Three weeks ago, Bar Covell quietly opened its doors, serving beer and wine across the street from Umami Burger on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Feliz. Bar Covell's Owner, Dustin Lancaster, spent the last three and a half years tending bar at Cafe Stella. In March 2009, Lancaster first struck up a conversation with Matthew Kaner, formerly of Silverlake Wine, about collaborating on a project, a bar which he eventually named after the street in rural Oklahoma where he grew up: Covell.
The realization of Covell included 9 months scouring eBay for the industrial cage lanterns that emit light throughout the space that was once home to a traffic school. The walls are hand plastered with pages from an antique dictionary purchased on his recent trip to Brazil, the bar is made from reclaimed wood off a Kentucky barn. Add Lancaster's personal camera collection, and Covell feels like a cross between a bar and Lancaster's house — or maybe his garage.
When deciding who would act as Covell's General Manager and Wine Director, Lancaster's decision to include Matthew Kaner was immediate. Kaner's life in the wine world spans nearly a decade beyond the wine stores of Silverlake Wine and Santa Barbara's Wine Cask and into the vineyard. Kaner recently bottled his own wine a California Cote-Rotie (Syrah) named, AM/FM.
Together, Lancaster and Kaner designed a rotating list of craft beer and wine from the obscure and rare to the recognizable and easily consumed. On the beer side of things the list ranges from the Atomium Grand Cru ($8/glass) from Belgium to a “Doggy Style” Pale Ale from the Maryland-based brewery, Flying Dog ($7/glass). The wine list you can find Pascal Janvier Coteaux du Loir Chinen Blanc ($11/glass) from the minuscule Jasnières appellation, or sip the first-ever produced Grüner Veltliner in Santa Barbara county from Don and Lindsay Schroeder of Chien. Bar Covell is the first location in Los Angeles to sell this wine.
When it comes to helping you choose a wine, “the grape variety is not the most important thing,” says Kaner. “As long as it's honest and in the right context with the right food and friends, it's going to do it's job – it's going to be enjoyable.” A bottle they currently like is from the producer Creyssels ($9/glass) and made from the high acid Picpoul grape.
Covell serves cheese plates with Village Bakery bread. And Matt Poley of Heirloom-LA pops in from time to time to do a residency when his schedule permits. Poley fits into Covell's no menu concept: “We don't have a menu, but trust us. We have good things.”