It's always a holiday at the Cooperage Inn. Warm, cheerful, amply decorated, the place mirrors the season. But this is more than a pretty set. The restaurant is very good.
Regulars and newcomers attend birthday bashes and anniversary receptions, office parties and family banquets. Or just arrive for a festive evening. Cooperage has enough space for all, in rooms with fireplaces, antique looks and Early American imagery. Roosters abound.
At first, the restaurant may remind you of familiar eateries festooned with nostalgia. And Cooperage does emphasize the traditional. But you'll find some surprises. Have your meatloaf - and small plates, too.
That meatloaf stands out, moist and true, with a hunter gravy that has the tang of barbecue sauce, flanked by husky garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables. It's rivaled by the savory chicken potpie, white meat and dark baked in a casserole with vegetables, under a puff-pastry crust. They're under the "down home cooking" section, along with a hefty, marinated and grilled pork chop with Red Delicious-apple chutney. Stout-braised short ribs with maple-roasted rings of delicata squash and a potato gratin will brace you for a frosty night. Tender roast duckling, with a dried-fruit stuffing, orange-peppercorn glaze and toasted almonds also is recommended, as is the juicy, stuffed Cornish hen. Seaside, go for the potato-and-onion crusted fluke, capped with caramelized banana, finished with a bell-pepper beurre blanc. Crab cakes with a peppery sauce rémoulade and roasted corn-and-tomato relish lead the appetizers. A sesame-chicken spring roll, atop a sweet-chile emulsion, with a peanut dipping sauce, is unexpected and fine. A potato-soup special and an amplified spin on Waldorf salad also are worth sampling. Dessert: apple-cranberry crisp, apple-pecan bread pudding, and to modernize the selection, an update on the Napoleon, with macaroon cookies and roasted pineapple.
Dry paella, skippable onion soup, standard baked clams, routine Key lime pie.
Merry and happy.