What a great party those 4 Rivers folks can throw! John and Monica Rivers were our hosts for a very special Scott Joseph’s Supper Club Party event on Friday, and it turned out to be one very fun event. We were sampling foods from Rivers’ new concept, The COOP, and everyone was eager to know when the Southern themed restaurant would open. No one from the organization would say for certain, but eagle-eyed guests could have found out by looking at the large office calendar across from Rivers’ office. (I’ll tell you in a moment.)
The 4 Rivers Headquarters is in a loft-like space that overlooks Park Avenue and Central Park (the ones in Winter Park, not New York, but give him a couple of more years). Even with about 120 guests milling about, the space never seemed crowded. Well, there was a bit of a gathering around the large test kitchen cook space as Rivers and some of his chefs demonstrated the shrimp and grits that will almost certainly be a favorite at The COOP. Elsewhere there were deviled eggs (with a bit of devilish sriracha on top); pimento cheese crostinis; three cheese grilled toasts topped with spicy arugula; mac and cheese, Charleston shrimp and sausage perloo; buttermilk chicken biscuits with maple-bourbon syrup; and fried chicken wings. If that wasn’t enough, cinnamon roll brioche bread pudding and Sweetie Pie shots were also available.
Wines were provided by our good friends at Rioja and included El Coto Rosado 20112; Marques de Riscal Proximo; El Coto Blanco 2012; Ramon Bilbau Crianza 2010; and my favorite, the Campo Viejo Garnacha 2012. The Viejo had wonderful strawberry, raspberry and red cherries notes and a soft, silky finish. Not that I ever finished — I made sure there was some in my wine glass all evening.
I did set the wine glass down long enough to sample the cocktails from Winter Park Distilling Company. Paul Twyford and Andrew L. Asher had created a couple of special cocktails for the evening, including a citrus Manhattan that I found quite delicious. I’ll have more about this exciting local business soon, but in the meantime, if you see something from Winter Park Distilling Company, grab it. Very high quality.
The cocktails were being poured at a makeshift bar towards the front of the office space. Just a bit down the hallway, on the way to the restrooms, was the big planning calendar. And there, smack dab on Friday, April 11, was the logo for The COOP. So as long as things go as planned (and the restaurant already has its certificate of occupancy) The COOP should be open for business at the end of this week.
I’m sure it will do well. Not just because the food is excellent, and Rivers knows how to run a smooth operation. But also because of his staff. In the many years that I have been reviewing restaurants, I’ve come to spot a happy crew. The Rivers crew is among the happiest. Why does that matter? Because it trickles down to the guests. If the staff love where they work, if they’ve been given the proper training, if they believe in the food they’re selling the guests pick up on that. They’re likely to be happy, too.
I know a lot of you were disappointed to miss out on this party. I wish we could have doubled the attendance — or do it once a month. But it’s time to move on to some other projects, and I’ve got some good ones planned. To make certain you don’t miss out on the next ones, be sure that you’re on my e-letter list. Recipients always get first crack at the tickets (the 4 Rivers event sold out in a matter of hours). You can sign up at this link to Scott’s Newsletter.
Thanks again to 4 Rivers, Rioja and Winter Park Distilling Company for a great time.