Ellen in Lalaland: Return of the Bar Covell

At Bar Covell, you will find joy. You will be cared for and gain some winelove. You'll form emotional bonds with friends and strangers. What I am saying is that Covell uses the force. I don’t know how to explain it, but this bar is a Jedi, capable of changing lives and moving minds. Covell has been a home away from home for me for years. It was where I first really got into wine. It was where my former podcast cohost worked when I met him. I knew he was also an actor who did improv (there are droves of us in LA, but still), and we shared similar thoughts about wine. I asked him to make a podcast with me, and lucky, lucky me, despite not really knowing each other, it was his year of saying yes. Which is now my show. But I digress; that is the magic of Bar Covell. So, here’s the deal. There is a printed menu for foodstuffs. There is no wine list. You tell them what you are in the mood for, and they’ll bring you a wine or so to taste. I usually decide on something in the first two tastes, but they’ll bring more if you need. You probably won’t though. They are wine whisperers. Look around and you’ll probably see people on first dates. You’ll see groups of old friends and/or lovers who call Covell “their place”. Go enough, and you’ll make friends with regulars. I tend to consider it a spot I won’t take a date to unless I’m like, very convinced. Because it is my place. Anyone who goes gets hooked, and I can’t have an ex take my bar from me. I take people there when I love them. This includes lovers, friends, and yes, I’ve taken both my parents there. I hadn’t sat at the Bar Covell’s bar since pre-COVID times. As I walked in, good goddess I smelled Bar Covell. I don’t know if it is the building or the food or just the alchemy of all those wines coupled with the chic but not-too-chic-to-also-be-cool East Hollywood denizens, but if blind, tasted on smells, so to speak, I bet I could pick out Bar Covell. I didn’t even realize that until I walked in for the first time in about 18 months. As I scooted into my bar chair, I nearly cried. From the smell to the dim lighting to two of my favorite bartenders tending, it felt so much like coming home. How had I not been there in so long? I am not sure. Pandemic f#@ked us all. But now that I’ve been back, I’m likely to be back on my bulls%T. I brought a friend who’d yet to know the magic. They were newish to LA and newish to my life, but I’m sure they are a keeper, so I wanted to share. After introductions (and showing our vaccination cards), we dipped into the Covell protocol of expressing our wine desires. I wanted something refreshing as I run hot all the time. She wanted a warming red, seeing as Los Angeles felt vaguely autumnal that day. We were presented with four wines to audition. For her: A Santa Maria Pinot Noir and a Jura Trousseau . For me, a Mexican Rosé and a Loire Chenin Blanc . And of course, since we shared all the tastes, in the end, she wanted my rosé, and I almost wanted either of the reds (my kingdom for good Jura wine). But my undying adoration for Chenin and overheated want for a cool drink won out. Foodwise, I was tempted to order my historic favorites; they have a way with potatoes, whether they are in the form of wedges or tots. They seem to alternate between the two and either are marvelous. If I’m with someone who will eat the olives (can’t stand ‘em), I’m always desirous of the Castelvetrano olive and Marcona almond duo. Regular almonds are meh, but Marcona almonds, warmed and lightly salted, are perfect with anything in your glass. I also always lust after the cheese plates, both for quality of cheese, and inclusion of corn nuts and pistachios as accoutrements. Then there’s the mac and cheese and ricotta toast. But my friend is lactose intolerant, so we settled on sharing tortilla española. The wedges of the traditional egg/potato dish came with a perfectly seasoned baby arugula salad and avocado. My friend also ordered up some of the tinned seafood available, opting for octopus that came with tomato toast. I never thought of canned food and eggs being bespoke, but Covell somehow pulls that off. Everything there feels cultured and curated, but also as though it were the most natural and obvious thing on earth. All are welcome. Life at Covell is so desirable that there is a show currently being shot, and I’m pretty sure is inspired by it. I might be wrong, but all I know is that the writer and at least one of the actors on it are Covell regulars. It is the type of place you will make bar friends with. And maybe your friendship is the type where you only run into each other there, and text each other to rub it in when your baseball team is trouncing theirs, but they are an important ingredient in your life nonetheless. I’ve spent a few New Year’s Eves and at least one birthday there. I’ve gone there alone to read and write, and of course, never really ended up doing much of either, whether pulled into conversation with regulars or new soon-to-be friends. I’ve gone there in celebration and sadness. And I’ve gone when I simply wanted a solid wine poured by solid people. If you find yourself there at the same time as me, do say hello. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her other adventures in Lalaland: Ellen in Lalaland, (Almost) Post-Pandemic Style Ellen in Lalaland Pandemic-Style Ellen in LalaLand Take One: Nighttime at Wally’s Wine You can also listen to Ellen's podcast , The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! With Beth Burnham Wine Situation Final Five! With Casleah Herwaldt

Domaine Huet

Le Haut-Lieu Sec Vouvray Chenin Blanc 2016

It’s a good thing if your Chenin pours in the spectrum of deep golds. Le Haut Lieu Sec is like biting through the thick and creamy flesh of a bright brick red delicious apple.

The smells and tastes you could find in 30 year Sherry. The stuff of botrytis - honeys, middle eastern perfumes, hazelnuts, dates, cheddar. And there are cinnamon stewed peaches and apricot. And it just keeps going until it settles on caramel apple pops - the kind with the green cellophane.

This is Chenin stretching its legs, flexing its ability to be anything and anywhere.
— 2 years ago

Eddie, Severn and 24 others liked this
Jay Kline

Jay Kline Influencer Badge Premium Badge

Oh hell yes. Have the same vintage in my cellar too bb
Ely Cohn

Ely Cohn Premium Badge

@Jay Kline you’ll enjoy this one. Hell yes indeed

Michel Guignier

Vieilles Vignes Morgon Gamay 2015

Nice on a cool LA evening at Bar Covell with friends. — 7 years ago

David, Daniel and 7 others liked this

Belle Glos

Clark & Telephone Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016

This is a nice Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara.

Showing black fruits with tobacco, earth, wood, vanilla, chocolates, barnyard, smoke, spices, coffee and mocha.

Full bodied with medium acidity.

Dry on the palate and very fruity.

Tangy finish with soft tannins.

Good right out of the bottle and better with airtime. Needs a couple of hours to open up properly and show the complexity.

Drinks more like a Syrah blend from California. Nicely balanced with a nice mouthfeel. After 3 hours in the decanter, it really feels like a Syrah.

This 5 year old is peaking now.

Aged in French oak barrels for 9 months.

14.7% alcohol by volume.

91 points.

— 2 years ago

Iwan, Dawn and 19 others liked this

Château Les Arromans

Entre-Deux-Mers Blanc Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend 2013

Covell first drink of the night. High on the grapefruit with say, a lily pond growing in it. Very refreshing and fragrant. — 7 years ago

Bill, Paul and 6 others liked this

Field Recordings

Huerhuero Vineyard Petite Sirah 2012

Beautiful petite Syrah from paso. Had at bar covell with Darren. Bite of sweet. Fruit forward with a jammy finish — 10 years ago

Jean François Ganevat

Plein Sud Côtes du Jura Trousseau

John Osborne

Marvelously savory; gorgeous tart plum & cherry fruit with layered flavors of thyme, rosemary & marjoram. Remarkable palate presence and length for a 10% wine. — 5 years ago

Alex and Peter liked this

La Spinetta

Il Rosé di Casanova Prugnolo Gentile - Sangiovese Rosé Blend 2017

Terrifically mineral and just-underripe strawberries. A beauty of a wine with beast on the bottle. Taken down in the sidebar at Covell. Proper wine for cheers-ing to chosen family. — 5 years ago

Severn, TheSkip and 14 others liked this

The Meadow

Lodi Rosé Blend

@Dan White this has been my favorite thing of late but so far I have only been getting it at Covell, and I'm thinking it would be at Silver Lake wine but if you see it available anywhere outside California grab it up! Grab two. It's so good:) — 8 years ago

Dan, Chris and 2 others liked this
Dan White

Dan White

@Ellen Clifford awesome! I'll keep an eye out. Thanks!
Ellen Clifford

Ellen Clifford Influencer Badge Premium Badge

@Dan White yes, do! Sorry the photo is so gnarly here--bar lighting! But hopefully it's clear enough to keep an eye out for:)
Dan White

Dan White

@Ellen Clifford no worries. I'll find it. 😉