Update: Saturday April 19, 2014 -

The Coop has officially opened! Here are a few shots from our recent visit on a Saturday afternoon. The line, of course, was out the door…

The hours are:

Monday – Friday
11-2 and 5-9

Saturday
11-9

Sunday – Closed

The phone number is: 1-407-THE-COOP ((407) 843-2667) – They are not taking to -go orders yet, so you’ll have to wait in line for now!

Looking at the line at the Coop

Looking at the line at the Coop

Outdoor line

Outdoor line

Interior of The Coop - mismatched chairs and tables, family settings...

Interior of The Coop – mismatched chairs and tables, family settings…

The line at The Coop, inside!

The line at The Coop, inside!

Counter service - reminded me of Boston Market a little bit...

Counter service – reminded me of Boston Market a little bit…

The menu in the back.

The menu in the back.

I think it would help to label the dishes

I think it would help to label the dishes

Assembly line / Fast Casual concept

Assembly line / Fast Casual concept

Fried Chicken with Cinnamon bread pudding and mac-n-cheese sides at The Coop - the chicken was a bit too peppery today

Fried Chicken with Cinnamon bread pudding and mac-n-cheese sides at The Coop.

Shrimp N Grits

Shrimp N Grits with Tasso Ham

The Fried Seafood Basket at The Coop

The Fried Seafood Basket at The Coop

My friend's Fried Green Tomatoes and Mac-N-Cheese

My friend’s Fried Green Tomatoes and Mac-N-Cheese

Chicken n Waffles and watermelon from The Coop

Chicken n Waffles and watermelon from The Coop

Overall impressions on first visit, definitely worth a try, despite some missteps. The assembly line nature at the counter could be improved to enhance overall experience – it all seemed a bit rushed once getting to the front. The fried chicken was a bit too dry and there seemed to be a bit of a heavy hand with the black pepper today. The mac and cheese was fabulous, though, as was the shrimp and grits with tasso ham. I am sure they will figure out all the kinks and have a lot of success in the coming days, though.

The menu

Photo Apr 19, 4 28 40 PM

Photo Apr 19, 4 28 18 PM

Photo Apr 19, 4 28 25 PM

Photo Apr 19, 4 28 32 PM

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For the past year or so, Chef John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse has been quietly tilling away at the kitchen in search of the perfect recipe for fried chicken, quietly testing his recipes and hatching ideas in creating a new refined Southern menu for The Coop (http://asouthernaffair.com/), and the results are astounding.

To say my mind was blown when tasting some of the dishes at a recent preview of the menu is an understatement. The chicken and biscuit, for example, may sound innocuous at first, but the fried chicken, made with dark thigh meat instead of white breast meat – which tends to be dry, was tender and juicy while the biscuit itself was a little sweet and fluffy and together with the bourbon maple syrup – it was divine. I do reckon that bourbon maple syrup that they’ve come up with is going to be a favorite in any Southern kitchen for years to come.

Chicken and biscuits made with juicy fried dark chicken thigh meat

Chicken and biscuits made with juicy fried dark chicken thigh meat

John Rivers wants The Coop to be a place known for its refined, not “gourmet”, Southern comfort food, something that you’d feel welcome to eating at home on your porch on a weekend Florida afternoon, with dishes like the low country shrimp and grits, made with savory, flavorful grits cooked in a chicken/shrimp broth and tender sausage and tasso ham made from a home recipe. The menu has hints of both New Orleans Cajun cuisine and Carolinas low country southern food from the shrimp po boy sandwiches to the Charleston Shrimp Perloo, a dirty rice dish that’s a cousin of the jambalaya and more distantly the Spanish paella. The Coop is much more than about just fried chicken.

No wonder Visit Orlando – the official Tourism Bureau for Central Florida – among its list of “Top 10 Reasons for Visiting Orlando in 2014” included The Coop, the only local restaurant among a sea of theme park attractions and developments. Get ready for a very delightful March when The Coop opens its doors in Winter Park for the first time – it will be a year for fried chicken all around. The phone number is 407-The-COOP and the address is 610 West Morse Boulevard, Winter Park, FL 32789 – I suggest you bookmark it in your GPS/Google Maps now. The COOP will be open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and will be closed on Sundays. For more information, visit www.asouthernaffair.com.

Chef John Rivers presenting the Coop's Chicken and Waffles

Chef John Rivers presenting the Coop’s Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and Waffles with Bourbon Maple syrup at The Coop

Chicken and Waffles with Bourbon Maple syrup at The Coop

Shrimp Po Boy, influenced by New Orleans cajun cuisine

Shrimp Po Boy, influenced by New Orleans cajun cuisine

Charleston Shrimp Perloo - a rice dish from the Carolinas

Charleston Shrimp Perloo – a rice dish from the Carolinas

The Coop's Deviled Eggs

The Coop’s Deviled Eggs

Broccoli salad with cranberries, pine nuts, red onion

Broccoli salad with cranberries, pine nuts, red onion

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Low Country Shrimp and Grits with house made Tasso ham and sausage

Mac and 3 Cheeses - Gruyere, Parmesan, and Cheddar cheese

Mac and 3 Cheeses – Gruyere, Parmesan, and Cheddar cheese

Creamed corn fixin'

Creamed corn fixin’

Cornbread - really good - fluffy, light, sweet, some flakes of corn detected

Cornbread – really good – fluffy, light, sweet, some flakes of corn detected

Possible Menu at the Coop

Possible Menu at the Coop

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SONY DSC

PImento cheese, a southern classic

PImento cheese, a southern classic

Chicken Pot pie, so cute so little, so delicious

Chicken Pot pie, so cute so little, so delicious

Fried okra, very delicate fry

Fried okra, very delicate fry

Whoopie Pies - red velvet cake, peanut butter, and more

Whoopie Pies – red velvet cake, peanut butter, and more

SONY DSC

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