Light but filling. Simple but flavorful. Top notch, but affordable. Buzzing, but tastefully so. These are the kinds of contrasts I look for when dining out. I want my dishes to be loaded with flavor, but not so much that it’s distracting. I want them to be light, airy, and earthy, but still fill me up so I leave feeling full. I like restaurant aesthetic to feel bustling and populated, but not to the point where I can’t talk to the person sitting next to me. Good, quality food is expensive, but if I can leave the table with a bill under $100 after three courses and two drinks, it’s money well spent.
These hard-to-find contrasts are not so hard to find — not if you’ve ever tried eating at the Covington. This spot is in the heart of downtown Edgartown, right across the street from the Port Hunter. They’re run by the same owners, so if you’re a Port Hunter person, you’ll probably find similar satisfaction at the Covington. By the way, did you know both the Port Hunter and Covington were vessels that collided in Vineyard Sound in 1918? The Port Hunter was a freighter packed with general cargo, war supplies, and ammunition for the American mission fighting in France. The boat was on its way to New York to join a convoy, and was struck by the Covington, a tug towing two barges, while passing. The Port Hunter sunk, and the wreck remains at the bottom of the ocean off our Vineyard shores. Now they’re both restaurants in Edgartown. Cool story — Let’s eat.
We chose a table by the window facing Main Street, which is still surprisingly busy even as we enter early fall. This is prime real estate for people watching. Some might call it, “The best seat in the house.” There’s something really cozy and homey about the inside of the Covington. Wooden ceilings, white painted walls, and plenty of soft and gentle lighting, unique fixtures, and a relaxing hue cast throughout the space. And then there’s the little things, like copper detailing, rustic nautical flair, indoor plants, hanging succulents, and pineapple decor. Another fun fact — pineapples are a symbol for welcome, friendship, and hospitality. Native Americans used to place them outside their huts if they were expecting visitors. This pineapple motif inspired us to ask if any cocktails came in those copper pineapple cups we kept seeing. We learned that yes, all of them can. It’s not often that you see fresh grapefruit listed as a cocktail ingredient, so that’s what pulled us toward the Shearwater ($15). We made it a double for photogenic purposes ($30). It’s made with bounty of St. Lucia Rum, montenegro, aperol, cinnamon, fresh grapefruit, lime, and angostura. It’s tasty, tart, refreshing, and a tad acidic. It will satisfy all those bitter-sweet cravings. And I do recommend the pineapple cup. There’s something inexplicably fulfilling about a cocktail’s vessel.
There’s a few sections on the menu: Snacks, Small Plates, Homemade Pasta, and Dinner Mains. We started with “Snacks,” and in the name of Derby season, we went with Island Bluefish Paté ($12). It’s prepared like a culinary masterpiece, with a spread of the smoked dip swiped across the plate like it were painted there with one stroke of a brush. Tiny, crispy, golden-brown and lightly salted potato chips rest on their side on top the spread. The dip is local, from MV Smokehouse, so it has that smokey warm finish. It’s also served with a cucumber and herb salad. Light, easy to eat, and room for more.
Next, we chose from the Small Plates section. I’ve only recently been introduced to the culinary genius that is panzanella. If you haven’t had it, the gist of it is it’s a bread salad. That’s right. bread salad! Is there such thing as a more perfect combination? Now I have a hard time not ordering panzanella if it’s on a menu. The Peach Panzanella ($15) is made with peaches, Vermont feta cheese, pepper jelly, torn sourdough, sherry vinaigrette, and mint. The bread’s texture is somewhere between a crouton and a fresh out of the oven-soft bread. It’s lightly seasoned, and bits of fresh and juicy peaches flavor the dish in all the right ways. Did you know peach season goes through the end of September? Try it now while it’s still in season.
We decided we had room for one more dish, and we chose from the Homemade Pasta section. You had me at homemade pasta. The Summer Squash Coulis caught my eye, probably because I’m hanging on to summer with every last bit of my being, so we went with that ($20). This dish is so delicious, I’m still thinking about it four days later. It’s made with campanelle, local squash, preserved lemon, parmesan, and basil. The campanelle pasta is shaped like little folded flowers, which holds flavor in every bite. The pasta is a little darker in color, leading me to believe it’s whole wheat. Preferable, if you ask me.
I was so happy with this meal. I first of all felt like I ate a feast, but like I said, the bill came in under $100. Next, I felt like I ate a healthy variety of foods, each dish tasting more flavorful, local, and colorful than the next. I’d be pretty confident ordering anything on this menu and expecting the experience to be just as good. Also, the Covington is notably pescetarian and vegetarian friendly. Tons of fish and vegetable-based choices, and still plenty of offerings for the omnivore’s out there. Give it a try if you haven’t yet, and note that they’re only open a few more weeks. The Covington closes for the season on Sunday, Oct. 7, so make sure you pop in if you’re in the neighborhood. You’ll probably find me there too.
For more information and Covington hours, visit thecovingtonrestaurant.com.