One would imagine that this is the food that southerners go home to. You know how people say, this reminds me of my grandma’s cooking? Grandma’s cooking always soothes the soul. Well, grandma could never make all of these fine foods, at least not in one sitting. Maybe, over the course of a week, grandma could whip up all of these menu items. The enormous variety of southern specialties will satisfy the most discerning palates. That’s if you are into southern food. If not, then this is not the place for you. But, bring it on for those of us who love all types of food.
That all identifiable barn red exterior color suggests exactly what to expect. Purposeful aged writings and finishes makes the place feel like it has been there forever. Well this space has been there forever, but this concept is fairly new. The new made to look like old, alludes to the menu direction. Older techniques and recipes handed down from generations makes it to the counter serving line. As in The Coop’s older sister 4 Rivers Smokehouse, this is counter service. You walk in this side door, if the line does not wrap around the side street and around the building, to one side of the main dining room. Closer to the counter is a large selection of cold bottled beverages, grab one. Go to the first person in the assembly line and place your order. That person passes a tray to the next person who starts assembling your food. Then passes to the next person who then passes it to the cashier. Simple enough. The hardest part is figuring out what not to order. Everything looks amazing and mouthwatering. The attendants will offer you samples to taste and help you decide. You then proceed, food tray in hand, to the beverage station for fountain drinks or Iced Teas. Grab a cup of Cheerwine soda and be prepared to get hooked. This stuff is liquid crack. Then seat yourself on one of the many mismatched tables and chairs.
Every table and chair in this restaurant is mismatched. Have you ever gone to a place that has evolved over time? The seating is made to appear as another set of tables and chairs was added after a period of time and then another and yet again another. Isn’t that how aging happens? We build and evolve. Here again, new embraces old. The result is a warm inviting space that really wraps like only a grandma can. However, don’t expect a table by yourself. Most of these dining tables seat more than 4, some are 6 and 8. Be prepared to sit next to someone you don’t know. What better way to make new friends than break bread? The concept is genius.
The sun room adjacent to the main dining room resembles what would be found in a majestic southern home. Here, the large glass pane wrap around windows bring the wonderful outdoors in. Bead board ceiling throughout the entire interior rounds out the southern decor. There are several picnic style benches on the outdoor patio. Cobblestone floors and overhead string lights adds to the mystique of being in the great southern outdoors. I can only imagine what this will look like at night. Enough gawking about decor, let’s get to the food!
Here is the serving counter. Can you really figure out what not to order?
Low Country Shrimps and Grits – Plumb, tender, juicy shrimp, that is surprisingly not over done even though it was on a food steamer line. Little nibblets of sausage was a welcomed surprise. Flavors were explosive. Grits was creamy with enough grain to know you are eating grits and not porridge.
Fried Chicken – Simple fried chicken. Is it? No, these babies are given a healthy dosage of black pepper that really enhances the flavor. Coating is crisp and tender, meat is moist and juicy. These are fried to order, so be careful with the heat. What’s in a piece of chicken? There are many places that does good chicken. If you grocery store grub, Publix and Walmart does good chicken. If you fast food binge, KFC and Popeyes are really good. Popeyes fill my cravings for seasoned chicken. But how many sit down restaurants have actually good chicken, not many. Thanks to a restaurant that puts the bird first.
Chicken N Dumplings; Creamed Corn; Rice and Beans; Mac and Cheese – Can life get any better? I have an affinity for dumplings. These were ample little darlings that plop in the mouth and disappear. Oh the joy! The ecstasy of dumplings made me almost forgot that there is chicken in the dish. Darn good chicken in creamy sauce. Creamed corn was creamy but the corn still stood out. Rice and Beans was an explosion with every spoonful. I have a deep connection with black eyes peas. Love it. Mac and Cheese was all cheddar. Bold creamy flavors of cheddar made no excuses that there is cheese in there. A plate like this is just sinfully good.
This is a good start. I’ll work my way down the menu and savor all the goodies in the restaurant. It could take a while, but like my affair with 4 Rivers Smokehouse BBQ, I could easily make it through this menu. The Coop has touched on all senses that make a diner want to return. For a place that is counter service, they have dining room attendants who are cordial and gracious. Many establishments offer plastic “To go” containers, The Coop offers paper. Why don’t I care for plastic? I can’t pull it out of the refrigerator and stick it in the microwave. With paper, I can. Thank you, Coop!