First Dish: Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant in Chandler

Madison RutherfordSeptember 30, 2021
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It’s easy to get overwhelmed at the Valley’s new Cooper’s Hawk location in Chandler, which opened its doors on Monday.

Those doors lead you into an expansive tasting room lined with every varietal you can imagine on one side, a glass case displaying glistening chocolate truffles on the other, and an array of upscale wine accessories splayed out on tables in the middle of the room. Before you even set foot in the dining area, your eyes might dart in several different directions – each corner of the palatial place vying for attention.

 


Cooper’s Hawk Chandler tasting room | Photo by Madison Rutherford

 

Luckily, the restaurant recently hosted a pre-opening wine pairing event for members of the media, which broke down every part of the whole shebang into bite-sized pieces. We started with a complimentary glass of wine in the tasting room and took a tour of the property, which is the Illinois-based chain’s second location in Arizona. The first opened last December in Scottsdale.

So, we entered through the tasting room, strolled through the dining area, full-service bar, and eventually learned that the Chandler location is also home to two private dining rooms that hold 24 people each.

 


Shaved Brussels sprouts salad | Photo by Madison Rutherford

 

This is where we sat for a sample of CH’s menu items, each course paired with a particular Cooper’s Hawk wine. We went from red to white and back again, starting with a light Moscato and ending with a full-bodied port-style dessert wine.

The company’s main goal is to demystify wine, as it can often be intimidating to determine what you do and don’t like. I’ve personally found some vino varietals and vocabulary kind of confusing, but Cooper’s Hawk aims to make it approachable and inclusive for everyone. If you straight-up just don’t like the taste of wine at all, Cooper’s Hawk has something for you, too. Even the cocktail and beer section of the menu is pretty lofty, and the house-made lemon and pear seltzers are standouts.

In addition to wine tasting and pairing, Cooper’s Hawk has a wine club where members can opt to receive one, two or three bottles of wine each month, plus access to exclusive events, specials and discounts.

 


Mediterranean salad | Photo by Madison Rutherford

 

The food menu at Cooper’s Hawk can be as overwhelming as its volume of vino, so the team broke that down, too, offering us some of the restaurant’s signature dishes. I don’t eat meat, which I sometimes feel can be a burden at events like this, leaving the chef scrambling to concoct a vegetarian version of whatever is being served. Not at Cooper’s Hawk. The restaurant is aware that there are many patrons with dietary restrictions of all kinds and is very attentive and accommodating. So often an afterthought at many restaurants, the meat-free options at Cooper’s Hawk are thoughtful and delicious. A brief chat with CH Chandler chef CJ LeFevre was refreshing and reaffirming – the staff takes pride in its ability to provide vegan and vegetarian options on the menu or modify dishes to accommodate different diets. A “Life Balance” section of the menu highlights dishes that are 600 calories or less, so guests who are mindful of their portions can enjoy dining out.

While my colleagues feasted on pork belly tostadas (which, I’m told, were equally as delicious), I devoured the shaved Brussels sprouts salad topped with a generous helping of shaved Parmesan, spritzed with lemon, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic glaze and prettified with Marcona almonds. It paired perfectly with the Moscato, which had pleasant notes of honey, peach and citrus.

Next up was a sweet corn and tomato risotto with peas, mushrooms, roasted peppers, spinach and pesto oil, garnished with a pretty pile of Stracciatella and a crispy basil leaf. This creamy dish was served with Cooper’s Hawk Lux Sparkling, an effervescent white that evoked yellow pear and green apple notes.

 


Key lime pie and chocolate cake | Photo by Madison Rutherford

 

For my carnivorous counterparts, next came pan-roasted barramundi, but (to my delight) I was served another salad – this one more colorful and complex than the last. Beautiful bits of cucumber, red onion, asparagus, Kalamata olives, zesty giardiniera, juicy grape tomatoes and feta coalesced with a tangy Italian dressing. To drink: unoaked Chardonnay, one of my favorite wines of the evening.

The main course presented one of the best things I’ve eaten in recent memory – gnocchi carbonara with a creamy Parmesan-garlic sauce, fluffy potato pillows floating in an aromatic abundance of cheesy goodness. This was paired with Cooper’s Hawk Lux Pinot Noir.

Dessert at Cooper’s Hawk is especially decadent: a slice of key lime pie and a generous slice of chocolate cake, which was paired with a duo of dessert wines.

I’m not sure if wine is completely demystified for me, but that just means I need to make more visits to Cooper’s Hawk in the future.

3325 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler, 480-936-7711, chwinery.com

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