Find the Perfect Pairing at Cooper’s Hawk
Aug 28, 2017 06:02PM ● Published by Kevin
Photo courtesy of Cooper's Hawk.
Gallery: Culinary - Cooper's Hawk - September/October 2017 [5 Images] Click any image to expand.
When people first walk in, most are amazed by the size of the tasting room. It’s full of wine, gourmet food items and trinkets geared toward oenophiles. The tasting bar can accommodate big crowds and is a popular spot for birthday parties and pre-dining congregating.
While the tasting room certainly is unique to Southwest Florida, it’s the restaurant that seals the deal. Designed to bring the outdoors in, with lots of natural lighting, the design of this more than 10,000-square-foot space is contemporary rustic.
The ginger soy-glazed New York strip is another crowd pleaser. The center cut is marinated for an hour in a machine called the tumbler; prongs hold the meat, gently tossing it in the marinade before it’s grilled.
The gnocchi is made from ricotta instead of potato and is sautéed, resulting in a lighter consistency than what is served at most restaurants. It comes with roasted butternut squash in savory sage-brown butter cream or in a hearty Bolognese with braised short ribs.
For an appetizer, the Mexican Drunken Shrimp is perfect for sharing, if you can surrender the plate. They are bacon wrapped and served in a tequila lime butter sauce with guacamole.
There are dozens of wines on the menu and special selections in the tasting room every month. It can be overwhelming to a first-, even second-time diner. That’s where Cooper’s Hawk elevates the dining experience by taking the guesswork out. Wine-pairing suggestions are offered for every single menu item, including the desserts. You can also order wine flights: four small pours of red, white, sparkling and more to taste side by side.
Dessert wines include those made from fruits other than grapes, as well as an ice wine and a port-style red; it goes nicely with the s’more budino. Reminiscent of childhood, a thick layer of toasted marshmallow caps a clear glass full of caramel custard, Valrhona chocolate mousse and brown-butter toasted graham cracker. It’s insanely sweet.
Not only does the staff go through extensive training, Chef Yarnell says, “We have family mealtime where we talk about flavors, the menu, selling points. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”
Cooper’s Hawk is the creation of Tim McEnery. He got the idea for the venture during a tasting at a small boutique winery outside of Chicago with his future wife. McEnery remembers, “They brought in grapes from California and Washington, and I thought, ‘Too bad they don’t have a restaurant here; that would be kinda cool.’ That was the genesis of the idea.”
McEnery searches wine regions worldwide, sourcing grapes for the Cooper’s Hawk brand. It’s not just served in the tasting rooms and restaurants, but also purchased monthly by members of the popular wine club.
The entrepreneur says he traveled to Naples 25 times over the course of a couple of years, looking for “the right corner” to expand. It was a good decision, according to McEnery, who says, “This is our 22nd restaurant, and by far it’s the most buzz we’ve ever had.”
For as large as the restaurant is, it stays booked; reservations are suggested.
Cooper’s Hawk celebrates its 12-year anniversary this October. There are now eight restaurants across the Sunshine State, nearly 30 nationwide.
Monday – Thursday: 11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 11:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Monday – Thursday: 11:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 11:00 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.