Where: 2568 E. Sunrise Blvd., The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale
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The 10th Florida location for the ever-expanding food and wine franchise is the largest Cooper’s Hawk yet, a 17,000-square-foot space at The Galleria that can accommodate up to 530 people. A sprawling Napa-inspired tasting room sets the experiential vibe; for $8, patrons can enjoy eight 1-ounce samples (which rotate each month) from the Cooper’s Hawk award-winning winery.
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Where most restaurants build wine menus around the cuisine, Cooper’s Hawk takes the opposite approach, using its wine selections as the gateway to its original kitchen offerings. “Wine with food is meant to build a connection,” says Alysia Gonzalez, a six-year Cooper’s Hawk veteran and general manager at The Galleria restaurant. “We’re making that idea comfortable for our guests by adding to the experience with some education.”
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The seemingly endless menu puts a creative, chef-driven and visually striking spin on modern/casual fare (and, of course, pairs each dish with a suggested wine). Appetizer highlights include a platter of artisanal cheeses with candied bacon; brussels sprouts cooked to a crisp and bathed in sweet Thai chili with sesame-sriracha aioli; and bacon-wrapped Mexican Drunken Shrimp (pictured) served atop fresh guacamole with tequila lime butter sauce.
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Here’s the beef: While the red wine-braised short ribs, bourbon-lacquered barbecue pork chops and chimichurri-rubbed skirt steak all draw raves, meat lovers shouldn’t miss the ginger soy-glazed New York strip (pictured). The restaurant uses a sealed vacuum tumbler that tenderizes and marinates the center cut to perfection, replicating a two-day process within 20 minutes.
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There’s something for everyone on the foodie front, including chopped salads, pasta, chicken and seafood dishes, and a low-calorie menu. If there’s an agreed-upon favorite, it’s probably the gnocchi carbonara with chicken and sage peas in Parmesan garlic cream sauce (paired with Lux chardonnay)—although there’s plenty to be said for the fresh, creamy risotto offerings, including a shrimp and scallop mix with white truffle oil. (Pictured: Short Rib Risotto)
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• Cooper’s Hawk hosts the largest wine club in the United States; benefits to the more than 400,000 members include access to limited production wines of the month, tasting events, cooking demonstrations and even dining-centric travel experiences.
• Among the most-honored Cooper’s Hawk wines on the menu: pinot noir (42 wine competition awards), gewürztraminer (36), malbec (35) and barbera (34).
• The Camille Brave (2016), a zinfandel-heavy blend (with syrah and mourvèdre) that delights with red fruit flavors and spice, is the brainchild of Cooper’s Hawk’s master sommelier, Emily Wines, one of only 26 women in the Americas to earn that distinction.
• Happy hour, which runs 3-6 p.m. during the workweek, is available throughout the restaurant.