Rick's Reviews: Grape Expectations

Cooper’s Hawk. Photo via Facebook

When a restaurant is also a winery, the wine better be good, and at Cooper’s Hawk it is. So good in fact that you’ll be surprised to find the winery is in Illinois, located just a couple of hours drive from Chicago. 

With wines to equal those of Northern California, Cooper’s Hawk has a lot for which to be proud. However, for most folks the food will be the focus of attention, and on that end, it’s equally up to the task. While the food isn’t fancy, it is well prepared and tasty, for the most part. 

Located above P.F. Chang’s in the Galleria Mall, one can enter from the mall or via a private elevator at street level. The window seats offer a view of the constant parade of arrivals and departures. We placed our order with our excellent server Mina and sipped wine as we waited for our appetizers to arrive. 

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Minutes later there was a back waiter with our first app, a tuna sashimi platter. I knew we were in trouble as soon as I touched the plate. It was warm, like, fresh out of the dishwasher warm. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal, but raw fish on a warm plate is not a good combination. Sashimi should always be served chilled. The change in temperature affected not only the taste, but the texture of the fish. When the dish was removed, the back waiter didn’t ask why much of the dish was untouched. 

This was a consistent problem throughout the meal, the folks delivering the food weren’t at the same level as our server. Dishes were brought to a table for two and delivered to the wrong person, or worse yet, “auctioned off.” At an establishment at the level of Cooper’s Hawk it is inexcusable. That being said, for the rest of the meal, the food was delicious and well-prepared.

The deviled eggs and toast appetizer wasn’t at all what I expected; a few deviled eggs on toast points. Instead it was presented as a mound of egg salad with hearty slices of toasted baguette. Instead of the dainty appetizer, it proved to be enough for a light supper or a filling lunch. It was so tasty that we gobbled every bit of it down. Things were beginning to look up.

For our next course we shared a soup and salad combo. I ordered the excellent wedge, a perfect example of the classic, with crumbled blue cheese and bacon, while my hubby enjoyed a cup of the lobster bisque. 

Cooper’s Hawk offers some high-end chops and steaks and grilled seafood on the entrée portion of the menu. My hubby loved the barramundi filet. The menu has a sort of “choose your own adventure” aspect allowing you to pick different options to create your own surf and turf combo. 

I chose the exotic sounding Asian pork paired with bacon wrapped shrimp. The shrimp were a tad over-cooked (a chance one takes when pairing with bacon), but tasty. The pork was not what expected at all. I pictured a version of Chinese barbecue pork it was, instead, a chop crusted with Asian spices. It was delightful surprise, moist and warming without being too spicy. The portions were so generous, we each took more than half our entrée home.

By the time desserts came we had a stack of left-over containers, so we should have passed. However, I thought I’d take a peek at the offerings and my self-control melted away faster than an ice cream cone on a Fort Lauderdale summer day. My husband was able to make his way half-way through the banana-toffee sundae, while I did some major damage to the caramel banana bread pudding.

For oenophiles there are all sorts of programs including a wine club which all sound quite tempting. 

Cooper’s Hawk

2568 E. Sunrise, Fort Lauderdale

754-755-9463

chwinery.com 

Wine & Dine

While Cooper’s Hawk may be one of the few restaurants in the area to boast its own winery, that doesn’t mean it’s the only place focusing on wine. Here are a few other wine-centric options.

33rd St. Wine Bar

3337 NE 33rd St., Fort Lauderdale

954-566-2111

33rdstreetwinebar.com

Casa DAngelo

1201 N Federal, Fort Lauderdale

954-564-1234

casa-d-angelo.com

Café Vico

1125 N Federal, Fort Lauderdale

954-565-9681

cafevicorestaurant.com


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