The Coop: A Southern Affair, Offers Refined Southern Comfort Food [Review]

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The Coop: A Southern Affair is the newest fast-casual concept from John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse. The much anticipated restaurant opened today in Winter Park as planned for lunch service.

Two large, bright dining rooms are filled with large family-style tables. Make new friends and share a table or bring the family down for a home cooked meal that will  keep your kitchen spotless.

Two large, bright dining rooms are filled with large family-style tables. Make new friends and share a table or bring the family down for a home cooked meal that will keep your kitchen spotless.

Upon entering the bright and open main dining room, customers place their orders at the front counter and receive drinks, sides and salad items along with a number. The friendly servers will deliver all of the cooked to order items table-side when ready. The Coop represents southern cooking and charm at it finest. With entrees priced $14.99 and under, including sides, The Coop also offers a great dining value.

The large beverage cooler is stocked with with iced down retro & beloved southern bottled sodas. (Cheerwine was stocked.)

The large beverage cooler is stocked with with iced down retro & beloved southern bottled sodas. (Cheerwine was stocked.)

I had the pleasure of sampling the menu in the weeks prior to opening and I’m happy to report that each item I tasted was delicious. Some menu items are downright, sinfully delicious.

Fried green tomatoes with a tradition cornmeal coating. Seasoned well, a nice nibble to start a meal.

Fried green tomatoes with a tradition cornmeal coating. Seasoned well, a nice nibble to start a meal.

Fried green tomatoes, Pimento cheese or deviled eggs make a great starter and will still leave room for your main and dessert if you share.

Pimento Cheese & Baguette Chips for $4.99 has a nice flavor with or without the bacon topper.

Pimento Cheese & Baguette Chips for $4.99 has a nice flavor with or without the bacon topper.

4 to an order, for $3.99 6 for $5.49 or 12 for $8.99.

4 to an order, for $3.99 6 for $5.49 or 12 for $8.99.

Also under the Nibbles section of the menu, The Coop’s Buffalo wings.  The Buffalo sauce is a southern spin on the classic offering a tangy, sweet heat on the meaty wings. Enjoy with either house-made Blue Cheese or Ranch dressing.

Sweet and spicy sauce is a nice twist to the meaty Buffalo wings. (Order of 6 for $6.99) Ranch or Blue Cheese available.

Sweet and spicy sauce is a nice twist to the meaty Buffalo wings. (Pictured, the small order of 6 for $6.99) Ranch or Blue Cheese available.

After the starters, choose from southern classics of Chicken N’ Dumplings, Smothered Pork Chops, Fried Catfish, Low Country Shrimp & Grits or get ready to tackle some delicious fried chicken. The chicken dinners are offered by the piece or you can order for a crowd in the larger family meal or buckets.

Chicken N' Biscuits, with Maple Bourbon Glaze and house pickles.

Chicken N’ Biscuits, with Maple Bourbon Glaze and house pickles.

The fried chicken is juicy and delicious, the savory coating is crunchy and well seasoned on my 2 initial visits. I hope that The Coop plans on selling this perfectly seasoned flour for our use at home. Boneless fried chicken breasts are tender and flavorful; the star of the Chicken N’ Biscuits and Chicken N’ Waffles.

Chicken Tenders N' Waffles

Chicken  N’ Waffles ($9.99)  and Organic Whole Roasted Chicken ($13.99)

I chatted with guests at the next table, who fully enjoyed their shrimp and grits and the substantial chicken and waffles. The Maple Bourbon Glaze will have you licking your fingers, and your plate, clean! So will the pictures and review posted by Veronica at Crave Central on HypeOrlando.com, check it out here.

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The New Orleans Po Boy, pictured with Oysters $12.99

I enjoyed the The New Orleans Po Boy with Oysters, a hearty sandwich filled with plump, fried oysters. The Creole mustard sauce is the perfect finish to this sandwich. The New Orleans Po Boy is a available with Shrimp, Catfish or Fried Green Tomato.

The Fried Green Tomato Po Boy, with Fried Green Tomatoes, fried shrimp and oysters.

The Fried Green Tomato Po Boy, with Fried Green Tomatoes, fried shrimp and oysters.

Grilled meatloaf melt -$9.99

Grilled meatloaf melt -$9.99

My guest ordered the Grilled Meatloaf Melt sandwich, a thick slab of Mom’s Meatloaf topped with thick cut bacon, melted cheese, BBQ sauce and served on Texas Toast. The meatloaf was juicy and well seasoned, we’ll be back for the full dinner portion of Mom’s Meatloaf very soon.

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Skillet Cornbread, Mac & 3 Cheese, Fried Okra, Southern Collards, Creamed Corn, Stewed Okra & Tomato

The sides are plentiful and a nice portion to share if you want to try more than one. On the menu you’ll note that “Plenty” is 2 sides and “Generous” is 3 sides and a cornbread. Macaroni and cheese is made with 3 cheeses and you can taste the cheesy goodness in each bite. The buttery crumb topping is a nice accent and I would be happy to enjoy this delicious side for an entree. The Skillet Cornbread is buttery, with a delicate crumb and a hint of sweetness- so good. Fried okra is cut into bite sized pieces and crisp-cooked, not one mushy bite in my serving. Collards are nicely cooked and seasoned, light on the vinegar. The creamed corn is a stand out; the creamy side is filled with plump, sweet corn and not pulverized kernels. Stewed Okra & Tomato packs a savory zing. The rest of the Fixins selections include Smashed Potatoes, French fries, Squash Casserole, Hoppin’ John, Anson Mills Creamy Grits and more. So much more!

Hand pies in seasonal offerings are easy to grab and go, or enjoy after your meal.

Hand pies in seasonal offerings are easy to grab and go, or enjoy after your meal.

Try to save room for dessert, as there are many choices in the Sweetie Pie case. Moon pies, banana pudding, hand pies and mini desserts are all portable and make a nice treat at home if you are too stuffed from dining in. Cinnamon roll bread pudding is a revelation. Read more about the desserts and get John Rivers Banana Pudding recipe over at TasteCookSip on HypeOrlando.com

Moon Pies are available in an assortment of flavors.  3 for $3.99 Pictured: one Peanut butter moon pie.

Moon Pies are available in an assortment of flavors. 3 for $3.99 Pictured: one Peanut butter moon pie.

Pie Shots, in seasonal Blueberry and Mississippi Mud $2.25 each

Pie Shots, in seasonal Blueberry and Mississippi Mud $2.25 each. The Chocolatey Mississippi Mud is rich and satisfying. Practically guilt-free in this petite portion size!

Be sure to request your Coop Troupe card at check out, a free rewards card which entitles you to various goodies as you dine and a surprise on your birthday. Like 4 Rivers, The Coop offers takeout and catering. If you drive by and the grand opening lines are too long, consider getting takeout! Our service inside was very friendly and we saw some familiar faces (staff from 4R Winter Park) who were happy to share some of their personal favorites.

It will take several more visits to figure out our menu favorites, so we relate to guests checking out The Coop for the first time. Check back here for updates, as we continue to taste through the expansive Coop menu.

The Coop on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: I was a guest in connection with media preview tastings. No other form of compensation was received and the opinions in this post are my own. Return visits from grand opening on, were on me. Cheers!

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4 thoughts on “The Coop: A Southern Affair, Offers Refined Southern Comfort Food [Review]

  1. Seriously, how much did they pay you? You need to go back, the place is a disorganized mess and the food is horrible. Even the host suggest the meatloaf over the signature chicken. Have you ever eaten real Southern food?

    • Papi, I haven’t been back in to The Coop since the end of May and to answer your questions 1) I was not paid for my review and 2) I eat and cook real Southern food regularly. One of the things I love about Southern food is the regional variances. Having lived under the Mason-Dixon line since I was 10, I’ve experienced quite a bit. The Coop meatloaf was ordered and very much enjoyed, on one of my visits. To your point, the fried chicken seems to not be consistent on the cook or the balance of seasonings in the flour. I know this from pictures I’ve seen and friends I’ve spoken to, but on my 4 visits it was cooked well, seasoned appropriately and enjoyed by various people. Hopefully, any kinks that The Coop is experiencing as a new concept will be worked out quickly. In the meantime, I passed by there last week and the line for dinner was to the door. Maybe they are doing something right.

  2. Pingback: Crave Central | John Rivers unleashes his southern cowboy charm at the newest restaurant in Winter Park: The Coop

  3. Pingback: Taste Cook Sip | The Coop Grand Opening Recap and Bananna Dream Pudding Cups Recipe

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