Normally, I’m at every restaurant opening the second they unlock the doors (and occasionally sooner, because I’m obnoxious like that). Somehow, I missed the early days of Louie’s Wine Dive in Uptown. I had the impression that it was wine only, possibly a new construction attempt at a dive and most likely a total chain-y drag. Imagine my shock to find out I was wrong on all accounts when I grabbed a breezy, light lunch there with a few of my favorite day drinking ladies last week.
First of all, it’s not a dive. The room is wide open, warm and comfortable. While they are a part of a restaurant group with several locations, the chef is a Minneapolis guy who has worked at several local restaurants including at the Dakota under Jack Riebel. The menu is evolving to include more of his inspired dishes and a few less of the buzzword-heavy stuff.
Most shocking to me, they have a full bar! The cocktail list is stacked with classics, including a cherry-mahogany colored Manhattan. For those who have only just begun to consider dipping a toe into the brown booze department, the bourbon inside this low-ball lovely is a smooth caramel walk on the dark side. The silky texture of the spirit is further softened by gentle maraschino cherry sweetness. This version of the Manhattan is the perfect transitional cocktail for anyone who wants to explore a new favorite. If you’re usually a rum fan, this is the entre to the next level of sophistication. But, for the experienced Manhattan imbiber, it’s still familiar enough and near to the traditional take to keep us sipping.
And it’s at Louie’s Wine Dive. Who knew?