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Cooper's Hawk Soars High Amid Indy's Restaurant Scene

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Cooper's Hawk Soars High Amid Indy's Restaurant Scene

Photo Courtesy of Cooper's Hawk.

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About a month ago, I was driving across 96th street and noticed Cooper's Hawk for the first time. I don't know how I'd missed it before, but I was instantly curious about it. I hadn't even heard anyone talking about it. I later discovered that Cooper's Hawk has been at that location for several years! When my department announced it was holding our holiday party there, I was excited to give it a try. I headed to Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurant eagerly.

The Experience

 

Located at 3815 E. 96th Street on the northside of Indianapolis, Cooper's Hawk is both a winery and a restaurant. The entrance opens into the tasting room, which includes a small gift shop. The store is filled with wine accessories and gifts and you can of course, purchase bottles there. You may also sample wines from the latest selection in the tasting room. A tasting includes eight wines and no reservations are required. Freshly-made desserts are also available from the bakery case.

Inside, Cooper's Hawk has both a classy and comfortable feel. Wine barrels add to the decor and warm woods contribute to its classic feel. Because Cooper's Hawk is a winery, much of its decor reflects that.

 

The Service

 

When our group arrived, the private room that was reserved for us was not quite ready. It was a weeknight, but the waiting area in the tasting room gets crowded because of the gift shop. After cruising the tasting room for a few minutes, we were seated in a nice, private room. The private party room had three small tables that seat about six and a wine serving table. The room is lined with old wooden wine barrels,creating a warm, intimate feel.

As we were seated, we were kindly greeted by our personal server for the evening. For our company party, both red and white wines were available on the table. In addition, the server promptly took our drink orders as our party trickled in. Once we had all settled into our seats, our order was taken and appetizers arrived shortly.

Throughout the meal, we received impeccable service. We were never without drinks and the server was observant and took care of our needs without hovering. He provided us with menu suggestions, offered his personal favorites and politely answered our questions. Cooper's Hawk strives to be what they call a "modern casual" restaurant and that was reflected in their service style. While the service was the quality of a five star restaurant, it was personable. I once ate at a local restaurant where a nervous man flew to our table and scraped the crumbs between each course. It felt stuffy and cold and frankly, made me uncomfortable. There is none of that at Cooper's Hawk, which added to the pleasant experience.

 

The Food

 

Cooper's Hawk offers a varied menu - everything from sandwiches and burgers to Italian dishes and flavorful steaks. Guests on nearly every diet should be able to find something to fit their needs. The restaurant offers a special gluten free menu and what they call a Life Balance menu, which features dishes under 600 calories and smaller portions. Calorie counts are listed beside each menu item and extra care is taken in measuring portion sizes to ensure accuracy. As someone who is currently mindful of every calorie, this would be so helpful. However, on this night, I most certainly was not counting calories.

The wine aspect of Cooper's Hawk is ever-present. Each menu items includes a bin number beside it with its perfect wine pairing. The dishes are made with their signature wines in mind. These wines will compliment the dishes and take the meal to another level of flavor. However, you can certainly dine at Cooper's Hawk without ever sipping wine.

There are several signature dishes on their menu that have become diner favorites. One of these is the Trio of Medallions. The entree features broiled USDA Angus horseradish, bleu cheese, and parmesan-crusted filet medallions. The medallions are served with Mary’s potatoes (whipped with butter and cream) and asparagus. Sandwich specialties include the Asian BBQ Pork Tenderloin Sandwich. The sandwich is made with sliced BBQ pork tenderloin, prosciutto, pineapple, swiss cheese, ginger scallion mayo, and crunchy Asian slaw on sweet onion pocket bread.

Cooper's Hawk also offers a special brunch menu on Sundays from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. The brunch includes a complimentary Mimosa, Bellini or glass of sparkling wine. I would love to go back and try their Naple-Style Brunch which for $14.99, includes baked fresh toast with apples and dried cherries, scrambled eggs, country potatoes, fresh fruit and a choice of Nueske's appledwood smoked bacon or Vermon maple sausage links. For the little ones in your party, regular and brunch kid's menus are available.

 

The Review

 

I started my meal off at Cooper's Hawk with a Raspberry Spritzer. I enjoy sweet, white wines but did not care for their Moscato, which is generally my favorite. Their version is made from melons and having never been a fan, that faint taste was enough to set me off it. I did sample a few white wines but in the end, decided I would enjoy something sweeter. I was very happy with the spritzer. It was refreshing and sweet and large enough that I could drink it throughout the meal.

We began our meal with the Cooper's Hawk Sampler which includes Over the Border Egg Rolls, Tenderloin Sliders, Chicken Potstickers, and Mini Crab Cakes. I was able to sample both the chicken potstickers and a mini crab cake. Both were delicious. The Caprese Flatbread was also part of our appetizer order. It is made with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, red onion, Julienne basil, pesto, and a balsamic reduction. I enjoyed the crisp, fresh flavor of the flatbread's ingredients.

I was in the mood for a good steak, so when I spied the Cowboy Ribeye, I knew it was my choice. The 20 oz USDA Angus bone-in ribeye is cut with flavorful marbling and topped with butter and crispy onion strings. It is served with broccoli and a choice of side. I chose the baked potato. I knew the Cowboy was going to be huge but I really wanted a flavorful cut and I knew with the marbling, the ribeye was going to suit me. The Cowboy did not disappoint. It was full of great flavor and the onion strings on top, combined with the broccoli, complimented the steak. While I have often been disappointed with expensive steaks ($35), I thought this steak lived up. I did, however, have to save over half of it for the following day!

Several of my co-workers ordered the Medallion Trio and said it was delicious - a great blend of flavors. They were pleased with the portion size and the presentation. Those that ordered the Medallions were able to finish it at the restaurant.

For dessert, I opted for the Cooper's Hawk Chocolate Cake ($6.99). This chocolately confection is layers of chocolate cake, chocolate moose and rich chocolate ganache, served with vanilla bean ice cream. With it, I had a cup of coffee. The chocolate cake was moist, rich and huge! Half of that also went home. With coffee to cut some of the sweetness, it was a perfect dessert. Several at the table got the Creme Brulee and while they said it was okay, it was too sweet for them and the concensus was they'd had better at other restaurants. Cooper Hawk's specialty dessert, the Banoffee Pie received rave reviews. It is fresh bananas in a toffee filling in a graham cracker crust, with fresh whipped cream.

As you can see, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant. I was delighted with my choices and everything from the drinks to the dessert was good. I enjoyed their "modern casual" environment and appreciated their vast menu with unique flavor combinations. While I was not footing the bill for this meal, I do appreciate that there are menu choices for every price range. You can enjoy a quick dinner on a Tuesday night or a special anniversary dinner in the same restaurant. It's casual enough for jeans, but nice enough that you won't feel out of place in dress clothes. For a fun and tasty evening out, I highly recommend Cooper's Hawk.

Recommendations

  • Chicken Potstickers
  • Cowboy Ribeye
  • Trio of Medallions

Pros

  • Quality Food
  • Nice Atmosphere
  • Friendly and Knowledgeable Staff

Cons

  • Crowded Tasting Room/Wait Area

 

Other Restaurant Links

 

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Review of Casler's Kitchen and Bar

Great Brunch Restaurants

Review of Greek's Pizzeria

Review of Scotty's Brewhouse, North

 

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