This was all that I really knew about The Cove before we visited, and it didn’t sound promising. Don’t get me wrong, Austin is a very nice city with some great outdoorsy activities. But I can never get past the city’s stubborn refusal to build infrastructure, the smelly hippies, the much feted homeless population, or vegetarianism. All things vegetarian annoy me. For years, my mottos have been: 1) If God didn’t intend for us to eat animals, then why did he make them so delicious and 2) If God didn't intend for animals to be eaten, why did he make them out of meat?
A quick review of the restaurant’s web page only further heightened my concerns. The online menu was full of words I shudder to see in conjunction with a burger joint. They have “SOL Burgers,” which back where I come from means something other than “Sustainable, Organic and Local.” As I learned, SOL was such a recurring theme that I assume it must be some kind of mantra for them.
The cove is located at 606 W. Cypress, San Antonio, TX 78212, and is nestled snugly between a coin-operated car wash and laundry. Have a burger, wash your clothes and clean your car, all at the same convenient location!
The Burger – 7 out of 10
Our burgers arrived with a nice sheen of grease on them. The ingredients all seemed very fresh and the meat was delicious. I give the burger a solid 7. It was definitely better than average.
I’d perused the menu prior to heading over to the Cove, and I had decided that I wanted the Lamburger. The Lamburger is their signature burger; instead of having cow inside it they put chicken in there. Just kidding, the meat is lamb--sweet, delicious juvenile sheep. When I got to the restaurant, I was quite disappointed because I couldn’t order the Lamburger. Why not, you ask? Had all of the today’s fresh lamb been consumed by hungry patrons? Was there a run on lamb? Nay. As it turned out, my instinctive fear of the words “Sustainable,” “Organic” and “Local” were certainly bourn out on this occasion. This sign explains why we couldn’t order Lamburger.
In case you can’t read it, lamb is out of season. In my foolishness I had always figured that animals could be killed (and more importantly, eaten by me) any time of the year. Later, an expert in animal husbandry explained to me that there is something called “lambing season” during which all baby lambs are born. I guess all the succulent little sheep in the vicinity of San Antonio were either eaten or matured into veal (AKA adulthood). The bottom line is that we were SOL for the Lamburger.
From my fellow reviewers:
Justice Warren E. Burger - A great burger. Not the best I've ever had, but damn good. The buns were well buttered (and I love a well buttered bun). The meat was the right thickness and well seasoned. Mine might have been a tad overdone.
Hamburglar - The burger was pretty good and actually did taste as if it was made with fresh ingredients, as claimed on the restaurant's website and menu.
Fry Daddy - The burger, while not enormous, was satisfying, the ingredients were fresh, and the cheddar (which I ordered in lieu of American) was abundant.
Prefers his Tots Tatered - You can definitely taste the freshness in the ingredients. The burger slightly lacks a little bit of flavor though. My guess is that they use lean beef (keeping with the organic, healthy theme) rather than your typical 80/20 blend of ground chuck or round. I was also disappointed that they weren't serving the lamb burger (since apparently the Food Network guy raved about this on his visit). I guess locally raised lamb is a rarity in February with all the lambs being shown at the SA Rodeo.
Sides - 8 out of 10
The sides were definitely above average. Everybody liked the fries. I thought the regular potato fries were decent, but the sweet potato fries really stood out. They also came with some spicy mustard which was a great addition to the meal.
I'm not sure if a cup really qualifies as a side, but since it was made of corn I'm putting it here anyway. Please know that at The Cove, in an emergency, you can eat your cornfabulous cup.
Ambience - 9 out of 10
The Cove really stands out in the ambience department. Nothing says class like having a coin-operated Laundromat and car wash connected to your restaurant. But behind the modest storefront lies a true powerhouse of entertainment. The capacious rear of the restaurant is divided between a large indoor seating area with an impressive bar and live entertainment. The other half of the restaurant is covered outdoor seating. The outdoor area has an enclosed playscape for the little kids and a half-basketball court for the older ones. A ping-pong table rounds out the entertainment options. We went a little crazy with the pictures.
Oh, and I must mention the garden where they grow dead plants.
Justice Burger summed the place up best: “I think this was the classic burger dive and more. The ping pong table, the Laundromat, the kid's playground, the car wash, the free pregnancy test around the corner. What more could you want? A great patio on a beautiful day. If only the company had been better...”
Service - 5 out of 5
The service was good. You order up front next to the Laundromat and take a number. Then they bring your burgers. The food came out in a timely manner and was piping hot.
Price - 5 out of 5
I’ve got to say, The Cove was a little pricy. This is probably because of the whole “Sustainable,” “Organic” and “Local” thing. You’re SOL if want a cheap burger here. $10 a burger is a little steep. Still, the quality of the burger and the cool ambience definitely helped.
Conclusion on Vegetarianism: