Cooper’s Hawk Chicago – Go for the Wine, Stay for the Dessert
Written and Photos by Jessica Lewandowski
If you live anywhere in the mid west, or perhaps on the east coast, then you have likely dined at Cooper’s Hawk. For those who have never heard of the winery and restaurant duo, Cooper’s Hawk Chicago is a fantastic dining space that’s perfect for any special occasion, whether it be date night or family celebrations. My beautiful friend and I were recently invited to visit their newest location in Oak Park (a Chicago neighborhood), where we got to sip on some stellar vinos and munch on Autumn-reminiscent dishes.
The new space in Oak Park was on an ideal corner spot on Lake Street. Through the front door, you’re immediately welcomed by a wonderfully sized storefront, where you can pick out some of your favorite wines you may have had with your dinner. Honestly, you could spend hours in there alone, sifting through the seemingly endless selection Cooper’s Hawk offers from its winery (hey, they do tastings too)! Following the gift shop was the casual bar, which was already popping for the evening. This is a must-try for happy hour, especially if you’ve never been.
We were guided through the dining area, which revealed to be more expansive than we had expected. The new location was completely updated with modernized decor, coated in sleek, gray tones and washed in minimalist lighting. We could foresee many romantic date nights in this restaurant, especially with the holidays around the corner!
Of course, my friend and I immediately dove into the menu. We are absolutely not one of those people that are offended by dairy, so we went straight to the plate of Candied Bacon and Artisan Cheeses. For the record, this plate could definitely satisfy more than two people, but my friend and I had no problem keeping Honeycomb, Black Fig Jam, and the Grilled Polenta Crostini all to ourselves. We chose wines from the list of suggested pairings: Cooper’s Hawk Lux Sparkling for myself and Cabernet Sauvignon for my friend. Cheers!
For my entree, I chose the Wild Mushroom-Crusted Chicken, which came with a Sweet Corn and Pea Risotto, Shitake Mushrooms, Spinach, and Lemon Butter. I loved the combination of the sweet, citrusy veggies against the earthy flavor of the mushroom crust. My friend ordered the Gnocchi with Roasted Butternut Squash for her dinner, and it immediately became our favorite part of the night. Perhaps I’m a sucker for anything that includes butternut squash, once a cool breeze hits Chicago, but that dish put me in full-on sweater-weather mode. The gnocchi was very large, and filling, and was accompanied with Roasted Portabello Mushrooms, Sage Brown Butter Cream, and large flakes of Shaved Parmesan. A glass of the suggested Pinot Noir with that dish, and you’ll be hypnotized into a “cozy fall” trance, like I was.
Last but not least, you cannot go to Cooper’s Hawk Chicago without having a shared dessert and glass of wine. At the very least, if you’ve never dined for dinner (although you absolutely should), go for the wine and dessert! My friend and I chose to split the Key Lime Pie, and it did not disappoint. I’m a huge fan of key lime pie, and this one got the stamp of approval. It came with little dollops of Vanilla Bean Sauce and Raspberry Coulis (a staple complement to any good dessert), which cut the acidity in the pie. For nightcaps, I chose to sip on Nightjar, which was a port-style wine. My friend went with the suggested pairing, the Sparkling Almond Wine.
Whether you are visiting for happy hour, are on a date night, friend-date night, or planning a larger event, Cooper’s Hawk Chicago is a very accommodating place. I urge you to check out the new space in Oak Park, but there are a plethora of locations in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Virginia, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Business hours for Cooper’s Hawk will vary by location, but you can expect them to be open during typical lunch and dinner hours. Reservation can be made through OpenTable.