From the outside, The Cove seems like either a bona fide dive or a well-preserved Jazz Age joint, boasting a vertical, art-deco red "Cocktails" sign atop another neon-lit sign announcing "Lounge."
Images of stale-aired bunkers come to mind upon entering the thick front door and encountering not a single window. But therein lies the charm: shockingly cheap drinks (Blue Moon pitchers for $8.25 every night of the week), pinball, darts, and a projection TV, all in an old-school venue frequented by Hyde Park locals and U of C students alike. Divergent personalities commingle in a buzzing mish-mash of folks young and old enjoying the cheap liquor and memorable decorative touches (for instance, the "No Parking--Loading Zone Only!" sticker that graces the beer tap). Cozy up to a swivel stool at the bar, or lounge on one of the wooden benches that border long, cafeteria-style tables in the game room. A jukebox keeps The Cove thumping, although the artist selection is far from current and leans toward the commercial motorhead variety.
The insular, homey environment hums on game days, and you're sure to find your favorite team on one of the numerous mounted televisions. If you're in the mood to time travel, the '60s/'70s well-used decor provides a definite distraction from trendy, self-conscious clubs. Although dingy and worn, The Cove asks little of its guests, its sole intention to provide a space for even the most booze-addled to kick back and let their worries slide away for an evening.
Centerstage Reviewer: August Evans