Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Restaurant Review - Cooper's Hawk Winery

In the last month, I visited two Cooper’s Hawk Winery locations for bridal showers. I have to say, I don’t understand the appeal of this chain, but I may be the only one as they are opening up several more locations nationwide. I dined at the Arlington Heights and Burr Ridge, Illinois locations and had mediocre dining experiences both times.

When comparing the two locations, the Arlington Heights restaurant has a much better private room. The upstairs of the main dining rooms features a cozy, lofted space ideal for an intimate occasion like a bridal shower. In Burr Ridge, the private room is smack dab in the middle of the restaurant and wall-to-wall windows look out to the parking lot. The bridal shower lunch menus were nearly identical. Both meals started with a Plain ‘Ol House Salad. Their words not mine! Why a restaurant would name one of their salads that is beyond me, but the name was fitting. Wilted lettuce is adorned with a few salty croutons and roughly cut tomatoes. Arlington Heights featured one special ingredient in my salad – a dead fly! Yup, halfway through I found a plain ‘ol house fly. I’ve eaten bugs voluntarily before, but I’m afraid this garnish wasn’t intentional.
flies are not food!
Cooper’s Hawk is not the place to go for a light meal. Entrée portions are huge, sodium-loaded dishes covered in rich sauces. The Chicken Madeira is a monstrous portion of chicken beaten and flattened within an inch of its life smothered in provolone cheese, mashed potatoes and Parmesan.  A wine and butter sauce tops it off along with a few random asparagus spears. At $16.99 it’s not a cheap lunch and I know Banquet has a much more affordable and comparable option.

gotta love a white sauce!
The Soy Ginger Salmon is a slightly more delicate dish. I wish I had asked for the ginger glaze on the side as the salmon was cooked well, but drowned in salt from the sauce. The mashed potatoes on the side were standard, but what really caught me off guard was the Asian Slaw. A football-sized portion of shredded cabbage in yes, more sauce, accompanied the dish. I would be impressed to find someone with a stomach tough enough to digest all that raw vegetation as I could only make it through a few bites before throwing in the towel.

Moving on to dessert! The Cheesecake with Fresh Strawberries is fluffy and moist with a graham cracker crust. This dish was hands down my favorite out of anything I ordered and would recommend the cheesecake over the Cooper’s Hawk Chocolate Cake.  The Chocolate Cake is nothing special, just a giant piece of cake served with a blob of ice cream. Not that anyone needs dessert after a meal at Cooper’s Hawk, but the desserts outshined all the previous courses I tried.  

Something that I didn’t get to sample was the wine menu. I’m curious to hear what anyone has to say on Cooper’s Hawk wine. I did have a glass of Passion Fruit sangria that tasted an awful lot like Kool Aid, but I can’t speak on the rest of the cocktail menu. Cooper’s Hawk is a run of the mill American chain with a longer wine list that I hopefully will not have to visit a third time. 

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