Cooper’s Hawk in Orlando makes OpenTable’s top 100 wine lists in U.S.

By Web Producer-Orlando Business Journal

A restaurant in a popular east Orlando retail center has been nationally recognized for its wine list.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant inWaterford Lakes Town Center was among

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant in Waterford Lakes Town Center was among OpenTable’s Top 100 Wine Lists in the nation.

OpenTable’s Top 100 Wine Lists in America.

The 1,500-square-foot restaurant at 529 N. Alafaya Trail was the first Central Florida location for the Countryside, Ill.-based chain. The Waterford Lakes eatery regularly has about 3,000 bottles of wine on hand, and every dish on the 70-item menu has a wine pairing.

Cooper’s Hawk recently opened its second Central Florida location on Orlando’s International Drive. The 12,400-square-foot eatery is part of Unicorp National Developments Inc.’s $200 million I-Shops project.

Cooper’s Hawk had eight other locations throughout the nation make OpenTable’s list.

Only two other Florida restaurants made OpenTable’s Top 100 Wine Lists, including Cuvee Wine & Bistro in Ocala and OVINTE in Jacksonville.

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Central Florida Lifestyle: Perfect Pairings

By Lyndsay Fogerty
Central Florida Lifestyle

Prepare to be wined and dined from the moment you step foot into Cooper’s Hawk Winery. The Chicago-based company, which features a menu developed with its own handcrafted wines in mind, has two Central Florida locations that offer something new — and a refreshing change of pace — to the Orlando dining scene. The restaurant in Waterford  Lakes opened to rave reviews in April, and its newest location — part of the restaurant boom of International Drive — will open in Southwest Orlando on September 15. The new  International Drive location will be the first in the company to offer breakfast and brunch options for guests.

If you haven’t noticed from the name, wine is a huge part of what
Cooper’s Hawk Winery is all about. The wines found on the menu are produced at the company’s Chicago headquarters, though grapes are sourced from vineyards across the country. This year, Cooper’s Hawk is projected to produce over 260,000 cases of wine for its 16 locations nationwide. Each location has a Napa-style tasting room so guests can sample the winery’s latest selections. A tasting includes eight pours and pricing begins at $7. To assist diners with pairings, a bin number is placed next to each item on the menu. This number guides guests to the perfect wine match for their dish of choice.

When it comes to the kitchen, a Cooper’s Hawk specialty is the gnocchi, and it comes in three flavorful varieties. Tossed with pancetta, chicken, sage, peas and a Parmesan garlic cream sauce, the Gnocchi Carbonara is hearty but not too heavy. In the Gnocchi with Roasted Butternut Squash, the popular fall staple is the star with sage, brown butter cream and shaved Parmesan rounding out the dish. For more of a Mediterranean flavor, the Gnocchi with Braised Fennel & Herb Ricotta Dolce is tossed with artichokes, portabella mushrooms, kalamata olives, basil and tomatoes. Instead of the traditional potato gnocchi, Chef Matt McMillin makes the Cooper’s Hawk version with ricotta, a technique that makes it lighter and fluffier.

Joining signature dishes like Red Wine Braised Short Ribs and Mexican Drunken Shrimp on the menu are some guest favorites like the Maple, Mustard & PretzelCrusted Pork Medallions. In this dish, three sweet and savory pork medallions are served with Mary’s  potatoes and asparagus. Asian Pork Belly Tostadas top the list, too, because of its sweet and tangy flavors. Crispy tortillas are topped with melted cheese and a mixture of pork belly, sweet chili BBQ sauce, scallions, cilantro and crunchy radish. The Blackened Ahi
Tuna has a spicy sear that is cooled off with Asian slaw and cilantro citrus rice. The tuna comes on the traditional menu and the Life Balance menu, a unique twist where the dish is prepared so that it is under 600 calories. Appetizers, entrees and desserts come on the Life Balance Menu, but don’t worry that you’re missing out by going for the healthier option. The portions are still plenty and you’re sure to leave with a full belly. Glutenfree options are also available.

Make sure to save room for dessert. Each item on the dessert menu is made
in-house and is whole-heartedly splurgeworthy. With options like Chocolate Pretzel Bread Pudding and Banana Caramel Ice Cream Sandwich, you can’t go wrong. In the gift shop, decadent chocolate truffles (like chocolate cabernet, tiramisu and pistachio) line the bakery dessert case. Cheesecake lollipops and candied walnut turtles will also catch your attention. The chocolates and truffles from the bakery are available as a dessert option with or without a flight of wine pairings. You can also box up these sweet treats and take them home to savor later.

More than just flavorful food and wonderful wines, Cooper’s Hawk has also created an exclusive monthly wine club that is broken down into the Red Club, White Club, Variety
Club or Sweet Club. The Cooper’s Hawk Wine Club is one of the largest in the country and also offers members exclusive classes, parties and events. Members can pick up their  wine at any Cooper’s Hawk location or it can be delivered to their home for a fee.

Also, a gift shop at each property offers the bases for the sauces that you will find on the Cooper’s  Hawk menu. So if you find a dish that you just can’t get enough of, this gives you the opportunity to re-create it in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Whether you’re a foodie, a wino, or both, Cooper’s Hawk Winery is a
unique addition to the Central Florida dining scene that will quickly top your list of favorites.

For more information about Cooper’s Hawk Winery and for the Gnocchi Carbonara recipe, visit our website at

CH – CFL September issue 2014 1

Restaurant review: Cooper’s Hawk in Orlando

By Heather McPherson, ORLANDO SENTINEL FOOD EDITOR12:24 p.m. EDT, June 26, 2014

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant is the newest addition to the Waterford Lakes Town Center enclave.

What makes Cooper’s stand apart from the usual chains that thrive in east Orange County is its format: A combo platter of dining destination, winery, wine-tasting room and gift shop.

The concept, which originated in a suburb of Chicago, pairs Cooper’s Hawk wines with creative turns on upscale-casual fare. There is not a lot of new ground broken in the kitchen, but the food is good.

All guests pass through the gift shop and tasting room to be seated. For those who like to shop, the path can be somewhat distracting, but I found the staff to be gracious and accommodating.

A tasting includes eight pours and starts at $7, a fair price and a nice way to spend your time if you have to wait for a table.

The dining room has an eclectic décor of brown tones with a good mix of booths and regular tables. There is more seating in the bar.

We started with the Cooper’s Hawk appetizer sampler ($21.49), a platter with four over-the-border egg rolls, several chicken pot stickers, two crab cakes and so-so calamari. There was too much fill in the cakes for my taste, but they were pretty good. The tender calamari had no flavor; a little salt and pepper or herbs in the breading mix would have helped. The egg rolls had a pleasant shot of heat and the pot stickers rocked.

On a second visit we tried the Asian pork belly tostadas ($8.99), which our server described as “life-changing.” For me that is going to take a Lotto win, but the appetizer was wonderful. It had a nice balance of flavor and texture from sweet pork, rough-chopped scallions, sesame seeds, fresh cilantro, radish and a sweet chili barbecue sauce.

For entrees, the soy ginger salmon ($20.99 dinner, $14.99 lunch) with wasabi buttered potatoes and Asian slaw was perfection. The rich salmon bordered on a juicy medium rare, the potatoes were enlivened by the wasabi topping and the Asian slaw had just the right mix of sweet-and-sour crunch.

Anne’s chicken saltimbocca ($17.99 dinner, $13.99 lunch) with prosciutto, provolone, sage, artichoke hearts and capers in a white wine lemon sauce is a to-go-box worthy selection. My only quibble is that the sauce made the overall flavor more like a piccata rather than the wallop of flavor a saltimbocca always promises.

The country rigatoni ($15.99) is a hearty mix of Italian sausage, mushrooms, chicken, fresh herbs and roasted grape tomatoes tossed in a tomato garlic cream sauce. The only thing I would add to the equation is a little more sausage.

The chicken giardiniera ($16.99 dinner, $12.99 lunch) featured Parmesan-breaded poultry topped with shaved Parmesan and served with Mary’s potatoes (whipped with butter and cream).

Of the wine portfolio, I only sampled the barrel red, a serviceable blend that pairs nicely with beef or pasta. I am leaving a more extensive review of the wine for when I return with my colleague, night-life reporter Tod Caviness.

The Dish on dining
Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants

Where: 529 N. Alafaya Trail in Orlando (next to Pier 1 Imports in Waterford Lakes Town Center)

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Gluten Free in Orlando: Disney & BeyondAlexis Salerno

Our daughters had their last day of school today, so we went to Cooper’s Hawk for a celebratory lunch.

I knew they had an extensive gluten free menu because I had looked at it online, but I was still blown away by how many pages and choices there were.  You can view all of Cooper’s Hawk’s gluten free options here.  They have a gluten free wine list, drink & beverage menu, appetizers, salads, chicken, seafood & beef entrees, burgers & sandwiches, lunch-sized entrees, sides, and house made desserts.

There were so many wonderful things to choose from, I didn’t know what to order.
The gluten free bread we started with is the same bread they use for their hamburgers.  It was heated perfectly, and tasted quite good.
From the appetizer menu, I ordered the Mexican drunken shrimp, which is described as bacon wrapped shrimp, tequila lime butter sauce, and fresh guacamole. My shrimp were cooked perfectly, and I loved all the flavors of this dish.
I also ordered a lunch portion of the Dana’s Parmesan-Crusted Chicken.  It was one of the best entrees I have had at a restaurant this year.
I loved the combination of parmesan-crusted chicken with tomato basil relish and lemon butter.  My garlic green beans, which are hidden under my chicken, were cooked and seasoned perfectly.
My chicken dish was served with a bowl of Mary’s Potatoes, which are whipped potatoes with butter and cream.   They were just as delicious as my chicken!
My friend Shelley loved her Anne’s Chicken Saltimbocca with prosciutto, provolone, garlic, artichoke hearts, capers, tomatoes, white wine lemon sauce, Mary’s potatoes, and asparagus.
Her daughter Bella enjoyed her burger, and said the Mary’s potatoes were the best mashed potatoes she had ever had.
For dessert, my daughters and I ordered a gluten free chocolate brownie with vanilla bean ice cream, and chocolate, caramel, raspberry and vanilla sauces.  The brownie is an OMG…It’s Gluten Free Fudge Brownie, a brownie we are familiar with from Disney.  They are always fudgy and delicious, and we loved the brownie with the ice cream and sauces, which we ordered on the side.
I tried a sample of Cooper’s Hawk’s sangria white and loved it so much, I purchased a bottle of wine before we left.
Cooper’s Hawk takes gluten free food preparation seriously, and the manager and chef are informed when someone with a special diet orders from the gluten free menu.  After reading amazing reviews on Pretty Little Celiac and Gluten Free Living Now, I was so excited to go to Cooper’s Hawk Restaurant & Winery.  The food was all incredibly delicious, and our server Katie H. did an amazing job.  We will definitely be going back.
Have you been to Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant?  You can view their restaurant locator here.

Chef’s Kitchen: Cooper’s Hawk Gnocchi Carbonara

By Allison Walker, Entertainment Reporter/Anchor, Central Florida 13 News

ORLANDO — Ask a reporter, producer, editor, photog, master control operator or anyone in the newsroom and we’ll admit – without hesitation: we’re ravenous beasts.

It’s true. If leftovers, donuts, day-old bread or edible press releases are put in the break room, most of us will only see the empty serving plate.

So – selfishly – I couldn’t bring myself to leave my gnocchi carbonara in there after discovering it at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant in the Waterford Lakes area of Orlando. Colleagues, I do apologize, but I’m telling you – the pasta pillows (made with ricotta cheese – not potato!) were like a lullaby in my mouth. That’s pretty awesome, and I did have an awesome supper that night.

“It’s very, very light and fluffy,” said Cooper’s Hawk Executive Chef Matthew McMillin, referring to his ricotta preference. “Sometimes the potato ones can be a little chewy.”

Chef also thinks this creamy, hearty dish should be without a common ingredient.

“Typically, a carbonara will have a little bit of egg.,” he said. “Ours – we don’t put eggs.”

But with the roasted chicken, peas, pancetta, garlic, cream and chardonnay, you won’t miss a darn thing when biting into this most comforting of comfort foods. And please – be careful if you bring in the leftovers for lunch. Just sayin.’

Let’s cook!

Cooper’s Hawk Gnocchi Carbonara
Yield:   Serves 2-4

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Butter
2-1/8” thick slices of pancetta, cut into 1/4′” x 1” slices
20 oz. cooked Gnocchi, precooked and cooled
2 each garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Cooper’s Hawk Chardonnay
1 cup fresh chicken stock
2½ cups heavy cream
8 oz. pulled rotisserie chicken
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
½ cup peas
1/3 cup Regianno Parmesan cheese, grated

In a medium-hot pan, add the oil and butter. When butter melts and turns slightly brown, add sliced pancetta. Toss until pancetta starts to brown. Add Gnocchi and toss until gnocchi browns slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and toss until garlic softens, about 1 minute. Do not brown garlic.

Add wine and reduce by half. Then add chicken stock. Once reduced by half, add cream and bring to simmer. Begin to reduce sauce and add gnocchi and simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.  Add chicken and toss.  Season to taste with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.  Add sage, peas and ½ of the parmesan cheese and stir to incorporate.

Remove to a platter and garnish with freshly shaved parmesan cheese.

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Spotlight: Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant

By: Kristen Manieri Orlando Date Night Guide
Not a lot of restaurants have figured out how to make the wait for your table just as enjoyable as sitting at it. But thanks to a new winery meets restaurant concept, recently unveiled at the Waterford Lakes Town Center, the guest experience begins steps before the hostess stand.

Arrive at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant and the first thing you’ll be invited to do is belly up to the tasting bar to sip a series of selections from the restaurant’s own wine collection. At its Chicago headquarters, the company produces more than 50 different wines, crafted from west coast grapes and then shipped in bottles and barrels to the nearly 20 different Cooper’s Hawk locations across the country.

For $7, you’ll get eight 1oz pours plus the chance to ask loads of questions during the sampling. Tastings with a signature wine glass are $10. Premium tastings, red-only tastings and sweet tastings are available too.

The food, which many liken to Seasons 52 fare, is classified as modern and casual with lots of tasty choices from Pistachio Crusted Grouper to Red Wine Braised Short Ribs to Mexican Drunken Shrimp. There’s a fun ‘Create Your Own Surf and Turf” option, lots of share-able flat bread and appetizer choices, as well as burgers, pasta dishes and a bevy of salads and tasty sides.

For dessert, the wine and chocolate tasting ($13.99), which includes an assortment of house made chocolates and tru ffles paired with a flight of 3 sweet wines, is highly recommended.

On those nights when you’re looking a quick bite, snag a seat at the bar where you can share a few flatbreads and enjoy a wine flight.

Wherever you end up sitting—bar or dining room— you’ll notice that the wine takes center stage on the menu thanks to the bin numbers listed next to each item and guiding guests to their perfect wine match.

Like what you’re drinking? Join the club… literally. Cooper’s Hawk has one of the country’s largest wine of the month clubs, offering subscribers monthly wines, special discounts, invitations to exclusive events, rewards, and annual domestic and international wine trips. Memberships start at $16.99/month. More info here.

The restaurant and tasting room are open daily at 11 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and close at 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant
529 N. Alafaya Trail
Orlando, FL 32828

**The International Drive location will be opening summer 2014**

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Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant Opens in Waterford Lakes

Written by Scott Joseph

Waterford Lakes Interior

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants opened its first Orlando location late last month in the Waterford Lakes area. This part of East Orlando is rife with chains and “family style” eateries, none of which would be considered even upscale casual. Cooper’s Hawk is also a chain, albeit a nascent one. The Orlando restaurant is the Orland Park, Illinois, company’s fifteenth. Another on International Drive is scheduled to open in the fall.

I don’t know if Cooper’s Hawk will elevate the dining level for Waterford Lakes — I’ll have my review of the food in coming weeks — but a media preview at least showed signs of hope that it could be a place for a less frantic meal than those offered by the Olive Gardens, Smokey Bones and Bahama Breezes of the world.

The main conceit of Cooper’s Hawk is that it produces its own wines. No, not here in Orlando; in the Chicago area. And yes, you’re right that Illinois is not known as one of the great wine producing states. Cooper’s Hawk buys grapes from other regions that are known for their wines and makes its branded wines from those various fruits. The local Cooper’s Hawk does have a barrel on hand and offers tastes directly from the barrel, the samples extracted using a wine thief.

It’s a gimmick, to be sure, and the gift shop and “tasting room” that serves as the entrance and exit for the restaurant doesn’t do much to instill a feeling that fine food and wine are just beyond the merchandise.

But we’ll keep an open mind.

Cooper’s Hawk is at 529 N. Alafaya Trail, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily.


Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants

By Wanda Lopez, My Sweet Zepol

Grand opening!

Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurants is opening its doors today in Waterford Lakes Town Center, Orlando Fl.  The first of two locations in Orlando. The other Orlando location will be on International Drive and it’s expected to open in Fall 2014 (I will keep you up to date with more news about the official opening date, so make sure to stay tuned).

Casual dining experience with warm service and a menu created with its own handcrafted wines in mind. The menu features unique dishes with bin numbers listed next to each item on the menu, guiding guests to their selection’s perfect wine match. This is a great feature for me, since pairing a wine to the meal can become daunting, not here, they got you covered. With over 40 types of Cooper’s Hawk wines on site, domestic and craft beers plus a full cocktail bar for guests to enjoy. Got your attention? I knew it! Well, here’s more.

Cooper's-Hawk-Winery-and-Restaurants-mysweetzepolOnce you enter Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants you will experience a beautifully made Napa-style Tasting Room where you can sample the winery’s latest selections. A tasting includes eight pours and starts at $7. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable and can guide you through the wine tasting process. Which is always helpful for those that (like me) know very little about wine but still want to enjoy the experience and taste amazing wine.


Wine pairs perfectly with chocolate and Cooper’s Hawk has you covered in this area as well. House made truffles by two staff pastry chefs. Each month they will be highlighting new flavors that goes well with the season. That will definitely have me in the look out. A truffle can be added onto a tasting for $1. Or you they can be purchases separately for $2.49 ea. (prices subject to change).

Cooper's-Hawk-Winery-and-Restaurants-chocolate-truffles-mysweetzepol(Variety of House-Made Truffles)

You can also browse the gift shop for food and wine related items, as well as custom designed gift baskets.

Cooper's-Hawk-Winery-Restaurants-display-mysweetzepol(Entrance shop display)

Wish to say “Thank You” to Cooper’s Hawk for hosting an afternoon where I and some amazing guests had the pleasure to sample a handful of Cooper’s Hawk appetizers and a variety of their exceptional wines. Tim Mahler, General Manager and part of the staff that will be running this very expected restaurant where there to greet us, share their passion for food and wine, and give us a tour of the beautifully designed and decorated winery and restaurant.


We were greeted in an uniquely designed winery inspired private party space. These space allows guests the opportunity to experience the rich culture and timelessness of the wine making world. They also offer special private party packages perfect for celebrations, business meetings and group dinners.

Cooper's-Hawk-Winery-Restaurants-Caprese-Flatbreads-appetizer-mysweetzepol(Caprese Flatbreads – ripe tomatoes, mozarella, red onion, pesto, jilienne basil and balsamic glaze)

Cooper's-Hawk-Winery-Restaurants-Cheese-platters-mysweetzepol(Chef Matt’s Cheese Tasting – a wine friendly selection of cheeses)

Cooper's-Hawk-Winery-Restaurants-Ahi-Tuna-appetizer-mysweetzepol(Blackened Ahi Tuna – seared rare with wasabi sauce and pickled ginger)

Cooper's-Hawk-Winery-Restaurants-Asian-Pork-Belly-Tostadas-appetizer-mysweetzepol(Asian Pork Belly Tostadas – scallions, sesame seeds, cilantro, radish and sweet chili BBQ sauce)

Cooper's-Hawk-Winery-Restaurants-Mexican-Drunken-Shrimp-appetizer-mysweetzepol(Mexican Drunken Shrimp – bacon wrapped shrimp, tequila lime butter sauce and fresh guacamole)

Cooper's-Hawk-Winery-Restaurants-Chicken-Al-Pastor-Stuffed-Mushrooms-appetizer-mysweetzepol(Chicken Al Pastor Stuffed Mushrooms – traditional mexican spices, chicken chorizo, pepper jack cheese, cilantro, crispy tortilla strips, sour cream and chipotle tomato sauce)

Cooper’s Hawk has wine is available for purchase on site. You may also be interested in joining an exclusive monthly wine club. The program is available for $18.99 a month for one bottle. Which can be picked up at any Cooper’s Hawk location or delivered for an additional fee. The club is broken down into the Red Club, White Club, Variety Club or Sweet Club. Cooper’s Hawk Wine Club is one of the largest in the country and offers members exclusive classes, parties and events. I personally can’t wait to go with my husband and explore they various options and pick the one that best suits us. We are not regular drinkers, but do enjoy a good wine from time to time.


If you order a red wine bottle for your table be prepared for the arrival of a decanter. This decanted is for the use of red wine only. You can serve it yourself of if you are like me that prefers to leave the fragile things to the experts, they will be more than glad to take care of it. A conversation piece for sure!


Here’s Tim Mahler, General Manager showing us one of Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants features. A barrel sample of the Cooper’s Hawk Bordeaux Reserve.


I am personally looking forward to returning to Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurants, bring me family, enjoy good food, amazing company and repeat. Expect more about Cooper’s Hawk desserts and their perfect wine match here in future posts.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants (click on link for menu and more information) – 529 N. Alafaya Trail, Orlando, Fl. – no reservations needed, but if you prefer one call 407-374-2464.

Disclosure: I was invited for an afternoon of appetizer and wine tasting. No cash compensation was    given to write this post. All opinions and pictures are 100% mine.
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