Monday, September 11, 2017

Bank Bistro

Perhaps a year ago, we saw this restaurant showcased on a local PBS show about ingredients that are grown around our state. We made a note to visit it sometime and then forgot about it until recently when we saw it once again on the same show. Since it happened to be a holiday weekend, we called and they were open so we made reservations and hit the road.

It was only an hour and a half drive, about the same as driving to the urban jungle, so we didn't mind. The town itself is largely dead town with only residential places showing any life. There was a gas station and post office but other than that, everything but the bank was boarded up and deserted, including the silos above. They just grabbed my fancy so I had to take a picture. If this were a thriving town, I might have made an offer on them and turned them into a unique mansion.

The two partners of this restaurant bought a bank and literally turned it into a restaurant, leaving all the bank details in place. There are only maybe a dozen small tables in the entire place so seating was very limited and it filled up immediately upon opening which made be extremely glad for our reservation.

The concept of this restaurant amazed me. It was essentially served tapas on steroids family style. So instead of getting little appetizers, you got enough to go around the table but still served tapas style, i.e. they came as they were ready and not all at once. As a result, they might make up three or four meat and cheese platters seen above and send them out to three different tables and then start working on the next round. Their menu only had about twelve items to choose from so the chances of having multiple orders of each item were high. My favorite on this platter was the spice meat on the lower right with the wedge of mustard seed laced cheese right next to it with one of the pickled red tomato looking peppers all on toasted bread. One of the more unusual but very tasty things on the platter was the pinkish pile in the upper left. It was feta cheese creamed together with beets. I had never thought to do something like that but man it was out of the world good. The little squares of fruit pate were also unique and tasty.

Our first dish was actually lamb ka-bobs with a tomato sauce served with toasted points and a cucumber sauce. It was so delicious that we forgot to take a picture. Above, our third dish was shrimp scampy that we spooned up onto our toasted bread pieces and ate. It tasted as good as it looks.

Our final dish was the dish shown on our local PBS show that got us interested in going to this place, pork belly tacos with pickled red onions on top among other things. They were great as well but definitely not as much of a delight to my taste buds as the meat and cheese platter which we mainly just ordered for the kids but they refused to touch. In the end, they mostly just ate the toasted bread while the rest of us at everything else.

It was worth the stop and we now have another place to stop on date night. The only problem is that there is nothing here to do after eating except drive back home or onto another destination.


Susan said...

That is so cool! It's so nice to see an abandoned building repurposed in such a local-friendly way. I am in total awe of that feta-beet concoction! I think I may have to make it myself.

Kelly said...

What a fun, quirky way to utilize an old building! The food looks great, though I find the color of the feta/beet stuff a bit off-putting.

I think the stone silos are pretty neat, too - not something I've ever seen in these parts.

Bob said...

Making an old bank building into something different like a restaurant or bar seems to be a trend and not just in the U.S. I saw several on my recent trip to Ireland and had an excellent lunch in one in Dublin. I'm making an educated guess that this is becoming more prevalent as banks reduce their brick and mortar presences as more customers do their banking from computers and mobile devices. And certainly the old architecture and fixtures lend themselves to interesting ambience.

Ed said...

Susan - It was very tasty!

Kelly - Being partially colorblind, I guess I didn't notice it being off-putting. The taste certainly set aside any doubts!

Bob - Those old banks were certainly built to stand for ages as well!

Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly) said...

Sounds like a super cool place being in bank building and the farm to table type places always have such great tasting food.
I LOVE that style of a meal where stuff comes out as it's made. It just seems so relaxed and you can really enjoy it. And don't even get me started on a charcuterie board!! That one looks amazing.

Leigh said...

The food looks really good and the "atmosphere" unique. Okay, strange! Sounds like it will be a hit for a restaurant.

Ed said...

Pumpkin Delight - It was nice and relaxing but also limited clientele especially with very limited seating. We were there for over two hours before we walked out the door.

Leigh - I hope it survives though it is in a tiny boarded up town with nothing going on for it. It survives only as a destination eatery.

sage said...

Neat concept for the restuarant, but I wonder if any of our fisherman have to worry about Iowa Shrimp? The building is also incredible and what could those old silos be used for?

Ed said...

Sage - I asked and they use local when available but here in Iowa, shrimp are never in season for some reason so they buy those elsewhere.

As for the silo, I'm guessing it might have been a grain or feed silo at some point. Those type of silos were common next to food manufacturing plants where they needed several different types of grains, flours, etc stored that they could measure out in quantities for their batches. Since whatever was attached is long gone, I will have to just guess that was what it was.