Pinot Noir and Pork Shoulder

Food + Wine Pairings Worth a Weeknight Out

For those who are not familiar with Overland Park’s Louie’s Wine Dive, they might get the wrong idea thanks to the connotation of a “dive” bar. While wine is synonymous with class, refinement and the patient chemistry of fermentation, a dive might call to mind dim lights, low ceilings and even lower menu expectations. But one visit would correct any misconception of this culinary experience. 

Louie’s Wine Dive is where culinary culture meets Midwest relaxation. While each restaurant expresses individuality in its seasonal dishes and cocktails, the restaurant resting on the corner of 119th street near Nall Ave., stands apart. 

“The (Overland Park) location is generally considered the flagship of the concepts for the Louie Wine Dive enterprise,” says Ryan Miller, the restaurant's management partner and beverage director. “We take great wine and food and make it approachable and non-pretentious.” 

Miller and his staff are unceasingly creating fresh cocktails to add to the bar’s blackboard and sniffing out new bottles of wine to add to their collection.  

“We use a little wine in all of our (cocktails),” Miller explains. “We do that because we want to marry our wine drinkers with our cocktail enthusiasts. It’s a way to slowly bring everyone into the wine-dive experience.”

What Ryan Miller is to the creation of wine and spirit cocktails, Executive Chef Thomas Pelkey is to the from-scratch menu. Pelkey coordinates with local farmers and visits local Farmers’ Markets weekly to hunt down the fresh, seasonal ingredients needed for his menu. Pelkey began pursuing culinary artistry as a teenager and has always felt especially inspired by Mexican cuisine and cooking techniques. 

“Everything is about balance,” Pelkey reveals. “Too much spice or too much acidity will throw off the wine. But then, some wines need acidity. Some need fat. It’s all about seasonality and balance.”

It’s only by accident that the enterprise's lead beverage director and top executive chef share the same work space, but the result feels nothing short of grand design. While Miller is pouring up an Old Fashioned mixed with brandy and champagne, Pelkey is roasting poblano peppers with cinnamon to serve alongside hanger steak and sea salt fries. There is a little something for everyone to enjoy and that audience will only broaden as Miller and Pelkey continue to collaborate and brainstorm.

Customer favorites include dishes such as the cheese and charcuterie board served with house-made bacon jam. The four-pork gnocchi served in a wine-tomato sauce is aptly named, made with bacon, Italian sausage, prosciutto and pork shoulder and slices of fresh baguette. Seafood enthusiasts would do well to try the small plate shrimp tacos marinated in chipotle sauce garnished with pickled red onion, fresh avocado and crisp cilantro centered on delicate corn tortillas. 

The expertly balanced meals are set off perfectly by intelligently paired wine choices. And for those who have a hard time choosing, there is always the ever-popular flight of wines. 

Louie’s Wine Dive in Overland Park also hosts monthly wine events to give customers an even more unique dining experience beyond the ever-evolving menu. The Restaurant is scheduled to host an “Evening in Gascony” in November. 

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