Entrees at upscale Cooper’s Hawk operation more convincing than wines

By  Jon Christensen For The Columbus Dispatch

Jonathan Quilter | DISPATCH

The first Cooper’s Hawk operation in Ohio has landed at Easton Town Center. A huge amount of floor space is devoted to an upscale-decor bar and retail area centered on the Illinois company’s wines. That area leads to the well-appointed dining room.

The Caesar salad ($5.99) is made with chopped romaine. A pleasant dressing is reinforced with grated Parmesan-style cheese and slivers of aged Asiago cheese. The lavash flatbread triangles are nicely herbed.

Another chopped interpretation — this time of a wedge salad ($6.99) — uses wine vinaigrette as well as a traditional blue-cheese dressing. Adding interest are bacon, grape tomatoes and good-quality blue cheese.

One of the virtues of the berry and greens salad ($5.99) is a restrained hand with the raspberry vinaigrette that lightly coats the designer greens, dried cherries, candied walnuts and thin slices of Asian pear.

Although billed as an appetizer, the Mexican drunken shrimp ($12.99) can easily serve as a light entree. The large shrimp are wrapped tightly with bacon and grilled briefly. They’re served on small mounds of fresh guacamole and given a buttery lime sauce with a trace of tequila.

The convincing entrees include braised beef short ribs atop risotto ($20.99). The meat has a slow-roasted flavor and texture. The risotto, which is made with carnaroli rice, is made with a decent meat stock and well-sauteed button mushrooms reinforced with plenty of truffle oil.

A grouper fillet is served roasted with a real pistachio crust ($25.99) and accompanied by unusually good, perfectly cooked asparagus stalks. A scoop of mashed potatoes has an authentic potato flavor and not too much richness.

The seafood cannelloni ($22.99) has shrimp and scallop slices and ricotta cheese tucked into pasta shells and given a rich sauce spiced lightly with chicken chorizo and ancho peppers. The filling, flavorful dish shows originality.

Another entree with a flavorful sauce is Lynn’s Asian pork ($19.99). Lean pork tenderloin slices are bathed in a sweet, enticing mix of soy, garlic, sesame oil and ginger. Puzzlingly, the plain meat doesn’t pick up much flavor from the sauce.

The accompanying wasabi mashed potatoes are rich, full of potato flavor and have a large dab of wasabi in the middle for spice. The stir-fried green beans and sweet peppers on the side taste fresh, not frozen.

Desserts are said to be large enough to share. That’s certainly true of “banoffee,” one of the featured offerings ($6.99). Think of a graham-cracker crust with sliced bananas inside, nicely blanketed in a sweet caramel sauce that’s hard to resist. Even the huge amount of whipped cream belongs.

The apple pie ($6.99) uses apple slices that taste as if they’ve been marinated in lemon juice.

The acidity helps balance the high sugar level of the tart-sized pie.Visitors can get any wine they want as long as it bears the Cooper’s Hawk name. The company claims to make dozens of wine types using grapes sourced from undocumented areas of the Pacific coast states.

The unhelpful descriptions speak of all kinds of flavor analogs, with only an occasional mention of structure — the most important aspect of choosing a wine to go with food.The best thing about the whole wine shtick is the willingness to give small tastes, with no obligation.The “pinot noir” tasted like flavored alcohol, with no discernible varietal character.

For that matter, the “unoaked chardonnay” ($7.25), which had adequate acidity for accompanying food — even rich food — had little chardonnay flavor or aroma.

The current “barrel reserve” ($8.75), however, which was described as a red Bordeaux blend, did have a convincing aroma and taste. Consider making that one of the prime choices when a dry red is needed. Or try the “Cooper’s Hawk red blend” of cabernet sauvignon and merlot ($6.75), which also shows better balance than most of the others, including the alcoholic “Barbera” ($8.50).

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Good Eats: Over 25 New Restaurants Opened in Columbus in 2012

Columbus Underground (columbusunderground.com) By: Walker

While not quite as robust of a list as what 2011 yielded, 2012 was still a great year for new additions to the Columbus dining scene. Options range from affordable to upscale in locations spread all throughout the region. Below is a roundup of restaurants that opened in the past year. Leave us a comment below if we missed something and we’ll add it to the list!

More Food for Downtowners

Downtown Columbus continued to see many new restaurants open without a whole lot of closings. The Gallerie Bar & Bistro opened inside the new Hilton Hotel. Chef Paul Yow left Barcelona to launch the new Natalie’s on South Fourth Street. The Columbus Food League’s opened The Grass Skirt Tiki Room this year, their sixth restaurant to date. Manifesto opened adjacent to the Ohio Statehouse offering a new place for italian dining and scotch sipping. The long awaited Zen Cha Tea Salon opened their Downtown location on Gay Street. Barrio closed on High Street and re-opened as the somewhat similar Madrid restaurant. The Inn Between changed management and features a transitioning menu and decor. The 89 Fish & Grill replaced Michael O’Tooles near the Convention Center. And last but not least, El Camino Inn opened next door to Little Palace.

Gourmet Pizza VS Gourmet Burgers

The number of gourmet pizza restaurants continued to grow in 2012 with the opening of a few noteworthy suburban restaurant. Pies & Pints expanded to Worthington by way of West Virginia. Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza also made its debut in Worthington with their unique coal-fired pizza ovens, as the name implies. Dewey’s also expanded to Worthington, opening their second Central Ohio store. Reynoldsburg also gained their own gourmet pizza show with Pie’s Bistro, which launched this summer. And while the “gourmet burger wars” may only be heating up with the addition of Flip Side at Easton, there are a few new burger-centric restaurants plan

ned in the near future.

The Near West Side and Far West Side

Two new significant openings occurred on the west side; one closer to Downtown and the other way out on the far side. The former is Dinin’ Hall, the food truck pod that offers brick and mortar amenities to mobile food fans who don’t want to stand while they eat. The latter is the Columbus Hollywood Casino, which technically boasts four restaurants under one roof: Final Cut (an upscale steak and seafood restaurant), Epic Buf

fet (a buffet dining room), O.H. (a sports bar and entertainment lounge) and Take 2 Grill (a grab-and-go food station).

Drink-Centric Dining

A number of new restaurants opened in 2012 where beer or wine are at the center of the experience, but food is not necessarily an afterthought. That includes the new 101 Beer Kitchen gastropub in Dublin, Cooper’s Hawk Winery at Easton, the Barrel Wine Bar in Upper Arlington and The Tavern in Olde Towne East.

We’re Expanding to Gahanna”

We’re not quite sure why, but Gahanna has become the go-to spot for local restaurants to make their second move. Downtown favorite El Arepazo opened up location numero dos in the historic area of Gahanna. The newer fast-casual Asian concept Fresh 50 followed suit with a Gahanna area expansion this year. And while Holy Smoke has maintained a Gahanna presence with their to-go retail store, they decided to convert it to a full blown restaurant this year to compliment their North Market options.

Miscellaneous Eats

The Whole Foods Dublin store relaunched one of their in-store restaurants as The Local, a gastropub featuring many local products to eat and drink. Yabo’s Tacos opened their second store, this time in Upper Arlington, with an eye on many more in the near future. Till Dynamic Fare was born out of the seed of Dragonfly Neo-V and has been celebrated year long by local diners. Cafe Istanbul decided to get into the fast casual game by opening Pera near the Ohio State University. And for dessert, Whit’s Frozen Custard expanded to The Short North earlier this year.

What was your favorite new restaurant of 2012?

Gallerie Bistro Photo by Walker Evans. Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza Photo by Jennifer René. Cooper’s Hawk Winery Photo by Briana Gunter. Till Dynamic Fare Photo by Chris Walker.

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What’s Cookin with Toni?

The lastest editions of “What’s Cookin’ with Toni” feature Easton’s newest establishment, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant.  Located in the North District near Nordstrom, this casual but elegant atmosphere is paired with fine food including Gnocchi Carbonara and Maple Mustard Pretzel Crusted Pork, two of the dishes Toni learns about.

Watch as Chef Matt McMillin prepares these dishes and get the recipe for Gnocchi Carbonara and Maple Mustard Pretzel Crusted Pork to make at home!

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On Restaurants – Fresh off the vine

On Restaurants | Fresh off the vine

Cooper’s Hawk combines tasting room with fine dining, gift store

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By  Denise Trowbridge For The Columbus Dispatch Tuesday November 6, 2012 6:32 AM

Four years in the making, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant opened yesterday at 4230 The Strand in Easton Town Center.

“We’ve been coming to Columbus for four years, looking at sites and trying to get something done,” said Tim McEnery, founder of the Illinois-based restaurant group.

Each Cooper’s Hawk blends fine food with casual but elegant surroundings in a combination restaurant, full-service bar, Napa-style wine-tasting room and gift store.

The focus is on pairing food with wines, many of which are made at Cooper’s Hawk Winery in Illinois.

“The concept is modern, casual, upscale. We are wine-heavy, with a tasting-room experience, but we try to keep the menu and the wine approachable, from both an affordability standpoint and the diversity of menu items,” McEnery said. The food and wine “are very appealing to the novice as well as sophisticated wine consumers.”

The menu is comprehensive, encompassing several pages of appetizers, soups, salads, entrees and desserts.

Appetizers include Asian barbecued pork belly nachos, with scallions, sesame seeds, radish and sweet chili barbecue sauce; sweet chili calamari, featuring a mango-chili-ponzu sauce; and Thai lettuce wraps with soy-glazed chicken, julienned vegetables and a peanut, cashew and soy glaze. Appetizer prices range from $8.99 to $12.99.

Entrees include blackened, bacon-wrapped sea scallops in a tarragon wine-butter sauce; short-rib risotto with mushrooms, sweet onions, white wine, Parmesan cheese and white truffle oil; and maple and mustard pretzel-crusted pork medallions with potatoes and asparagus. Prices range from $14.99 to $34.99.

There is also a selection of sandwiches and burgers, such as the Zin Burger, with Zinfandel-braised sweet onions, gruyere cheese and garlic mayo; and a vegetarian black bean burger with tomatoes, toasted rolled oats, cumin and cilantro. Prices range from $10.99 to $11.49.

Desserts include “banoffee” pie, with a bananas and toffee filling served on a graham-cracker crust; truffles and chocolate-covered strawberries; wine and chocolate pairings; and creme brulee. Prices range from $2.49 to $13.99.

The restaurant is open every day at 11:30 a.m. except Sunday, when it opens at 10 a.m., according to its website.

The menus and wine lists are similar at all Cooper’s Hawk locations. On the flip side, “We always create our beer selection locally and customize our spirits to include products made by local distilleries,” McEnery said.

He describes the Columbus restaurant as “by far the most beautiful to date.”

It’s housed in what was a transitional retail space, transformed from bare bones to rustic restaurant in 10 weeks.

It is large, with high ceilings. A mezzanine-level dining room overlooks a portion of the kitchen and space below.

“It has a sense of grandeur,” he said.

The first floor houses a wine-tasting room designed to look like one in Napa Valley, a retail space and dining areas. The restaurant seats 400.

The decor is rustic but modern.

“We use a lot of wood and stone to bring the earth element in, but it also feels modern,” McEnery said. “We want diners to feel like they’re experiencing California wine country, to create a sense of escape and the experience of being there even if they are too busy to actually go.”

The first Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant opened in 2005 in Orland Park, Ill. The company is in expansion mode. It has restaurants in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

Columbus is the first Ohio location; another will open soon in Cincinnati. The company is also opening restaurants in Kansas City, Mo., and Florida.

In many ways, Columbus and Ohio were ideal for the growing chain.

People in Columbus, “in many ways, are similar to the people of Chicago, so it seemed like the right thing to do to stay close to home,” McEnery said. “This is a great market, and we’re sure our customers will enjoy the restaurant. We’re also opening with a little bit of brand exposure,” as many visitors to the company’s Chicago-area locations hail from central Ohio.

Denise Trowbridge, Dispatch restaurant columnist, can be reached at onrestaurants@dispatch.com.

Cooper’s Hawk Opens in Merrillville, IN, Coming Soon to OH and MO


Cooper’s Hawk Opens in Merrillville, IN, Coming Soon to OH and MO

August 22, 2012 By Leave a Comment

Chicago based Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant opened its ninth location this month in Hobart (Merrillville) Indiana.   This year, Cooper’s Hawk also will be opening restaurants and wineries in Cincinnati, Columbus and Kansas City.   The Cooper’s Hawk concept of pairing proprietary wines with the restaurant’s menu was launched in Orland Park, Illinois in 2005.   Cooper’s Hawk now produces over 125,000 gallons of wine annually in its Countryside, Illinois facility outside Chicago making it the largest wine maker in Illinois, surpassing Blue Sky Winery in Makanda and Lynfred Winery in Roselle.  (Cooper’s Hawk founder Tim McEnerny once worked at Lynfred.)  The majority of grapes for Cooper’s Hawk wines come from California, Oregon and Washington.  Winemaker Rob Warren is a graduate of Brock’s Cool Climate and Viticulture Institute in Ontario, Canada.

During 2011, Crain’s Chicago Business reported that Cooper’s Hawk Restaurants cost $5 million each to open.  Crain’s placed Cooper’s Hawk’s 2011 sales at $50 million.

For more info about the Merrillville opening see Lake Michigan Shore: http://www.nwitimes.com/niche/shore/food-and-drink/cooper-s-hawk-winery-restaurant-debuts-in-northwest-indiana/article_5299093e-471c-5721-b102-a0e69e6177bb.html

Cooper’s Hawk bringing wine-and-food tasting flights to Easton


Staff reporter- Business First
Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants is landing at Easton Town Center.

The Countryside, Ill.-based chain is scheduled to open this fall at the north end of the Columbus retail development near Nordstrom and Anthropologie, hoping to appeal to oenophiles as well as newbies.

“Sometimes it can be hard to go out and not know wine,” said spokeswoman Melanie Pierce. “That’s why it’s important to be able to provide samples, so customers can taste and learn.”

Cooper’s Hawk produces its wines – 47 are listed on its website, including selections of traditional reds, whites and sparkling wines, as well as sweet, fruit and holiday options. Pierce said grapes come from California, Washington state and Oregon, and production is undertaken at its Illinois winery.

The restaurant’s menu will be contemporary American with appetizers such as Southwest-style egg rolls and tenderloin sliders, beef, chicken and seafood entrees, steaks, burgers, salads and sandwiches.

“We create our dishes with our own wines in mind,” Pierce said.

Dishes will range from $10 to $30. In addition to the restaurant set-up, the 13,000-square-foot space will include a tasting room with tastings starting at $7 for as many as eight samples.

“It’s a neat way to kick off dinner or do a tasting before you go out,” Pierce said.

There will be plenty of space for dinner. The restaurant expects to seat 400.

Jen Kaufman, Cooper’s Hawk director of real estate, praised the Columbus’ restaurant scene and said Cooper’s Hawk was drawn to the city because it is near the company’s home base. Of the company’s eight restaurants, six operate in Illinois, one is in Indianapolis and the other is in Wisconsin. Columbus is one of four new openings expected by early 2013, a wave that will take the business into Missouri and Florida.

“Easton is one of the top projects in the country and provides great exposure to their tenants,” Kaufman wrote in an email to Columbus Business First.

The chain was founded in 2005 and projects $75 million in sales for 2012, including 150,000 cases of wine. The brand claims more than 200 wine competition awards.

Dan Eaton covers retail, restaurants, manufacturing, automotive and the advertising/PR industry for Business First.

Easton Town Center announces expansion


COLUMBUS, Ohio – Representatives from Easton Town Center announced expansion plans for the mall on Tuesday.

Co-developers Steiner + Associates and the Georgetown Co. announced plans to add more than 50,000 square feet for new tenants by the end of 2012. Plans also include the renovation of more than 150,000 square feet of existing space.

This expansion will include space for high-end retail stores like Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Tommy Bahama and Sephora.

Columbus-based T-shirt company, Homage, also plans to locate in the new space, 10TV News reported.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant and Brazilian Steakhouse also plan to join the more than 30 restaurants already located at Easton.

Yaromir Steiner, CEO of Steiner + Associates, said that he believes that the project is helping Easton grow.

“Our vision of Easton has been, and continues to be, to challenge ourselves to make it better every day,” Steiner said.

This year, Easton and its tenants are investing more than $20 million in renovations.

Representatives said that they wanted to update Brio Tuscan Grille, AMC Easton Town Center, Express and Victoria’s Secret.

Additional parking spaces are also planned to match the growth, officials said.

Adam Flatto, President of Georgetown Co., said that he was excited about the new plans.

“We are thrilled to be bringing these great additions to Easton,” Flatto said. “Our guests have come to expect best-in-class retailers and dining and outstanding experience upon every visit. These enhancements further amplify Easton’s position as central Ohio’s premier mixed-use destination.”

Easton Town Center drives in more than 22 million visitors annually, 10TV News reported.

Watch 10TV News and refresh 10TV.com for more information.

Easton Town Center expansion, Columbus, Ohio


A trailblazing town center is getting more space and a cosmetic update.

Easton Town Center (Columbus, Ohio) co-developers Steiner + Associates and The Georgetown Co. have announced that they will be adding more than 50,000 sq. ft. of new tenants this year and renovating more than 150,000 sq. ft. of existing space.

“Great projects evolve on purpose,” said Yaromir Steiner, CEO, Steiner. “Our vision for Easton has been, and continues to be, to challenge ourselves to make it better every day.”

The expansion brings in designers Louis Vuitton and Michael Kors; high-end retailers Tommy Bahama, Ann Taylor and Sephora; and introduces Columbus-based t-shirt store Homage to Easton Town Center shoppers. Wine bar and restaurant Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Brazilian steakhouse Texas de Brazil join Easton’s current restaurant roster of more than 30 eateries and 125 retailers, which drive more than 22 million visitors annually.

“We are thrilled to be bringing these great additions to Easton,” said Adam Flatto, president, Georgetown. “Our guests have come to expect best-in-class retailer and dining and outstanding experiences upon every visit. These enhancements further amplify Easton’s position as central Ohio’s premier mixed-use destination.”

Additionally, Easton and its tenants are investing more than $20 million in renovations this year. This 150,000-sq.-ft. project includes updates to Brio Tuscan Grille, AMC Easton Town Center 30, Express, and the Victoria’s Secret flagship store.

Finally, meeting the parking needs for this growth and expansion is a new $24 million, 1,050 space parking deck. The structure will be completed by early 2013.