Scott Miller, Owner
“Not only did I want to build the best bar in Oak Forest,” he says “I wanted to create a place that I would want to come to every day.” Miller, who spent years as the well-respected sommelier at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, is more than a bartender, owner, and host. He is a visionary and devoted Oak Forest resident bent on bringing his brand of experience to the neighborhood.“We have people in flip-flops come sit on the patio and relax but we also have couples on date nights. We’re the neighborhood spot.”
Kala Dunn, Chef
Chef Kala Dunn has led the Plonk! kitchen since 2015. Her inventive menu reflect her passion for creativity, which is rooted equally in her love of food and her background as a creative writer. As a former university professor, her approach to leading a professional kitchen emphasizes education and personal development. From freshly made baked pasta to hand-cut steaks to seasonal specials, Chef Kala’s menu highlights her love of high-quality ingredients and wine-friendly food.
Seasonal dinner menu | Stone oven pizzas | wine
Small plates | Craft beer | Expansive patio
Created by Scott Miller, the former wine director of Pappa’s Steak House, Plonk is a laid-back bar serving up house and exotic wines, as well as a quality selection of beer. As a longtime Oak Forest resident, Scott Miller, who says in creating Plonk! he sought “to make the perfect neighborhood bar…especially for Oak Forest.” In fact, Mr. Miller explains that he employed local artisans, craftsmen and merchants exclusively during the design and construction of Plonk! No surprise when talking to the cerebral Miller who meticulously planned and executed every single aspect of his North Heights incarnation.
Even the name Plonk! was very carefully chosen. Plonk is British slang for cheap wine. More than merely “cheap” wine, it is more truly evocative of thoughts of swill – the very bottom-of-the-barrel juice that was all but forgotten (and certainly neglected) during production. But Miller, a self-described wordsmith, “loves the word and its onomatopoeia.” Admittedly, it is fun to say and quite easy to remember. But even more effective is the juxtaposition created when one compares the mental images conjured by the word plonk to the finely conceived and executed bar that is Plonk! Beer and Wine Bistro. Of course, that is also no accident.
Plonk! – located at the edge of Oak Forest near Garden Oaks – is easily one of the most enjoyable venues just north of the city. A classy, upscale atmosphere geared toward the residents of the neighborhood who enjoy savoring fine beer and wine with company in a clean, comfortable and safe setting.
In every detail there is a demonstration of Miller’s perfectionist nature. The former wine director at the renowned Pappas’ Steak House has spared no expense in bringing his dream to fruition. Every wine – from the simplest house wine to the most exotic selection – is at all times cellared in a glass library held at the optimum temperature of 55 degrees. The beers are also treated with love and stored in a specially designed cooler with a frosty holding temperature of 31.8 degrees.
The architecture of the bar also reflects Miller’s mindful diligence. From the soothing granite bar top – once part of an actual riverbed – smoothed by running waters and lifted from nature to form Plonk’scenterpiece to the impressive stone pizza hearth to the hand-laid hickory plank floors. Plonk! is progressive without being impersonal. The bar is spacious and intimate in the same moment, and the expansive patios are delight to enjoy when the weather allows.
The beer-and-wine list is equally well conceived. Every palate – and budget – is accommodated, whether you are an enophile or prefer a refreshing brew. An eclectic mix of tradition and hidden gems, the list will change with the seasons, mirroring the natural evolution of wine itself. Mr. Miller confidently intimates that his list will always have something for every taste and promises to help you discover your new favorite if you don’t find what you thought you were looking for.
A food menu changes by the season and sources local, fresh ingredients when possible. From 72-hour Pork Chops to brick oven Pizza, their culinary goal is to enhance “the Plonk! experience” for fans and followers. In the meantime, Miller and chef Kala Dunn satisfy eager crowds on all fronts and event host outdoor music concerts from time to time. A must see!