Gatos and golf

Cove Golf & Grill brings us putt-putt and perfect tacos.

The old Island Cove Adventures is wearing a new hat, and is no longer just a place to channel your inner Tiger Woods, but one with some darn good food, and an enticing outdoor dining spot.

Now called Cove Golf & Grill, the makeover is the brainchild of Brook Katzen, who when he moved to the Island in mid-March, had been looking for properties to develop workforce housing. “I’ve been coming here for most of my life,” Katzen said. “It was a family tradition for us to play miniature golf every year.” He laughingly adds, “The loser had to buy ice cream for the rest of the group.

“When I started to look at properties that were suitable for that kind of development, I saw that it was for sale. Initially, I was focusing on it as a housing site, and then got excited about the idea of running the miniature golf course.”

Katzen has given the place — an Island staple since 1992 — a new spin. “We’ve taken the business through a brand refresh. I’ve simplified the name, added the word ‘grill’ to remind everyone we also serve food, and adjusted the menu a little bit.” Among the new items are lobster rolls and the very popular lobster BLTs. Given Katzen’s memories associated with the ice cream, it is not surprising that he has kept a good thing going. He says, “We have the same great ice cream that they’ve been serving for years, and we feel it is the best ice cream on the Island.”

But something else is cooking at the Cove — Spring Sheldon’s El Gato Grande taco truck, which Katzen emphasizes adds a new dynamic to the overall experience. Sheldon, a Martha’s Vineyard–based freelance chef, explains, “El Gato Grande is the Island’s first taco truck offering authentic street tacos utilizing Island ingredients. The menu is inspired by my travels in Mexico. I live in Oaxaca during the off-season, and have been studying and learning the nuances of Mexican cuisine.”

You’ll taste some of Sheldon’s mouthwatering menu items such as braised beef barbacoa with pickled red onion, cilantro, and avocado; fried local fluke with chipotle mayo slaw; and MVM shiitakes with tomatillo salsa and avocado. Then there are enticing sides, which include watermelon, mint, and chamoy; cucumber and radish salad with cilantro; and Sheldon’s twist on some tried-and-true favorites with her arroz rojo, and also cumin black beans.

Sheldon and Katzen got together through happenstance. She started off doing taco party pop-ups at the Larder and the Little House Café. It was the owners of Little House that initially introduced Katzen to Sheldon and the idea of doing a taco truck together. Katzen recalls, “I called Spring and asked if she was interested. She was really excited about the idea. Since Spring lives in Mexico for half the year, we realized we needed to meet each other in person before we went into business together. In January, I flew down to Oaxaca, Mexico, where she lives part-time, to meet her and eat a lot of great tacos. We had great chemistry, and that relationship is strong. We are both extremely thrilled to be introducing this new business to the Island.”

The truck is based at the Cove, operating as an onsite restaurant on wheels, but it is also available for private events, including weddings, anniversaries, graduation parties, gallery openings, farmers markets, the Derby, and the like.

The truck is playfully decorated with a combination of Mexican and Vineyard landscape elements. It sits behind the miniature golf range in a dining area that Katzen has landscaped, and he hired a talented local artist Lily Keller, to create an appealing beachscape mural that starts along one wall and cascades down behind the truck as the perfect backdrop. Keller says, “I am always drawn to the dunes on Chappaquiddick. When I saw the big, empty wall, I just felt compelled to fill it with dunes. I hope it enhances viewers’ connection to the natural environment here on Martha’s Vineyard, even while they’re not on the beach — that it brings a bit of the Island’s natural beauty to what used to be just a parking lot.”

With so much tempting food in an alluring ambience, it’s a good thing you can work off what you eat with a rousing round of miniature golf.

 

The Cove Golf & Grill is open 10 am to 10 pm, seven days a week, and El Gato Grande from 3 to 9 pm, Wednesday through Saturday.