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Tuesday, 17 June 2014 08:46 | Published in Quick Bytes | More in this category: « Class and Comfort at Paulie’s Epicure Café: Prime In the Daytime »
Poisson Cru Poisson Cru Joanna O'Leary

A Dining Experience at Cove Cold Bar

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Don’t bother with a jacket. The only thing “cold” about Cove is the fish; everything else is warm, inviting, and casual. Housed inside Haven, Cove had the potential to remain the restaurant’s sweet secret, a haute watering hole known only to regulars and the scant intrepid food explorer. But the food was just too good. The secret’s out and now Cove commands its own clientele.

Like many people, I first visited Cove with the intention only to have a drink and perhaps an appertif while waiting for my table in Haven’s dining room. One course, however, and I wanted to cancel my reservation. Cove had me hook, line, sinker. (No more fish puns, I promise.)

I like that at Cove you almost have to go slow. In a dining world where time between courses in restaurants has diminished rapidly, even a repast of appetizer, entrée, and dessert can take only an hour and a half leaving one to wonder if it’s ever possible really to have a protracted consumption experience. Cove provides that opportunity albeit with a unique twist: you’re not lingering over a cup of coffee and a pastry at a dreary café but rather savoring elegant, playful plates of globally sourced seafood plus a smattering of meat and cheese selections.

Although you can order drinks from Haven’s cocktail menu, don’t pass up on the chance to try any of Cove’s carefully curated wine, beer, and sake list. Note, also, the plural, “drinks.” You will be staying a while at Cove, so order multiple, different glasses of spirits or pick a favorite and get a bottle. Worthy contenders include local draught beers such as St. Arnold’s Elissa IPA, white wines such as the terlano pinot grigio, and spirits like TKY junmai jinjo sake. And don’t shy away from vino rosso because you’ll be eating mostly fish. The Lucas & Lllewellyn pinot noir, for example, is sufficiently understated as not to dominate a seafood pairing.

The food menu at Cove is, ironically, quite fluid as the chefs change the offerings to reflect what’s fun and fresh. Almost always available are gulf shrimp and oysters on the half shell, though the latter is sourced from various geographical locations. Other standout standby seafood dishes include the grilled Grecian octopus with olives, feta, and capers, all of which are laced with aioli made from emulsified arugula and the Pacific Northwest cured salmon with brown sugar and caper berry salt. Even more exotic and enticing are carefully constructed specialties like the poisson cru, a Fijian lionfish marinated in citrus juices and dressed in coconut milk, ginger, chiles, and olive oil.

For non-pescaterians, there’s also a wonderful lamb carpaccio, a decadent steak tartare (traditionally prepared but with a welcome twist of the usage of a quail egg), and an imaginative, carefully curated selection of hard and soft cheeses, the best of which is the “Barely Buzzed,” a Utah cheddar spiced with a rub of lavender and coffee.

Share all of the above, plus maybe a few more, with a friend one evening and you’ll blink twice when you look at your watch. It’s nearly 10pm and you’re about to close down Cove. Who says dinner can’t last all night?

Cove
2502 Algerian Way
Houston, TX. 77098

Cove & Haven Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Written by Joanna O'Leary
Joanna O'Leary

Joanna O'Leary

With a bachelor's degree in English from Harvard University and a PhD in Victorian literature from Rice University, Joanna O'Leary enjoys reading and writing almost as much as she likes to eat. She has worked as a food and travel writer for a number of publications including Let's Go, Wine Enthusiast, Black Book, the Onion, and the Houston Press, and is currently writing a book on amateur turn-of-the-century cookbooks and material culture.


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