- Cooper’s Hawk makes its own wines found on the menu. Diners can sample tastes before ordering a bottle.
- Diners can have their red wines aerated at the table, a grand spectacle.
- Don’t think food isn’t important. The menu offers 110 options, including vegetarian, gluten-free and low-calorie options.
Wine lovers, rejoice. The Des Moines metro lands a new restaurant that specializes in pairing wines with food.
Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant opens in Clive on Dec. 5, taking over a plot of land that formerly housed Granite City Food & Brewery. The brewery opted to close in March 2020, and Cooper’s Hawk swooped in to raze the building and build the new 11,300-square-foot location at the corner of University Avenue and 128th Street.
Cooper’s Hawk’s goal is to bring Napa Valley to Clive, making the brand’s own wines and offering a wine club for people to get better acquainted with the wines available.
“If you don’t like a wine, it’s a bad wine for you,” said Tom Koenigsberg, the chief marketing officer and brand strategist for the company. His comment is meant as recognition that not everyone likes all wines, and people should find a wine they like, an overriding philosophy for Cooper’s Hawk.
A wine lover’s paradise
Wine lovers of every stage from beginner to pro can sample four wines for $10. Tasting notes give drinkers an idea of what flavors to find in a wine: red plum and black cherry in a tempranillo, blackberry and black currant in a Meritage.
The notes include a flavor profile that shows just how much sweetness, acidity, body, tannins and alcohol the wine contains, along with the grape origin (Rioja, Span, or Mendocino County, California, for example), the wine’s personality (“chocolatey and rich” or “pretty and spicy,” for example) and what types of food the wine pairs well with.
The upscale chain out of Orland Park, Illinois, on the southwest side of Chicago opened in 2005 after founder Tim McEnery was on a date at a winery that was going really well and he didn’t want it to end. The winery didn’t have a restaurant, and the idea to combine a winery with a restaurant clicked in McEnery’s head.
Now the brand has 50ish locations spanning Kansas City, Missouri, to Miami with more on the way to Arizona, Illinois and more in 10 states. The Clive location marks the first in Iowa.
McEnery, by the way, married Dana, the woman he was on a date with.
Take a walk through Cooper’s Hawk
Diners walk into a tasting room and gift shop at the front of the restaurant. Here, visitors can sample wine flights or tastings and pick up wine glasses, aerators, chocolates, cheese knives, cutting boards, and bottles and bottles of wine.
Keep walking forward to the bar area, and the host stand. Turn right to walk down a hallway to the dining room, where customers can watch their meals prepared in an open kitchen. Everything at Cooper’s Hawk is made from scratch, so the barbecue maple glaze on the pretzel-crusted pork chops and the giardiniera on a chicken dish are made in house. Cooper’s Hawk works with a Chicago family, who makes the gnocchi the restaurant serves by hand.
What on the menu at Cooper’s Hawk?
The restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily with most dishes leaning into American fare with a hint of Asian ingredients in some.
Diners can start with a candied bacon and artisan cheese plate for $23.99, a batch of crispy Brussels sprouts with sweet Thai chili for $16.99, or drunken shrimp, a gluten-free dish with bacon-wrapped shrimp and a tequila lime butter for $19.99. Chef Nick Borgia said that the Brussels sprouts and drunken shrimp started as chef’s specials and by popular demand joined the permanent menu.
For entrees, the restaurant serves seafood dishes such as a soy ginger Atlantic salmon for $30.99, and Parmesan-crusted mahi mahi for $32.99, as well as hearty chicken piccata for $22.99, and churrasco grilled steak for $38.99. One section of the menu spans burgers and sandwiches, including a crispy buttermilk chicken sandwich and the bleu cheese and crispy onion burger, both for $18.99, while another focuses on pastas and risottos, touching on a braised short rib risotto for $32.99 and a baked Parmesan shrimp scampi for $24.99.
Vegetarian dishes also make an appearance, with options such as roasted vegetable enchiladas and sweet corn tomato risotto, both for $22.99, as do gluten-free items, noted on the menu.
From 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., diners can order lunch-sized portions of spaghetti and meatballs ($17.99), gnocchi with roasted buttermilk squash ($16.99), and chicken madeira ($19.99).
Another section on the 110-item menu features dishes under 600 calories: a $15.99 turkey burger, a $32.99 grilled tenderloin medallions, and a $31.99 blackened ahi tuna.
Each Cooper’s Hawk has its own design, with new ones in Arizona taking on a more Southwest feel and some in the Chicago area sporting an industrial feel. In Clive, the vibe is all about a chic modern aesthetic with a living wall of plants and black appointments set off by tan leather booths and light woods on the tables and chairs that pepper the dining room. When the weather warms, the restaurant will open its 600-square-foot patio.
Cooper’s Hawk makes its own wines
And of course, the star of the show at Cooper’s Hawk is the wine. The restaurant buys grapes from around the world to make its own pinot noir, chardonnay or Aussie GSM, a blend of grenache, shiraz and malbec grapes. Overall, the company makes almost 60 different wines, and sells only its own wines in its restaurants. Cooper’s Hawk also produces 12 wines of the month each year, along with an ice wine, a port-like Nightjar, and mulled wines and sangrias.
Diners who order a bottle of red wine will have it aerated at the table, a grand spectacle that encourages other customers to crane their necks to see the glass contraption and then request the same. Customers can then pour their own glasses table side.
“The wine comes first and then it’s paired with the food,” said Erin Vainer, the senior marketing specialist at Cooper’s Hawk.
The restaurant boasts 600,000 members in its wine club. Starting at $19.99 a month, members get access to a different bottle of wine every month, a special wine pairing dinner, and discounts on bottles of wine, takeout and retail products. Members even have a chance to go on wine trips to the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy.
“We create a community for our wines,” Koenigsberg said.
Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant, 12801 University Ave., Clive; 515-513-3330
Open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.