We have been wanting to try Louie's Wine Dive since it opened last summer - we finally had the chance to stop in last week. Located at 4040 University in Des Moines, Louie's is in the former Iowa Bakery Cafe location in the strip mall near HyVee. Louie's Wine Dive has gotten a lot of press, won some local accolades, and been raved about by area food writers, so we were hoping it would live up to the hype.
The space has lots of dark wood and a nice, large bar, along with several large tables. We were there on a Thursday night and the place was hoppin', so I would assume there would be a wait on the weekends. We decided to sit at the bar for a cocktail and ended up staying there through dinner.
I had a Dark & Stormy - a wonderful concoction of Meyer's Dark Rum, Ginger Beer, and lime juice. Perfectly frosty in a copper mug.
Grant went with the classic Manhattan - mmmm, bourbon.
The menu at Louie's Wine Dive is mix of creative dishes - some dressed up comfort food, some more on the fancy side. You'll find everything from Lobster and Shrimp Mac 'n Cheese and Braised Beef Short Ribs, to Flatbreads, pastas, and a great appetizer selection.
We started with the Cheese Flight - we enjoyed an aged gouda, Prairie Breeze, and a soft cow's milk cheese along with their parmesan lavash crackers, cornichons, roasted tomatoes, and an apricot jam. Everything was fresh and flavorful, and it was the perfect size for an appetizer.
The wine list at Louie's is pretty impressive. Many wines by the glass and some interesting bottles that you don't see elsewhere in town. It was nice to see that they will open any bottle they have if you commit to purchasing 2 glasses.
We decided on a bottle from Dry Creek Vinyard, their 2008 Meritage. We visited this winery several years ago on a week long trip through Napa and Sonoma and it was one of our favorites. It was a little pricey for us, $48, but well worth the splurge.
For dinner, Grant ordered the Porchetta - a pork shoulder stuffed with La Quercia prosciutto and fresh herbs then braised in white wine. It was served with drunken carrots and broccolini coins and finished with a fontina cream sauce. It was so tender, seriously melted in your mouth. Great pork flavor, cooked perfectly. He really enjoyed this dish.
At the suggestion of our excellent bartender, Nick, I went with the 4 Pork Gnocchi - La Quercia prosciutto, pork shoulder, ground pork, and Italian sausage slow cooked in red wine and cream and served over pan seared gnocchi. Seriously creamy, this is a ragu at it's finest. The pork flavors melded well together and the slight crunch of the seared gnocchi was a treat. Very tasty.
We were too stuffed for dessert, but there looked to be several items we would have enjoyed just as much as our dinners. Next time. There were so many wonderful appetizers, that I'm thinking a wine, appetizer and dessert 'dinner' would work for our next visit. We really enjoyed our experience at Louie's Wine Dive and were happy it lived up to the expectations we had going in. It's a great addition to the Des Moines dining scene.
Louie's Wine Dive
4040 University Ave., Suite A
Des Moines, IA 50311
Monday 4p - 11p
Tuesday & Wednesday 11a - 11p
Thursday - Saturday 11a - 2a
Saturday Brunch 9a - 3p
Sunday Brunch 9a - 2p
Menus and more information at www.louieswinedive.com