Dream Big. Work Hard. Persistence, passion, and patience pays off. Tim McEnery at 29 had the dream to create a community where a shared passion for both wine and food would bring people close. He combined his working experience at Aramark Food Service and Lynfred Winery to fulfill his vision. He became the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Cooper’s Hawk national Restaurants and winery. He never gave up his goal despite numerous rejections early on. His empire of restaurants in multiple locations covering ten states and winery retail operation now earns upwards of $340 million in annual revenue. He and his wife Dana started with their first restaurant in Orland Park 2005. You have to love a Chicagoland killer concept restaurant that is so good and successful it triumphs nationwide. Cooper’s Hawk believes in a wine-driven lifestyle combined with American-fusion dishes featuring flavors from around the world.
The original menu for Cooper’s Hawk created by Executive Chef Jose Esparza and Tim McEnery consisted of 64 menu items many of which are now considered their signature dishes such as Mexican Drunken Shrimp, Pistachio-Crusted Grouper, and their famous Jambalaya. The current Vice President of Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants is Matt McMillin, winner of Nation’s Restaurant News “2010 Hot Concept Award”. Native Chicagoan, Chef McMillin is noted for his innovative cuisine and prestigious restaurant experience. He is also an educator, cookbook author, and food television personality.
Since its founding, Cooper’s Hawk has always been fully committed to the safety and well-being of their guests and team members, so they are adhering to all recommendations of the CDC and local public health regulations. They offer carryout, contactless curbside delivery with wine. Cooper’s Hawk also has partner delivery service online but wine is not available at this time. When everything else is being cancelled this summer due to Covid-19 the opportunity to dine with fellow foodies is as close to a festival atmosphere as we will get for an unknown length of time. Dining outdoors, you really get to enjoy the social community aspect of this favorite restaurant. Conveniently, for us diners with less knowledge of wines, Emily Wines, Master Sommelier and Chef McMillin have paired all the quality peak of the season food items with a wine, labeled on the menu by bin number. How convenient for novices in winery.
Recently, we made reservations to dine on the outside deck at Cooper’s Hawk in Burr Ridge. They have tables available in both the front and a back deck with an awning covering. Although a 90° day we were very comfortable with the shaded seating. The hostess who greeted us and took us to the table was apologetic about an abbreviated menu. We thought the menu was still quite extensive.
Our server, Rosa, was fun and helpful. We started out with the Over the Border Egg Rolls: Southwest Chicken, corn, black beans, cheese, accompanied by a fun trio of dipping sauces Tomatillo Salsa, Cilantro Ranch, and the addictive Cashew sauce. The dressing on the coleslaw had an Asian influence. The egg rolls were crispy on the outside and melt in your mouth yummy on the inside.
For our entrees we chose Chicken Madiera with mushrooms, Fontina cheese, Mary’s potatoes, and asparagus. It is a beautifully plated dish that is just luscious. Blackened Bleu Skirt Steak Salad is for fans of Bleu Cheese, crispy bacon and ice wedge lettuce. I was very happy and satiated with this meal. Chipotle Lime Chicken Salad was on of the lunch specials and received rave reviews. Braised short ribs Risotto was a generous hearty, savory dish with mushrooms, wine, shaved Parmesan and White Truffle Oil.
The desserts are made on site and generous enough to share. We had both the Cooper’s Hawk Valrhona Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut Ice Cream and Rosa’s favorite and highly recommended Key Lime Pie. Both desserts were so delicious. It is so nice to be dining outside in Phase Three of the Covid 19 Crises. It does our hearts good to enjoy the company of good friends over a scrumptious meal. Seeing others enjoy the atmosphere, good food, and wine is spirit renewing. Do make a reservation to dine al fresco at any of the Cooper’s Hawk Restaurants.
Photos: Courtesy of Cooper’s Hawk unless otherwise noted.