The large space across from Nordstrom that has served as the temporary location for stores under renovation at Easton now has a permanent resident. Originating from Illinois, Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant has made its way to the Easton community and is excited to bring its unique brand of wine expertise and culinary artistry to Columbus.
The space houses a two-level restaurant that includes a main dining room, mezzanine level, and even a private dining room. Overlooking the wine tasting area, the private dining room is a cozy but generously sized corner of the upstairs level that’s the perfect size for afternoon business meetings over lunch, and is even available upon reservation for private celebrations such as baby showers. Eventually, the space will also be soundproofed in order to provide an even more intimate environment. Like the rest of the restaurant, the mezzanine is lighted heavily by the natural sunlight filtering through the many windows on the second floor. The natural lighting throughout the whole restaurant makes an already large space feel even more warm and inviting.
Speaking of large, the staff at Cooper’s Hawk is huge. Over 200 staff members help keep the restaurant– which seats up to 370 patrons– running smoothly at all times. Not just concerned with serving customers, Cooper’s Hawk is all about educating patrons on its upscale casual dining offerings. Each staff member goes through a rigorous 8-day training program where they are schooled on everything about the restaurant and try all the foods, wines, and the restaurant’s other offerings. The idea behind it is to get customers to feel comfortable asking anyone about anything on the menu and for them to be able to get helpful and knowledgeable feedback. Everyone from the chefs to the waiters to the general manager himself has a friendly, approachable, and welcoming demeanor that’s intended to make you feel more like a member of their community rather than simply a customer.
With over 70 food items on the menu and 47 wines produced by Cooper’s Hawk, it can be more than a little intimidating to figure out which wine should be paired with what meal. But don’t worry if you’re not a vino connoisseur just yet; the menu itself serves as a bit of a cheat sheet. Next to every meal on the menu, a number is listed. This number corresponds to a grouping of wines that are compatible with that meal. Cooper’s Hawk is just as much about providing quality wines as it is interested in educating patrons about them. General Manager Tim Mahler shared with me a little insider tip on how to taste wines to discover your favorite. When tasting white wines, start with dry wines and move to sweet ones. With reds, begin with light bodied wines and move to full bodied.
The menu at Cooper’s Hawk also has something for everyone. Not only does their expansive casual dining menu cater to all palates with everything from soups and salads to shrimp, steak, and fish, but they are also keenly aware of other special dietary needs of their customers. For those health conscious diners, there’s the Life Balance menu, which has 16 items that are all 600 calories or less. The Gluten Free menu provides dining options for those with gluten restrictions. Even the kids menu goes above and beyond at Cooper’s Hawk, offering not just the typical hot dogs and chicken tenders found on most kids menus, but also such dishes as junior filet medallions and buttered noodles as an alternative to mac and cheese. A variety of desserts are available on the menu, in addition to the delectable handmade treats in the dessert cooler.
The Cooper’s Hawk wine experience is not limited to those 47 wines listed on the general menu. Members of its wine club enjoy access to 12 additional wines not featured on the menu, as well as many other “members only” perks. Patrons are also welcome to do a bit of wine tasting in Cooper’s Hawk’s tasting room. Every day except Sunday, the tasting room opens up a half hour before the restaurant actually opens for that very purpose; no reservation necessary. Also in the tasting room are wine-themed retail items, including t-shirts with such clever lines as “Love the wine you’re with,” mini-books, decorative plaques, and more. (My personal favorite was the long-sleeved tee that read, “My doctor says I need glasses” with 3 different glasses of wine underneath.)
With a little of something for everyone and wine expertise to spare, Cooper’s Hawk promises a restaurant experience unlike any other at Easton, just in time for the holidays.
More information can be found online at www.coopershawkwinery.com.