Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cracked the Code: Bar Covell

The boys that run Bar Covell in Los Feliz have figured it out:  Girls like wine.  And girls like stylish, charming boys.  And once you have the girls, you'll bring the boys.  Boys like girls.  Oh, and boys also like beer.  Et voila, with this knowledge, they have cracked the code on bar success (right, because that's all it takes, Tannaz).  Even on a Wednesday night, the place buzzes with an energetic and beautiful crowd, and it's no coincidence.

The wine list is small at Covell, but the bartenders will engage you.  I've only seen the same three guys behind the bar: one owns the place, the other is the wine director.  The third, I don't know his position or pedigree, but this tall man leans in close, smiles with every word, and is a picture of wine knowledge, charisma, and undeniably alluring personality.  They dress as a wine and beer bartender in the heart of hipster country ought to: button-downs, vests, an occasional bow-tie... and tennis shoes.  And as soon as you walk up to the bar, a conversation rooted in your personal tastes on wine (or beer) ensues:  a miniature wine-therapy session that culminates in tasting a wine or two expressly selected to suit your taste, leading to the perfect glass.  Seriously, these guys know what they're doing.

Tonight, I had a glass of a Galician blend  -- spicy and fruity, but not too sweet -- that suited my palate, long ago trained on Spanish wines, just fine.  It eventually came with an unorthodox lesson in stemware from our dear bartender:  Sip the same wine from the bulbous bowl of a Burgundy glass and from the longer, leaner Bordeaux glass, and you will taste a difference.  Science meets poetry as the voluptuous bowl brings out the more 'feminine' floral notes in wine, while the slender glass accentuates the the spicier, more forward 'masculine' tones.  These are the kinds of lessons you learn at Bar Covell:  it's enough to make a lady blush! (I mean, not really.  Well, maybe some ladies would blush, but who would want to drink wine with those squares anyway.)

As if this were not enough, the decor in the place is impeccable:  dim light, a collection of vintage cameras resting on shelves made of stacked books on one wall, an old motorbike mounted on another.   And behind the bar, a section of cool black subway tile holds a perfect row of shiny chrome beer taps:  an Allagash, a Tripel, and a hefeweizen, in much good company.

There's food to be had, and though it can be pricey, you won't be disappointed:  gooey croques monsieur or mac and cheese, a traditional tortilla espaƱola fried in olive oil, Heirloom LA flatbreads, cheese and charcuterie plates, and a croissant bread pudding that will one day break my resolve -- just a few. 

Maybe it's because of the bartenders' demeanor, but something makes the crowd in this place extra friendly, and extra interesting.  You're surrounded by the beautiful hipster elite, but on a given night, you might exchange stories with a just-out-of-jail magician (true story), a freckled local musician, or a guy who runs his own local brewery and hosts free barbecues for the community throughout the summer.  It just feels good to be in this place.  Can we please make plans to go? 

Bar Covell is at 4628 Hollywood Blvd., 1 block east of Vermont.


  1. 1) This is one of your best posts ever.
    2) Yesterday afternoon it crossed my mind, for the first time in months, that I should go back to that cute bar. Que casualidad! Let's go. Especially now that I've taken to drinking more regularly. BSE much?

  2. 1: wow, thank you!
    2: yes yes yes yes.

  3. Hey Tannaz,

    I wanted to send you an email about a food event but couldn't find your contact info on here. Can you email me at Thanks!

  4. whoa Anne, you're right -- no email address on the profile. just fixed that. and emailing you now!

  5. wow this bar looks perfect in ambiance. can't wait to get there. it must be relaxing. thanks for sharing.