I’ve never had a bar I’ve wanted to call “mine.” Typically when people ask me where I like to go out, I answer, “Pizzeria Mozza.” When that remark is greeted with a much-deserved eye roll, I usually shrug and respond, “I guess the Village Idiot?” with as much as hesitation as I can muster.
I’m a restaurant girl – not a bar girl. I like food, comfortable seats and music played at a reasonable volume, and I usually select places like Tavern or Little Next Door when I am meeting someone who is never going to call me again for a drink.
But I do like my wine. And I do like not feeling obligated to order food when all I want to do is drink and find comfort in a glass. And despite my hesitation to patronize most bars, I have always secretly wished that there was a place where I would feel comfortable going any night of the week, wearing whatever I wanted, with whomever I wanted.
Even if that person didn’t call me again. Or did, but only because he wants a restaurant suggestion for where to take a different, less neurotic girl.
Such is the way with my love life – it never seems to be quite right. (Though most of the time, I am actually glad to be rid of the male disturbance and potential threat to my independence.)
This past Friday night, I did, however, stumble upon a bar that’s right for me – the bar that I have been subconsciously looking for since I arrived in Los Angeles five years ago.
At first glance Bar Covell, operated by Owner Dustin Lancaster from Cafe Stella, and General Manager & Wine Director Matthew Kaner from Silver Lake Wine, does not seem like an obvious choice for “my” new bar. It’s 6.1 miles from my apartment, I have to drive through the Hollywood traffic quagmire to get there, and the closest restaurant on that nondescript stretch of Hollywood Blvd. just east of Vermont is Umami Burger.
Once inside however, it’s a different story. The lighting is dim, but not aggressively so – it enhances the social vibe, rather than detracting from it. Music is present, but not in a way that makes it more memorable than the conversation being held. And though it has only been open three months, the chummy linear space seems to already be crowded with regulars congregating around one of the few tables or on the cushy bar stools that parade down the length of the expansive bar. It’s not a club. It’s not a scene. It’s a place where regular people go to relax, unwind and catch up with friends over a not-so-average glass of wine or beer.
What appeals to me most about the Bar Covell, however, is the service. Ordering a glass of wine there is an adventure – an experience in itself. On Friday night, Matthew Kaner helped me navigate their wine by the glass waters. First he asked me what I was in the mood for – Rosé – and then he walked me through my options. The Chateau Virgile Rosé ($9) I ultimately selected, a fruit-forward blend of Syrah and Grenache, was a pure delight – perfectly refreshing, yet still substantial on the palate. I was sold at the first sip.
I couldn’t wait to go back to the humble Silver Lake bar that is silently making waves with its wines and personal service, and immediately made a date with two of my girl friends to return with me last night. I was less sure what I was craving when I approached the bar on this particular evening, but once again, the bartender helped me find exactly what I didn’t know I wanted. The Rail 2 Rail Zinfandel ($8) from the Lodi region in Central California bloomed on my tongue with its signature jamminess and spicy finish. But even more impressive to me was the time that the bartender took to help me select it without trying to push a more expensive glass on me.
That seems to be the trend at Bar Covell – and the intent behind the collaboration between Lancaster and Kaner. The entire staff is committed to making sure every person who bellies up to their bar finds the pour that is perfect for them.
I’m pretty sure that in that process, they will also – like me – find the bar that is perfect for them too.
4628 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027-5408