The COOP A Southern Affair

The COOP A Southern Affair
The Coop A Southern Affair
The Coop is the second concept to launch in Winter Park, FL by Chef John Rivers.


Restaurant Preview on Park Avenue

I received an invite for a Scott Joseph Supper Club preview of The COOP menu, a new restaurant concept from the Rivers crew… A Southern Affair… Where? In the headquarters test kitchen of course! I could not turn down the exclusive opportunity for A: Test Kitchen (we could stop there but…), B: Meeting John Rivers in person, C: A cooking demonstration by the man himself!

Cooking Demonstration

coop chef rivers 1

coop chef rivers 2

Watch this video where John Rivers presents The COOP. He talks about local purveyors and a few of his favorite restaurants.

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Around the Office at Winter Park HQ
coop menu board
coop rivers test kitchen 1
cowboy kitchen mission
cowboy kitchen first menu

Okay, NOW let’s get on with drooling over the good stuff…

The Tasting Menu!

low country shrimp n grits

Low Country Shrimp & Grits
Spicy Tasso Tomato Reduction, Creamy Anson Mills Grits

Chef plated this dish with a generous helping of smoked ham, fine sliced green onions, and a splash of hot sauce. The perfectly creamed grits gave way to delicately simmered shrimp with a subtle hit of pepper and tomato acidity. The balance made me pause a few moments while the entire test kitchen and its audience fell into a distant background murmur.

buttermilk chicken n biscuit

Buttermilk Chicken N’ Biscuits 
Maple-Bourbon Drizzle

Served appetizer-style, these wholesome fried chicken bites nestled in a delicate blanket of buttery, sticky-sweet goodness perfect for sharing.  Served here with house peppered dill pickle.

fried chicken

Fried Chicken Wings
Homemade Honey Buffalo Sauce | Maple-Bourbon Drizzle


Charleston Shrimp & Sausage Perloo
Florida Shrimp, Benton Bacon, Lake Meadow Red & Green Peppers

maple bourbon drizzle

Maple-Bourbon Drizzle

Hello! Once I recovered from the thrill of this lovely light glaze presented in a cast iron dutch oven with a ladle *breathe*,  I was able to drizzle a nice spoonful over the famous fried chicken from Heaven. Yes, from Heaven. YUM!

coop deviled eggs

Deviled Eggs
Lake Meadow Organic, Goat Cheese, Dill

Creating a deviled egg for any occasion or nod to virtually any area of the globe is certainly a trend on the food circuit, heightened by up-swinging southern interest. While I’ve personally turned a number of the boiled delectables into a taste of the nations, you’ll not find such adventure at The COOP. What you will experience is a blessed perfection hailing to old-fashioned farm egg. Shared sentiments include my love of local organic dairy, and endorsement of Lake Meadow Naturals sustainable farming practices. A Sriracha dot adds liquid heat that ground cayenne or smoked paprika cannot.

pimento cheese
Pimento Cheese
Who loves pimento cheese? We all do, right?

grilled cheese

Three Cheese Grilled Toasts
Fontina, Gruyere, Cheddar, Arugula

Nothing short of comfort food, this grilled cheese was the perfect bite to fill the belly with love.

macaroni and cheese

COOP Mac N’ Cheese
Creamy Three Cheese Combination, Toasted Panko

I could tell this was my grandmother’s macaroni and cheese before I tasted it. The bread crumb baked crust, the way the sauce snugly bathed the noodles in a committed and majestic coat, not too saucy, not too dry, just right. How did I know this before sampling? Because I know southern too, and this dish my friends, is perfection. That’s not to say I may or may not be competing against the crew in the O-Town MacDown in August!

cinnamon roll bread pudding

Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding

coop cookies n cream moon pie

COOP Moon Pies
Cookies & Cream

peanut butter moon pie

COOP Moon Pies
Peanut Butter

Rioja Wine

Wine Program Provided by Rioja Wines


Winter Park Distilling Co. coop winter park distilling 2 coop fruitstrawberry mojito

Strawberry Mojito
Dog Island Rum, Fresh Lime Juice, Mint Simple Syrup, Muddled Strawberries, Club Soda

A twist on the traditional, this was a favorite of the ladies in attendance.  When asked which cocktail I’d prefer, my response was, “I prefer a gentleman’s drink. SO I’ll have the Manhattan.”

Citrus Manhatan

Citrus Manhattan (plus the cinnamon bread pudding to round out the bourbon)
Bear Gully Classic Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon, sweet vermouth, grapefruit bitters, orange bitters, blood orange liquor

To be fair, I’d estimate this beverage was 95% bourbon, 5% the remaining ingredients, and definitely confirmed as not a weak mix, care of Winter Park Distilling Company. Certainly the best pour I’ve had since my mixologist friend had a party, and also local and hand crafted for a super bonus topper to the evening.

Gift Bags

The Coop guest gifts

The COOP Guest Gift Bags
Famous fried chicken flour, maple bourbon drizzle, The COOP magnet, The COOP Teaser Menu

The COOP will be opening soon at 610 W. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, FL and can be reached by phone at 407-THE-COOP. You can also follow on Facebook and check out their Website.