I don’t get invited to many dinner parties. It may be because I do so much fine dining that my friends are too intimidated to cook for me. Or it may be because I grow quickly bored with table conversations and tend to wander about the premises, forcing hosts to put up the kiddy gates to keep me penned in. Or it could be because inviting me over to your place for dinner pretty much guarantees that I’ll be writing up a review for the next day’s blog.

Foie gras with wine plums
Foie gras with wine plums

Robert Cooper, however, knows no such fear – partly because he’s a pretty damn good cook, and partly because he’s trained his dog to attack anyone who wanders into the master bedroom. And last night, as their way of thanking us for the chocolate party, Rob and his lovely wife Hilary had us over for dinner. “Hope you’re hungry,”said Rob as we walked in the door. “I prepared a four course meal.”

“Oh, I’m hungry,”I assured him. “I haven’t eaten since lunch!”

“What’s this?”he asked as I handed him a bag containing three boxes full of pastries.

“I got these for the party I’m going to after dinner,”I joked. “So if you can just put them aside for me.”

“Oh, you’re going to David Blue’s apartment-warming party?”

“Uh, no. These are for us.” And then: “David Blue is having an apartment-warming party?”

“I’m making dessert,”Rob informed me as he took the bag and everyone headed into the kitchen. “Chocolate waffles with home made ice cream.”

Wait. David Blue is having an apartment-warming party?

My biggest pet peeve with dinner parties is the old bait and switch. They tell you to come for a certain time and then don’t end up serving the meal until one, two, sometimes three hours later! Seriously, if I wanted to wait that long to eat, I’d go back to Restaurant Connor Butler. Fortunately, on this night, there was no waiting around and awkward hinting (“When you said 7:00 p.m., was that Hawaii time?”).

Our first course was pan-fried foie gras on mini French toasts served with wine-poached plums and pea sprout garnish. Well, I assumed they were a garnish until I noticed everyone else eating theirs. “These are so rich!”I loudly proclaimed. “I don’t want to fill up too much and not have room for the rest of dinner.” I don’t think they bought it. Speaking of rich – and delicious – the foie gras was cooked to a sweet golden mouth-melting perfection. The not overly-sweet plums provided a nice balance.

Salad with beets, goat cheese, and walnuts
Salad with beets, goat cheese, and walnuts

Next up was the salad course – mixed green with roasted beets, walnuts, dates, and crumbled goat cheese. A good dish made great with the addition of those meaty oven-roasted beets. A pleasing symphony of tastes and textures.

Rotisserie ducks!
Rotisserie ducks!

On to our main course – crispy rotisserie duck with truffled mash potatoes, steamed green beans, and a spicy plum sauce. “It’s really hot!”Rob warned us about the sauce and while it was certainly piquant, it wasn’t off-putting. Still, as enjoyable as it was, it wasn’t really necessary. The duck – crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, was incredibly flavorful.

Crispy duck with truffled mash, grean beans, and spicy thai sauce
Crispy duck with truffled mash, grean beans, and spicy thai sauce
The mash was – positively sublime. The secret, I think, was in the cream. No scratch that. It was probably in the two tablespoons of duck drippings. As for the green beans – they were a nice accompaniment in that plain and steamed, they served as a nice contrast to the richer elements of the dish – sort of like a brush with death makes you appreciate life.
Assorted desserts
Assorted desserts

We finished with multiple desserts. While a couple of the pastries I picked up were very good (Hello, chocolate-banana), I was less-than-impressed with most.

Chocolate waffle with home made ice creams (banana and peanut butter)
Chocolate waffle with home made ice creams (banana and peanut butter)

The chocolate waffles with the homemade ice creams (banana and peanut butter) on the other hand was a winner. I haven’t had ice cream this good since – well, since the last time I made ice cream.

We concluded the night by heading down to the theater room where we watched – not a movie but the editor’s cut of Air III. Wow! Those white sands look amazing. It was Fondy’s first exposure to SGU and she enjoyed the episode immensely. Her favorite character: Sgt. Ronald Greer. My wife is now a confirmed Jamil Walker Smith fan.

The chef
The chef

Overall, an excellent meal. Given the opportunity, I would definitely go back.

Rob and Hilary’s:

Prices: NA

Hours: From the time they invite you over to the moment they kick you out.

Liquor, wine: Full bar.

Noise level: Not too bad.    

Credit cards: N.A.

Reservations: Highly Recommended

Dress: Casual.

Early-bird service or deals: No.

Takeout: Yes.

Parking: No valet but hopefully this will change.  Parking on street.

61 thoughts on “May 17, 2009: Dinner at the Cooper House – My Review

  1. My cooking skills usually go no further than “pierce film and then microwave for 4 minutes”.

    I love beetroot in a salad or pickled as part of a sandwich but would have no idea what else could be done with it.

    I have to admit that the meal at “Mr Cooper’s restaurant” looks colourful and tasty.

    Did you get me a doggie bag?

  2. Ya know…if you guys kill Todd and/or the Wraith, you have to all make it up to me with a full Rob Cooper-prepared dinner, and a Mallozzi chocolate party – in Jersey, since I don’t fly.

    I mean it.


  3. Everyone is invited to visit my Stargate Movies 2009-2010 post at http://abbaskarimjee.wordpress.com/2008/08/15/stargate-movie-2009-2010/.

    The post contains up to date info on all of the upcoming Stargate DVD releases and info on the rerun times for Stargate:The Ark of Truth and Stargate:Continuum.Feel free to share your thoughts on any or all of the features in the comments area and vote for the film which you are most excited to watch!


  4. Wow! His dessert looked like it turned out great. He must have been practicing up prior to inviting you over.

    The pastries you brought looked delicious. Shame they didn’t meet your standards. There is one that appears to have a meringue and a red layer– most likely raspberry or strawberry– mmm, it looks the best of the bunch if I had to choose.

    I had garlic and basil hummus served with roasted red bell peppers, asparagus and field greens on a toasted pita, drizzled with caramelized onion vinaigrette. I’m not a vegetarian or anything, but its a good dish. Do you like hummus?

  5. @otros ojos said in yesterday’s blog:

    No quote marks?!? Sorry, dovil. ARRRGH! If someone gets a chance to tell me how to do that right, I’d appreciate it very much.

    The quotemarks are done by using [blockquote] text [/blockquote] except you use the little >< symbols around the blockquote instead of the brackets. One of the blog regulars (Thornyrose?) explained it to me a while ago.

    @Joe: That dinner looked divine. I’m going to have to roast me a duck soon! I just have to disable the smoke alarms first – all that duck fat sizzling away sets them off!

    @das: Your Japanese garden is coming along beautifully – and I like the scenic cat. Thanks for posting the pictures!

  6. What a wonderful dinner. I have to say that like susan the tartan turtle, my culinary skill is limited at best. So today, while out looking at the pretty foodstuffs I never buy, I came across ostrich eggs ($29.99 ea) and Vosges bacon chocolate. Ever try either?

  7. Yum yummy. Very droolworthy!

    Courses? I tend to toss it all on a tray and take it downstairs to the coffee table as my kitchen table morphs into an art studio all spring and summer. My little Utah box house has no dining room. Although I did get MyLarry to set up the pub table and tall chairs in the front room upstairs instead of the basement guest room, we can dine with a lovely view of the trash cans in the drive and the mountains. I do have a stunning set of Noritake I picked up in Yokosuka; I should take it out of the boxes now and then, dig out the antique silver and the eclectic crystal stems and set a nice table. the cats would appreciate it, I’m sure.

    My house is stuffed to the rafters with interesting things; I take it as a compliment when people wander and make themselves at home.

  8. Wait… David Blue had an apartment-warming party and you didn’t go??? Or is it later? Hmmph. I like the food pictures (Did Rob really cook that all himself? It looks rather professional to me! Huge congrats to him!), but I like the people pictures better!!!

  9. Damn, I too would love to work on a TV show. If only to have a clear justification to build my own theater room. 😉

  10. @ Sparrow_hawk – Thanks! That cat is one of our feral cats…at least, I think she is. She spent the winter in one of our kitty shelters, so I don’t think she has a human owner. She has only let me pet her once, but she likes to be around me when I’m outside. Pretty girl, too.

    I will be happy when I can find the right ground cover around the fountain area, which I really need to spruce up now that I look at the picture (I had to move the stones to access the pump, and I didn’t put them back as I would have liked). I really need to get more greenery around the fountain – I have a blue Pacific spruce on one side, but it’s not growing as fast as I would like. I know the look I want, it’s just frustrating finding the perfect elements, especially ones that will grow in my temperamental yard.


  11. sparrow_hawk – Thanks for the heads up on Elric of Melnibone. I’ve already started Stealer of Souls but at lunch I stopped and started on Elric of Melnibone. It’s making much more sense now!
    I managed to lock in those few days of R&R while in Singapore so I should be able to get through both books by discussion time. And then provide absolutely meaningless insights into what I’ve read.

  12. Wow, looks great.!! Well, I went and did it. I had threatned and I finally did it, but I had to choose from 2 even though I could really see 2 for 1, but still expensive, and I did it on my birthday- today, may 18th hint joe , dedacation, please! I’m REALLY going to the farscape and stargate conventions in LA in Nov. Same place , same weekend and alot of the same people!! Never been to LA, so can’t wait to explore. Hey, is anyone else going? I need a sci-fi crew to hang out with. Cause husband can’t go and boy is he upset! He’ll get over it. Hey Florida people- anyone going?It looks like a fun gathering and i’m up for something new! Can anyone tell me about their experiences at these? thanks, sheryl

  13. David Blue is in big trouble.

    Now if Eli dies in the middle of Season 1, I’ll know why. 😉

    *Waits for David Blue to show up*

  14. @Sparrow_hawk: Thanks so much for the instructions. So now I know it’s “blockquote,” and I won’t feel so much like a blockhead when quoting. May many delicious homemade chicken pot pies lie in your future. It’s hard to beat well-done comfort food, as the other half (more like three-fifths, really 😉 ) reminds me almost every evening.

    @das: More thanks for sharing your pics. Your and Trish’s ideas have me thinking, now. I love looking at all sorts of Japanese gardens, and think you’ve made excellent use of space and materials. What a pleasant haven. The windchimes and trickling water must be especially nice on a mild evening/night. What’s the pink flowering plant? It’s really pretty, and looks so good opposite the bamboo fence (great idea, that).

    Joe, I think the Coopers should be nominated for sainthood (reviewing a dinner with friends! Of all things!! *lifts bemused eyebrow*) and also think Rob should get a raise just for being an excellent cook. Talk about multi-talented. . . . And the thought of chocolate waffles with homemade peanut-butter ice cream is about enough to make me drool like Hooch, the dog that kept upstaging Tom Hanks. — O favour’d one of the Masters of Comestibles! — and all that blather.

    Time to go get an apple.

  15. @Susan the Tartan Turtle

    Sounds like we went to the same cooking school! But wait… you’ve got the stuff that comes with a film…? Oooo, how “gourmet” of you!

    So. Coop, he writes, he directs, he produces, AND he cooks??!!! Oh, AND makes *chocolate* waffles…?! OK, I’m in love! And high-5 to Mrs. C. for snagging that catch!

    BTW, Joe, one of these days, you ARE going to come across a restaurant with a big sign out front that says “NO cameras allowed”! — The “SpoonCam” [not to mention TV remotes!] is NOT part of the dinner service set!

  16. wow a man of many hats I see. Good to see he has a fallback just on the off chance that SGU is cancelled in favor of something more dramatic and action packed, say, Midget Mexican Wrestling?

    The extent of my culinary capabilities are hot dogs, hamburgers, mac & cheese, and the occasional frozen pizza. When should I expect you over?

  17. P.S. shoulda titled today’s entry “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper”, one of my favorite shows growing up.

  18. Man, I missed you at David Blue’s apartment-warming. Great times had by all. But I suppose it’s just as good you didn’t make it… you don’t want to many people, after all.

    That said, if he ever has a real one, maybe you could try and snag me an invitation… I’ll give you twenty bucks.

  19. Great pictures Joe, now what a picture of some antacid as you’ve given me heartburn (or I could be having a heart attack…i’ll get back to you…..)

  20. I had a perfectly cooked salmon steak, buttered new potatoes, half an avocado, green beans and salad.

    I burnt my finger on the grill and didn’t enjoy any of it.

  21. Why do I never learn? I should never come read your blog when I’m having to do a fast before blood tests.


  22. Dinner looks divine!!

    But…you didn’t leave a number to call for reservations…..

  23. Hi Mr M!

    Off line for the past couple of days. Visiting old Alma Mater and old friends.

    WOW! RCC *we are not worthy*…Director/Writer/Producer/Golfer and now CRACKING good chef????!! Is there no end to this man’s talents?

    Love the title of SGA movie..Will get all the fans in a frenzy!! I had a pool on this..but have lost.. I wished for (a Marty G inspired) Stargate Atlantis: WTF? title but alas no…notes from the network shot that one down!!!!!

    Lovin’ the dogs twitter page…

    Best to all


  24. @ otros ojos – Thank you. The pink shrub is Weigela:


    Spring-bloomer, but stays nice and green all summer long…unless it gets too hot and dry, and then the leaves burn a little. But since it’s against my house on the north side, it gets just enough shelter to keep it happy. In very hot weather I do water them, however…just in case. Right now everything is beautiful because we’ve had SO much rain this sring…but by August…ugh. It’s a struggle to keep things looking lush.

    Not sure why…perhaps it’s because we’re on a peninsula, perhaps it’s because of the shallow Delaware Bay where storm systems often die out before reaching us, or perhaps it’s because God knows this is a summer resort, and people just don’t like it to rain on their vacations…but from June to September our rainfall average is usually far less than the rest of the state. It is the only thing I dislike about the climate here, because I love, LOVE rain, especially that ‘gentle shower’ type rain, though nothing beats out a good nor’easter!


  25. That’s a pretty impressive dinner Rob (if you happen to be lurking). Well thought out, looks tasty. I loved how you rounded the evening out with Air III. So, was this the first showing of Universe to non-staff? What would you do if Hilary and Fondy said they hated it?

    Joe, can you please give us a hint whether you’ve finished judging the Fans Choice bluray DVD cover contest?

    Cheers, Chev

  26. Notice also. Recommended tipping: 0% (or 100% if you want to feel like the generous type). Decor: that “at home” feel. Entertainment: exclusive airings of videos after dinner. Thanks for sharing (and for Mr. C. to allow you to share) the experience. You’ve just intensified my growing interest in “fine foods”. I’m still limited to following recipes, and learning about how spices and herbs can be combined to bring out the best in foods, but I hope that sometime before senility I’ll be able to lay out a meal that would satisfy a palate as discerning as yours. Until then I’ll continue to torture my coworkers with my efforts. (Hmm, that’s a problem. Once I do reach that level of culinary skill, if I do, who WILL I cook for? ye gods, these middle age hobbies come with all sorts of hidden complications).
    Now, off to the bookstore for the monthly quota, and a swing by the spice store nearby to stock up my slowly growing collection of quality fresh supplies.

  27. Beautiful pictures of Robert and Hilary’s food! They must have worked all day on those courses.

    I ordered Elric Stealer of Souls (our library/book stores didn’t carry it) but after reading some of the posts, maybe I should have ordered Elric of Melnibone, too. Oh well, I’ll guess I’ll see how it goes.

    With all those calories you ingested Mr. M., I swam some laps for ya this morning at the Y.


  28. Hi Joe,
    Wow, that looked SOOOOO good. Can I come over sometime?

    Oh and last night I had a dream that I visited the sets of Universe and I saw Jace hall there. However the sets in my dream were nothing like the real sets. Weird huh. And I was going to meet you but I woke up before then.

    Wow, I am really looking forward to see white sands in Air. And I am really looking forward to Jamil(at first I thought he would be Ford 2.0 but then I saw some of his acting and I was like WOW).

    Questions for the next mailbag

    1. Would you like to edit my 5 page script (a script for the FBI files part 2?

    2. Can I please send you a link to my best video I made(the script I was telling you about is part two of the FBI files. The link I want to send you is part for part 1)?

    3. So there are a few stargate suprises for MGM’s 85th b-day. So what day is MGM’s 85th?

    4. How is time going? Almost done?

    5. Do you guys have a email address I can email(Instead of physically mailing something)?

    6. How is the music and visual effects coming for Air?

    Thanks so much,
    Major D. Davis

  29. Hi Joe! Ugh, Monday morning… I wish Mr. Deni could cook like Mr. Cooper 🙂 Actually, Mr. Deni was painting all weekend, barely saw him. Took off with my son yesterday, shopped till we dropped (almost literally, I was asleep by 10 p.m.), had lamb shanks and such at Mildred’s Big City Food, a good day.

    @Das: Lovely little space you’ve made in the garden, what talent! I’ll just bet Joe will meet all your demands if they kill off the Wraith, too 🙂

    @Sheryl: Not going to LA, it’s too scary. My mother-in-law lives there.

  30. Holy. smokes. I cannot cook like that. If I tried I would hurt myself. The waffles look sooo good. Chocolate waffles. Mmm. And the salad looked so good. I love beets on salad, and it looked like there were yellow beets too? Don’t get me started on the foie gras and the duck. And here’s me with an hour to lunch still to go and no juicy crispy duck for miles. I’m gonna have to make do with my plain salad and carrots. Bleh.

  31. coucou =) alore cette journée? Moi c’était mon premier jour de stage. J’ai des horraires convenable mais le travail est trés casse tête et ennuyant. Heureusement que je me trouve au département des loisir et du multimédia…j’attend avec impatience de voir quel saison de stargate ils vont ce faire livré dans les prochains jours =)!!

    Aller bisou, a bientôt!

  32. @narelle: Actually, it was das’s suggestion to read Elric of Melnibone first – I just seconded the motion! But I’m glad it’s working out well taking that approach. And I’m glad that your Singapore trip is back on and that you will have a chance to relax for a while!

    @Tammy Dixon: Elric of Melnibone is one of the stories included in book 3 of this series. The book title is The Sleeping Sorceress. I’m not sure that it is essential to read that story first, you may be able to just jump right into the first book of the new compilation, Stealer of Souls and be just fine.

  33. Blast – open bold again! Sorry everyone. I sure wish there was an edit button on this.

  34. Ah right! great! food pictures and descriptions,,Yummy! thanks and Mr C. looks great as always. The waffle dessert looks delicious! How the heck do you find room for dessert, Another fine blog entry. thanks for sharing!
    –and Das, I sneaked a look at your patio pics, very nice!

  35. Gee, maybe you should be writing for Gourmet or for Food & Wine…..or Zagat… ;-)))

    You make everything sound so delicious! All I had for dinner was a gigantic steak salad….sigh…

  36. Rob Cooper’s food looks so good!
    Questions about the SGA movie:
    1. Is the plot an evolution of ideas you already had for Season 6 of Atlantis, or a completely new idea after you found out you’d be scripting the movie?
    2. Will there be a few scenes with the entire Team (by which I mean Shep,McKay,Teyla,Ronon) together?
    Thank you for any answers!
    woiru09324rk024p0”g to the pups! (they’ll understand the twitspeak)

  37. So…how was your day, you may ask…

    Our office is an old trailer that sits on the edge of wetlands. I may have mentioned that – at times – we get critters inside. I’ve had black rat snakes in the file cabinets, mice in the storage boxes, racoons and/or skunks and/or opossums in between the floor boards, paper wasps flying around overhead…you know – the normal things everyone has in their office.

    Well, on Friday I noticed some ants on my dad’s desk. We’ve had a wet spring, which sometimes drives ants indoors, so I didn’t think anything of it since ants on a desk are not quite as startling as snakes in the file cabinet. Besides, I like ants…industrious little things.

    Anyhoo…fast-forward to this afternoon. I go to put paper in the fax machine, and I notice some…ants. Hmmmm…ants walking in a line…to the fax machine…INto the fax machine…

    I take out the paper tray, look inside – and 😯 – an entire colony of ants, IN the fax machine! Eggs and all! Since I’ve had so many respiratory problems, I don’t dare spray bug killer – so I sweep as many as I can into a box and toss ’em outside, take the fax machine out and shake/bang/rattle&roll the thing, trying to get them all out…NO idea where the queen is…

    Ugh. Ants all over…all over me! I feel like I’m in some kind of B movie horror flick. Better than snakes in the file cabinets, but still… 😛

    I feel all itchy…


  38. Oh and Joe,

    I just wanted to quickly tell and ask you something.

    I will be in Seattle with my dad in mid-June. Then, when I was talking to him about my dream about bridge studios, he said, “Why don’t we go and visit the bridge studios”? I thought that would be great except I know bridge doesn’t give tours( I think , I’m not sure) and you said there was no way I could visit the Bridge.

    Then I thought, Instead of Going to the Bridge, Why don’t we go to Vancover and finally meat you in person. We could meat you somewhere for lunch, I could stop by your house and just say hi, whatever works for you. So my question is….

    Is it at all possible if we could come to Vancover and finally meat you in person? If so, could you give me your email address so we can discuss this idea further?

    Thanks so much,
    Major D. Davis

  39. Hey Joe…

    I’m really hungry after readong today’s entry!

    So, now that you have joined the Twitter masses, do you think you will ever get a Facebook account again?

    Thanks Joe.

  40. sparrow_hawk wrote:

    Actually, it was das’s suggestion to read Elric of Melnibone first – I just seconded the motion!

    Then I say thanks to Das too.
    It will be good once the work aspect of Singapore is over to spend some quality time with a deck chair.

  41. That looks like a veritable feast of goodness, though I wish you’d been able to rate the bathroom facilities – the presense of tiny novelty soaps can make or break an evening out.

    @major d davis. I did have a gateworld account, but due to hardly ever posting, it curled up and died. Much like every pot plant I’ve ever owned.

    @david blue. Nice save on the job!

  42. @Das: I once had a colony of fire ants in my air conditioner unit… the thing outside. They broke it. Hope the fax machine still works. And for the record I hate fire ants. They love to crawl up my leg while I’m occupied with trimming my date palm and then when most of them have gotten onto my leg one must let out the siren and they all begin biting/stinging me at once. And one fire ant bite is horrible. And a few dozen and I’m close to needing a stay in the hospital. Stupid fire ants.

    @David Blue: Well, that might explain why Joe wasn’t invited. But what about me? And the rest of Joe’s blog regulars? 😉

  43. Wow, Rob Cooper is truly a man of many talents… writer, director, cook! Is there anything RC can’t do?

  44. As I’m typing this my business partner is following two white vans that showed up in his street. I asked him if either of them had a moustache. He said No. Either they’re in disguise or they’re not the same guys stalking you in Vancouver. Hehehehe Vancouver. Yeah, not funny I know.

  45. Joe,

    I heard that SGU Pilot was to air during summer followed by the rest of the season in the fall. Is this still the plan? And is the Air Pilot going to be released seperately on DVD similar to Atlantis and the upcoming SG-1 pilot? If so any idea when we can expect it?

  46. @das: My full sympathy for the ant problem. And while I’m shuddering, I keep asking myself, “Why the Xerox machine, of all places?!?”

    Have ants evolved to the point where they have some sort of instinctive desire to replicate in numbers far beyond those achieved by normal reproduction??? *looks like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone poster*

    I’m all for coexistence of species where possible (no bus-sized serpents, thank you), but maybe someone should check this out.

    – Ah, lovely weigela. Thanks for the link to the images; I had no idea of its infinite variety. The guy at the nursery told me that here in the midwest, it needs as much TLC as it does in your atypical dry-summer microclimate. Oh well. – I also love the rain, and since we’ve had a cool, rainy spring, our clematis is showing off and the few roses we have so far smell incredibly sweet. English weather would be just my cup of tea.

    *wonders some more about insects and evolution*

  47. Even I!!! got invited to David Blue’s apartment-warming do… haha

  48. The dogs and David Blue are in the middle of a Twitter-off. I think it might have been awkward. LOL. You know, there would always be an elephant in the room and if the apartment is small, it would take up a lot of space.

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