A few years ago, J.’s family took us to Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant over by the International Mall in Tampa. His aunt, had been to the original restaurant up in Chicago and couldn’t wait to share the experience with us. Needless to say, it was a fantastic night, and every visit since then has not disappointed.
I love the atmosphere at Cooper’s Hawk because while it is upscale, it is still very inviting, and not at all stuffy. The Tampa location has three main rooms, an open tasting room with a back wall full of their award winning wines. A back bar area with more casual, open seating and TVs. And of course, their main dining area. It can get a bit loud and crowded during the weekend rush, but they do take reservations (which I highly recommend!)
One of my favorite things about this restaurant, is while they do have a wide variety of house-label wines to choose from, they also curate their menu to pair perfectly with all of these different wines. From start to finish, you know that you are in store for a great meal.
We started our dinner with their complimentary pretzel bread (served warm, yum!) and their April wine of the month, GSM (Grenach, Syrah, Mourvèdre). We had sampled it during our wine tasting, and thought it was a nice spring red as it was not overly heavy. It had a dark fruit aroma (cherries, plums, strawberry) with hints of anise and chocolate. The taste had hints of blackberry, cherry, and vanilla, that while rich, again was not too heavy.
For our meal, J. ordered their Gnocchi Bolognese with braised short rib, roasted tomatoes, pancetta, olive oil, and topped with fresh mozzarella. Sometimes gnocchi can be very heavy, gummy, and overwhelming. The pancetta and short rib in this dish added a nice saltiness that cut through the heaviness of this dish really well. The fresh tomatoes added that nice fresh element, and the pasta was cooked perfectly.
I, of course, couldn’t make my mind up for what I wanted, so ended up with the Surf & Turf with Parmesan-Crusted Filet Medallions & Pistachio Crusted Grouper. The filet medallions were cooked exactly to my specifications (a huge check plus in my book!) The Parmesan crust added nice texture and salt. The grouper was also moist and was complimented nicely by the textured crust and fat from the pistachios. It was served with roasted vegetables and I switched out my mashed potatoes for their white cheddar shredded potatoes.
And in case you’re still hungry after dinner, they have a wonderful selection of rich desserts. If you’re looking for a full course meal for a nice occasion, I highly recommend Cooper’s Hawk! The wide array of choices will be sure to please everyone!
Stay tuned for my Happy Hour post on some of their delicious wines and Wine Club membership!
Until next time!