-3 Snaps! Try it. You might like it.
Cooper's Hawk opened in 2013 in the maze of mixed use businesses and office buildings crowding Boy Scout Blvd. in the Westshore Business District of Tampa. A large component of the CH business model is wine, sponsoring both a national wine club and tasting rooms at their several locations.
The Tampa store is cavernous, divided in to several dining rooms, the tasting room, and a lovely outdoor patio area. The front entry leads into the tasting area filled with people and an unusual amount of merchandise - some wine related, some not so much. Inside the rooms are remarkably cold and loud.. The patio outdoors is pleasant on a coolish April eve.
Service is friendly and attentive. Meals start with warm pretzel bread and sweet butter. I consistently hear yapping from restaurant owners about how bread is an added expense and inhibits customers from buying appetizers. This palette pleasing starter just teed us up the rest of our meal and is def a value added for this upper end eatery
We start with Mexican Drunken Shrimp ($13.99) -The menu says these are bacon wrapped, but as you will see from the photo, ours were not delivered to the table that way. Other ingredients were tequila lime butter sauce, and fresh guacamole. The shrimp are crispy with a sweet tequila tang. The guacamole adds a nice creaminess but cilantro comes on a little strong
Pistachio-Crusted Grouper ($25.99) is plated in a mustard sauce and served with Mary's potatoes and asparagus. The fish is perfectly cooked and flaky and the pistachio crust is browned and add a nice nutty balance.
Soy Ginger Atlantic Salmon with wasabi-buttered mashed potatoes and Asian slaw is mediocre. The fish is under cooked rendering the texture mushy, but the flavor is spot on. Buttery sweet sauce compliments the mild pink fish. The wasabi butter mashed potatoes are a delicious blend and the sweet sauce left over from the fish fits nicely on top. The accompanying Asian cole slaw is missing any real kick.
Surprisingly the wine is underwhelming! Cabernet Sauvignon ($8.75) lacks any real boldness I would expect from a cab. My table mates Cabernet Zinfandel ($8.75) is a little better but still nothing I would expect from a place that builds it's business on wine. She orders a tart/sweet Pomegranate martini instead, and it's well done.To their credit they have a no risk policy offering a sample of the menu wine items before you buy..
The wine is akin to a wholesale club product that Costco might offer if they were a winery. They balance price point with quality which leads to mediocrity. It's not bad nor is it a wine country vineyard all star. The sampling room is filled with merchandise and reminds me of Cracker Barrel in the amount of wine kitsch. But, it's crowded with believers.
Overall, Cooper's Hawk has some hits and misses. The atmosphere is energetic (maybe because it is so cold inside). Service is professional and food leans in a positive direction but could use some tweaking. The wine, on the other hand, is not worth a return visit.
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