Cooper's Hawk Restaurant and "Winery" (Tampa)
This place on Boy Scout Blvd. opened about two months ago to booming business. This is all you have to know: food-wise it is a gussied-up Crapcake Factory. Wine-wise, it only features its own mediocre to bad wines, and has a large tasting room which makes you feel like you are in any of the "nice" tasting areas of any Napa behemoth winery.
All I can think of when I think of this place/concept is that you can put lipstick on a pig but that pig won't know how not to have 1,232,872 items on its menu; or how to make sense of a winery in Illinois which grows 369 grape varieties; or how to spend millions on an interior that leaves you feeling cold and empty and like you are at Cracker Barrel, all at the same time.
These may all be exaggerations, but only slight exaggerations. Regarding the food: the only thing that makes this menu slightly less horrific than Crapcake's is that it is on about 6 (enormous) pages, not 15. All of the food is unbelievably expensive. These two restaurants are about the only two places which genuinely defy my business comprehension. The prices are just so incredibly high -- and the food so impossibly mediocre -- that I just can't wrap my head around the amount of business they receive. For lunch, the only mercy provided is a sandwich/salad combo for $9.99. Everything else goes way, way up from there, and while I have only been three times (it would take 9 years to get through the menu), nothing I have tasted is anything I would like to meet my palate ever again.
The place is cavernous. I think there was some other restaurant in there before. It is the same Starbucky/Seasons 52/Mid-range-corporate-hotel-chain decor I have described in other posts. It is nice in the way that a third quarter profit and loss statement in a maroon faux-leather presentation cover is nice.
But really what prevents me from every voluntarily returning to this place is the wine. I don't know much about wine. But I do know there is a reason it is not grown in certain places. I would give any wine from Illinois (or any other new area) a chance, but at bottom, it just has to be something special. From what I know about this place, it is a Chicago concept based on a winery somewhere in Illinois. So far, so good. They have a chain of restaurants throughout Illinois (and maybe other states), and they are hitting Florida hard. Apparently one is opening in Orlando this year, and another in Miami later on. This is where it gets bad. The restaurants ONLY serve the wine from the winery. None of which would be a problem if the vast majority of the wines did not taste horrible. We have done two tastings (about 16 different wines!), and I have only wanted to finish two of them. I am not a picky wine snob; this stuff just isn't well-made.
This place is close to where we live, so I want to like it, but why do they make it so hard? I'd like to hear from other people who have sampled.