Best Bites: Cooper’s Hawk going gangbusters

Jeff Keast, of Bourbonnais, and I share a love of good wine and good food. We’re constantly comparing notes about our favorite restaurants. Last week, Jeff and his wife, Jenny, invited Glenn and Lynn Nixon, and my husband, Dave, and I to one of his favorite places — Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant in Orland Park.

We began the evening with a wine tasting. We sampled eight different varieties, but my favorite was the cranberry fruit wine — tart, sweet and with a just hint of cinnamon. A bottle came home with me.

For appetizers, we enjoyed a bottle of fruity plum wine with delicious handmade crab cakes and Mexican drunken shrimp with a delicate tequila-lime butter sauce. We also tried the caprese — ripe tomatoes, Mozzarella cheese, red onion, pesto and julienne basil with a balsamic glaze.

Each of us ordered something different for a main course. The maple, mustard and pretzel-crusted pork medallions were scrumptious, very tender with just a slight sweet-salty flavor. They were served with Mary’s potatoes, which were like a twice baked potato without the skin, and fresh (yes, fresh) asparagus tips. A trio of filet medallions (horseradish, bleu cheese and Parmesan-crusted) also came with Mary’s potatoes and asparagus. The New York strip steak was cooked to perfection. We enjoyed a beautiful Romance red wine with our entrees.

For dessert, we shared a wonderful creme brulee, chocolate mousse cake with ganache and vanilla ice cream, and a Reese’s ice cream cookie with peanut butter cups and vanilla ice cream.

Although the food and wine are scrumptious, I was interested in the restaurant and its owner, Tim McEnery. He opened the first winery and restaurant in 2005 at the Orland Park location and now has opened 11 additional Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant locations in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin and, most recently, Florida. McEnery expects an additional four to seven units to be in development through 2014.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant is at 15690 S. Harlem Ave., Orland Park. Hours for the tasting room are Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Phone 708-633-0200 for reservations, and check out the website, coopershawkwinery.com, for other locations, a wine list and menus.

Best Bites appears every Friday in The Daily Journal. Tinker Parker can be reached at 815-802-5101, at bestbites@daily-journal.com, or follow her on Facebook at Facebook.com/TDJBestBites.

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