Restaurant Review: Restaurant Review
Cover 3 has good intentions but isn't playing by the rules
Reviewed by Lee Nichols, Fri., Feb. 13, 2009
Mon.-Thu., 11am-11pm; Fri.-Sat., 11am-12mid; Sun., 11am-10pm
Cover 32700 W. Anderson #202, 374-1121
Monday-Thursday, 11am-11pm; Friday, 11am-11pm (bar, 12mid); Saturday, 10am-12mid; Sunday, 10am-10pm
Given Cover 3's attempt to go beyond the stereotypical mold of sports bars, it's ironic that my visits there bring a couple of clichés to mind: "Trying to be all things to all people results in being nothing to anybody," and, "The sum is less than the parts."
I'll give them plenty of credit for trying, though. This new spot in the Village Shopping Center across Anderson Lane from Northcross Mall aims to be an "upscale sports bar." For those of us who'd like our ball games with more than light beer and wings, it's an overdue concept. The problem for Cover 3 – the name comes from a defensive football scheme – is execution. Or at least in certain areas.
On food, Cover 3 has it covered, with little reason for complaint. We were shocked at how the green-chile beef nachos elevated a classic bar dish to the sublime, mostly through adding tender, melt-in-your-mouth barbacoa in place of ordinary ground beef, further augmented with pepper jack, black beans, and avocado. Ditto with the Triple, which removed the salsa/guacamole/queso conundrum by offering all three side by side with nice, warm chips.
Next, the candied walnuts, sliced Fuji apples, and crumbled goat cheese topped with a raspberry-Dijon vinaigrette made the Cover 3 Salad surprisingly satisfying in its simplicity. My friend's jumbo North Atlantic scallops, in a white-wine-and-goat-cheese sauce with applewood-smoked bacon and toasted almonds, were cooked to perfection, not the least bit rubbery. I came up short on my order, however: The Pacific ahi tuna burger just ended up being a waste of fine tuna, with the flavor of the fish drowned beneath the rest of the sandwich, which was accompanied by some unremarkable Parmesan-dusted fries. Much better was another friend's chicken-fried beef tips, with a green-chile gravy adding a nice touch of spice.
So what's wrong? Mainly, the sports bar side of the equation. Good sports bars have televisions in every direction, along good sight lines that maximize viewing comfort. By contrast, the booths and tables in Cover 3's main dining area don't face the dominant television – I watched my game with my head turned the entire evening, resulting in a stiff neck by night's end. If I looked straight ahead, the only TVs in sight were so far away as to be useless. And I was shocked by the pathetic beer selection – if you're going to whip out the fine food and lengthy wine list, why skimp on beer? Beyond Fat Tire, the tap selections don't go far beyond the flavorless and mass-produced (and worse, between my first visit and second, the Bass Ale spigot was replaced with Miller Lite). And if it did improve the beer selection, I have little confidence that the staff would know how to serve it – Cover 3's staff made much of its "iced Cobra taps," apparently not realizing that excessive chilling just ruins the taste of truly quality brews. I shudder to think what they'd do to a good stout.
Ultimately, Cover 3 will have to work out the kinks in its formula or make up its mind what it wants to be. Right now, it's either a fine-dining experience ruined by a bunch of bright TVs or a sports bar that doesn't know what it's doing.
Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter
If you want to submit a recipe, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org