The first time I went to The Cove Cafe, a new daytime eatery at Shoreline Station, I only had a cappuccino, but I couldn’t resist helping myself to a taste of my friend’s homestyle potatoes. They were absolute perfection, browned to a delicate, satisfying crisp on the outside, with a light, melt-in-your-mouth moistness on the inside. I knew I had to come back soon to get a full order. As one of the most reliable indicators for fine brunching, great potatoes got me back in the door, but I have found myself returning more than once — and for more than just the spuds. Besides the innovative menu, The Cove’s cappuccino holds its own as one of the best I’ve had on the coast — or anywhere outside Italy.
Spacious and bright, with a seaside vibe that’s inviting and kid-friendly, The Cove brings a breath of fresh air to breakfast and lunch options on the coast. It’s well-stocked with books, crayons, games and coloring books, and even a Little Free Library that stands between the cash register and bakery case. With so many enticements beyond the menu, it feels like a place where folks are invited to slow down, which is great, because this is definitely food that deserves time for savoring each morsel.
The best way I can describe the dining experience is casual haute cuisine. You’ll see what I mean by reading the menu. It’s comfort food with a twist. Each item promises a thoughtfully curated combination of tastes, textures and surprises.
Owner and Chef Aaron Little comes with impressive credentials and a genuine passion for sharing creative, healthy meals with the Coastside community. His resume includes working in the wine country with renowned restaurateur Thomas Keller (The French Laundry) and launching successful restaurants in San Francisco and across the Bay.
Dining at The Cove recently with my fellow reviewer and another friend, I picked the chorizo and black bean Benedict, an excellent vegetarian option without the chorizo. Besides a generous helping of those amazing home fries, topped with onions, peppers and crumbled cotija cheese, the dish features perfectly poached eggs (not watery or dry) resting on black beans and crispy polenta. I thought it might be too much, but I finished every bite.
Another in our group had the roasted cauliflower sandwich, which boasts the same finessed balance of crispy and tender as the potatoes and polenta, and combines it with an innovative mix of Peruvian beans, sweet pepper spread, beet and radish slaw and pistachio pesto. The third breakfast was from the “build-your-own” column. She loved the scrambled eggs with cheddar and potatoes. The only disappointment was the biscuit, which was served cold and accompanied with butter and jam in plastic containers. Otherwise, thumbs up all around.
To provide a full report (and so I could try the cauliflower sandwich on gluten-free toast), I had to go back again with meat eaters. Another great meal. The fried chicken sandwich “club” comes stacked on a brioche bun with chopped romaine lettuce, farm bacon and fried onion strings. Not a crumb was left, although I don’t know how my friend got his mouth around the gigantic pile of yumminess. The same can be said for the lemon grilled chicken sandwich, served on grilled sourdough with a brie spread. It disappeared before I could even take a photo.
It’s definitely not fast food, nor fast food prices, but all of us felt the portions and quality merited the slightly higher cost. Keep an eye on this place. The Cove not only offers catering and a great assortment of baked goodies, from bagels and croissants to French-style macaroons, but they plan to bring prepared to-go meals to Half Moon Bay soon. Here’s hoping they might even open for dinner sometime in the future.
The restaurant reviews are done by two Coastside residents who enjoy sampling Coastside restaurants — from taquerias and sandwich shops to upscale places with Michelin stars. Reviewers choose to remain anonymous so that they get the same treatment as you would going to these places.