The Cooper Craft Kitchen & Bar

by Heather Carney Taste Oct 2014

This rustic Palm Beach Gardens hot spot mixes seasonal, healthy dishes with traditional classics to create an approachable, upscale dining experience.

Chef Adam Brown's favorite dishes:

Herb-grilled Florida snapper

Loch Duart Salmon 'A La Plancha'

Red and black quinoa pilaf

Kale and Florida watermelon salad

No one wants more of the same.

Owner Richard Rosenthal and his team knew that when they dreamed up The Cooper Craft Kitchen & Bar – a restaurant that fills the farm-to-table void along the popular PGA Boulevard corridor.

The rustically decorated Cooper got a late start when it opened in May, just as season was winding down. But the difficult timing hasn’t stopped this restaurant from gaining a devout following – it picked up momentum all summer long, rolling it into season.

The restaurant provides a comfortable, warm, up-scale dining experience that uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients to create small plates and signature dishes – something that the Connecticut-based Max Restaurant Group owners and Executive Chef Adam Brown thought was missing in this area.

“It’s nothing new – I’m not saying I’m the first,” Brown says on the trending farm-to-table concept. “But there wasn’t something like this on PGA.”

Some of the best dishes at The Cooper are seafood-based, including the porcini-dusted diver scallops, the Key West pink shrimp dishes and the herb-grilled Florida snapper. “It’s whatever is swimming up the coast,” Brown, who was formerly the executive chef at Burt & Max’s Bar and Grille in Delray Beach, says.

And don’t forget about the popular Farmer’s Market Vegetable Palette – a completely vegan and gluten-free entrée comprised of seasonal vegetables. In the summertime, the dish showcased a bright array of artichokes, corn, edamame, fava bean succotash and braised kale.

“People are looking for lighter, healthier fare – we’re trying to make those items more approachable,” Brown says.

Despite descriptions like “gluten free” and “farm to table,” the chef says the dishes aren’t meant to be trendy. The restaurant proves that it’s here to stay with classics like a 16-ounce Delmonico steak, beer-braised mussels and even a gooey grilled cheese.

The wide range of offerings is meant to please all palates, but not in The Cheesecake Factory kind of way, adds Brown.

“We’ll have six to eight people dining together – one has a steak and another has a gluten-free dish,” he says. “It’s a complete dining experience.”

The variety doesn’t stop at the food. The menu also boasts crafted cocktails like the Bees Knees martini, and a good selection of Florida-based craft beers, such as Boynton Beach’s Due South Caramel Cream and Oakland Park’s Funky Buddha Floridian. And, of course, more traditional diners can select from the wine list.

The restaurant seats up to 145 people inside and 65 outside. Reservations are recommended on Friday and Saturday nights.

With time to work out the kinks, The Cooper is prepped and ready to grow into a busy season.

The Cooper Craft Kitchen & Bar / 4610 PGA Blvd., Ste. 100, Palm Beach Gardens / thecooperrestaurant.com