Columbus Monthly’s Best New Restaurants 2023: Cove: A Seafood Joint in Delaware
Chef Josh Dalton's seafood joint, Cove, is the latest in a string of restaurants to incubate on Winter Street.
You know you are in the right place when the Cove server informs you that the seafood boil—crab, lobster, mussels, sausage, corn on the cob and ’taters in a spicy, buttery pool—will be served with a “pasta back.” In other words, when you are nearly done dining on all that seafood, the server will return with house-made pasta for dumping into that leftover, Old Bay-esque, buttery sauce. That’s just chef-owner Josh Dalton up to his old tricks: leaving you with a good impression at the end of a meal.
Cove is the most casual of Dalton’s concepts to get their start at 15 E. Winter St., a space where his modernist restaurant, Veritas, and his Italian concept, Speck, both incubated before moving to fancier environs in Downtown Columbus.
Here, a visit starts with a cheerful greeting from Ana behind the bar, and you are soon handed a treat of boiled peanuts while you peruse the cocktail menu, stopping at the obvious choice: a sultry mezcal and passionfruit libation called a Todo Bien.
Next, go for fresh oysters with mignonette or a couple of luscious, Connecticut-style lobster rolls (a la Veritas) bathed in brown butter vinaigrette with shallots and the chef’s favorite herb, chervil. Balance the richness of the butter with the must-order Turkey and the Wolf Wedge, an homage to the salad served at the New Orleans-based sandwich shop (Bon Appetit’s 2017 Best New Restaurant). Poppy-seed laced blue cheese dressing, loads of herbs (namely dill) and everything bagel seasoning tops the crunchy iceberg lettuce.
In addition to the $80 seafood boil (great for sharing with a group), Cove’s rotating lineup of entrées includes shrimp po’boys, whole fried snapper, shrimp and grits, or mussels nested in a broth of shallots, wine and chipotle peppers. The chef also has added more non-seafood items of late. (Call it a seafood-ish joint.) Examples include a burger, Veritas-style confit wings and an herb-marinated shoulder filet.
Cove: A Seafood Joint
15 E. Winter St., Delaware, 740-417-4074, coveaseafoodjoint.com
Secret Weapons: Cove’s front-of-house manager, Ana Angeles, the wife of Dalton’s indispensable staffer Isidro Hernandez, has been a consistent, joyful presence at the Delaware restaurant since its time as Speck. Dalton calls Angeles the “mayor of Delaware” and says she is a wonderful cook in her own right. (Her salsas show up on the restaurant’s fish tacos.) Meanwhile, Hernandez has worked for Dalton since day one at 1808 American Bistro. The jack-of-all-trades prep-cook also handles much of the restaurant maintenance, from painting Cove its signature blue to updating the bathrooms. “If I could have five more Isidros, I could open up five more restaurants,” the restaurateur says.
What’s Next: Dalton loves the Winter Street space that has become his restaurant incubator. But Cove may be the last project he opens in that building, he says, adding that he’s unsure whether the seafood restaurant will graduate beyond Delaware. Still, he has no shortage of projects. After Speck is up to speed at its spiffy new Downtown Columbus address, Dalton plans to throw himself into researching (and dining at) French bistros ahead of opening his own across from Speck at the northeast corner of Gay and High streets.
This story is from the 2023 Best New Restaurants package in the March 2023 issue of Columbus Monthly.