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Cooper's Brick Oven Wine Bar


David McDuff
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I headed out to dinner (with Philadining) at Cooper's Brick Oven Wine Bar earlier this week. Even though the wine bar and pizzas both left something to be desired, there's still a decent vibe at the place and a sense of potential in the kitchen. The duck confit was pretty damn good and the brussels sprouts were nothing to sneeze at (though they could have used some bacon!).

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My full write-up is a bit too detailed to re-post here, but you can find it -- along with some more photos -- at Cooper's Brick Oven Wine Bar.

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I'm in pretty solid agreement with David's assessment of Coopers, so I'm not sure I have much to add, except maybe some pix...

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Pizza with Fennel Sausage and Banana Peppers

The flavor combination was nice here, even though I wasn't completely knocked-out by the sausage (from Fiorella's.) But the pizza as a whole failed on two counts: the crust was soggy, probably inevitable when overloaded with toppings as it was; and as you can probably see, it looks kind of like it was assembled by throwing ingredients into a darkened room. I certainly don't need meticulous geometric patterns on my pizza, but come on, some slices had heaps of sausage or peppers, other slices, almost nothing at all.

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Pizza with Braised Shortrib, Port sauce, Horseradish Cream.

I thought this was very tasty, although it was suffering even more from sogginess, the center of the pizza was more of a stew... It was enjoyable, but sadly not even close competition for the similarly-composed shortrib flatbread at Amada.

On top of the sogginess, I just found the crust to have no character whatsoever. Even the crispy edges, which did achieve a light crackery texture, had little flavor. Both pizzas could have used a few more minutes in the oven, but I don't think even that would have fixed all the problems with the crust.

Just as we were losing faith, the Duck Confit arrived to save the day.

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This was one of the better confits that either of us have had around town. Not only was the duck still moist and very flavorful, the accompaniments were terrific. Potatoes were tender, light, slightly tart, with a subtle perfume of tarragon, or some similar herb. Frisée was fresh and bitter, a perfect foil for the duck. Halved brussels sprouts were barely recognizable, having been caramelized down to sweet black clumps - which is to say that they were delicious!

We'd also ordered a side of Maple Brussels Sprouts which we had enjoyed until we encountered these dark-roasted ones, infused with duck fat. The tamer maple version seemed a bit dull in contrast, and could have used a little touch of something, but they were well-cooked, tender and nicely roasty.

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I wasn't especially thrilled with any of the wines we tried, although it's an attractively unconventional list. It's a bit on the pricey side for the level of wines being served. Beer selection is good, with an interesting variety on the taps and in bottles.

Despite my complaints about the pizza, I still liked the place, and I'm interested in trying a few more things from the menu. As David had mentioned, the elegance of that Duck Confit indicates that there's significant talent in the kitchen, it just might take a bit of exploration to see what it is that they do best. Oddly, it doesn't seem to be the brick oven pizzas, around which the place is based.

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Wow. :blink: That sausage and pepper pizza is just downright sloppy and unappetizing looking. I'm kind of surprised because Jake's always had pretty high standards for food and presentation. That really does look like it "got dressed in the dark".

You have to hope that was an aberration. Maybe the chef was off that night? :unsure:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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i can't believe a less-than-stellar sausage came out of fiorella's.  i frickin love their stuff.  was it spicy fennel or just regular?  i always get the spicy.

Yeah, that's what I was thinking too, I'm usually impressed with Fiorella's sausages, but this one seemed a little plain. Not bad, but not distinctive either. It certainly wasn't spicy, it was just billed as Fiorella's Fennel Sausage.

I suppose it's a lot to expect, but I guess I was hoping for something transcendent, like the fennel sausage at Delorenzo's (Hudson st) in Trenton...

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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