The 1884 Food & Spirits Bank in Port Austin


What do you get if you take a bunch of minced corned beef, add some Swiss cheese and sauerkraut and sandwich between two pieces of rustic marbled rye bread toasted to perfection? This week’s featured meal for Grabbing Grub with Nunn.

Continuing on the way to delicious Huron County cuisine, I ventured down the thumb and into the beautiful town of Port Austin.

I’ve visited Port Austin on a number of occasions but didn’t take the opportunity to have dinner there, so having the chance to do so on the boss’s dime seemed like the perfect time.

Nunn’s lunch was a reuben sandwich, served with homemade chips and an onion petal side.

Now some of the restaurants that have piqued my interest in the past are not open for lunch which limits some of my options, but one place I was dying to try was The Bank 1884 Food & Spirits. I even wrote about my interest in visiting the establishment a little over a year ago when the governor canceled some orders.

The theme of The Bank is just that, a bank. You walk into the facade and apart from the dummy window facade it feels like stepping back in time due to the brick walls, high ceiling and rich woodwork.

Without knowing anything about the business or the building, I felt that the owners of this establishment loved the community and surrounding communities because of the historical images that lined the walls. These images showed some of the roots of the communities in Huron County.

After opting for an indoor seat, I found myself staring at a beautiful patio which, for the rest of the lunch, made me question my decision to dine inside.

Before I even grabbed the menu, I knew I was craving a sandwich, but when making important choices like what to eat for lunch, I think carefulness is essential.

The lunch menu at The Bank begins with appetizers like cheese curds, onion petals, artichoke dip, and avocado hummus. After the appetizers you will find soups and salads with a very unique sound – like the Maurice, which includes iceberg lettuce, ham, turkey, Swiss, green olives, pickles and a hard-boiled egg – as well as traditional dishes like a chicken Caesar.

I flipped the menu to find the section I was looking for: sandwiches and burgers.

Now you all know I’m a burger fan, and my eyes were immediately drawn to the last item on the menu, the Ultimate Burger. The Ultimate Burger includes half a pound of Angus on a brioche bun with peanut butter, bacon and cheddar cheese. I had never heard of such a thing, and although it was tempting, I couldn’t bring myself to jump.

I was also considering the Dilly Turkey Melt, which promised thin slices of turkey, dill pickle chips, and Santa Fe sauce on rye bread. It was an extremely temporary option, but during my review of the list I saw something else I wanted from St. Patty’s – a good Reuben sandwich. The Reuben sandwich is perhaps the third best use of corned beef, falling only slightly behind a homemade corned beef hash, and the best part of a Reuben for me is the rye and sauerkraut combo.

Almost every Reuben I’ve ordered comes with a Thousand Island dressing, so I was delighted to see The Bank gave it a bit of a shake, serving the sandwich instead with the signature Vault sauce. I recognized the name of this sauce from the onion petal order I slipped into, and although I found it much nicer than the usual Thousand Islands, I still opted for so that my Reuben is served naked.

The onions inside the petals were deliciously sweet, and when combined with the dough on the outside, they had a great flavor combination. The Vault sauce was good, it had a bit of sweetness and maybe would have had a bit of heat, but if it was, I didn’t notice it.

Shortly after placing my order, I glanced at a nearby table and saw the drinks menu. The drinks menu obviously advertised the drinks, but what caught my eye were actually the four signs that spoke of defining moments in Huron County history. The subjects told stories related to prohibition, logging and shipping.

My first impressions of the Reuben were made by biting into the perfectly crispy slices of rye bread. I can’t put my finger on the exact difference from bread, but the best I can describe is that it was a bit more airy and had more texture than your usual marbled rye. My next bite, I hit a perfect stack of rye, beef, sauerkraut and cheese and it delivered the exact flavor I expected. While this sandwich was an improvement over a more traditional Reuben restaurant, it also offered enough familiarity to be considered a comfort food. Each bite offered the same pleasure as the first and it didn’t take long to go through the first half of the sandwich. I was impressed when I took my second half of the sandwich and found the bread to be still crisp and able to take the weight.

Accompanying my sandwich, in addition to the fried onion petals I ordered, there was a nice handful of homemade chips. I certainly didn’t need to eat the crisps, but I’m doing it for you, so I felt like doing it. The fries were thin, crispy and tasted like a good potato. They weren’t too salty which is a challenge I’ve seen other establishments struggle with in the past.

I luckily finished my sandwich, but despite my best efforts, I couldn’t finish the chips or the petals, so I asked for a container to go for later.

Between the food, the service and the setting at The Bank, it certainly makes me curious about the dining options.

Last name: La Banque 1884 Food & Spirits

Location: 8646 Lake St, Port Austin, MI 48467

Call: 989-738-5353

Meal: Money Reuben – corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, marbled rye bread – with onion petals for the aperitif and a cola to drink.

Total cost excluding tip: $ 27.80

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