you leave to go grab your PSL elsewhere, don't forget the mother-effin' bonbons. It'll be the best $2 you'll ever spend, and that includes the Target $1 section. The flavors change daily, and if they're anything like the s'mores version, they'll be so good they'll take the pain away of Election 2016.
Chyeah. That's right. And off to the side, that's the licked-clean plate.
The Ladora Bank Bistro can be found here; reservations are recommended. Though I did futz around and take pictures, LBB has no idea I'm writing this. I wish I got free bonbons, but alas, I did not.