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A Cozy and Cool Happy Hour at Cove Cold Bar

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Cove Cold Bar, a "self-contained mini-restaurant," opened inside Haven late last year with chef de cuisine Jean Philippe Gaston taking charge. The regular menu is a trip around the world with offerings from Tahitian poisson cru to Mexican ceviche to Italian crudo. But the "seafood haven of sorts" also explores options with four legs with French steak tartare, lamb heart carpaccio and a goat heavy cheese selection. It is a culinary adventure you have to take.

Also worth the trip is the happy hour, which is short but definitely sweet, from 4 to 6 p.m. and from 9 p.m. to close. Make your way to the little enclosed haven inside Haven, grab the corner table and enjoy a cozy couple of hours away from the world, or grab a seat at the bar and chat it up with the man who's shucking your oysters. Either way, inside the little bubble that is Cove, the hustle and bustle of the restaurant is forgotten -- on the afternoon my girlfriends and I met there, we noted it was almost too quiet; we were afraid our laughter was going to draw too much attention, until some light samba music began to play.

We ordered everything on the Cove bar bites menu at $6 each. First to the table were the iced shrimp, six large boiled shrimp served simply with just wedges of lemon and house made cocktail sauce. The ceviche spoons consisted of tilapia, tomato, onion, cilantro and chiles -- the citrus was just right and all the other ingredients remained crunchy. The oysters on the half shell came four to an order; the server let us know that they were Conway Royales from northern Prince Edward Island, Canada. They were briny but not deeply salty, and the beautiful orange and shallot vinaigrette that came as a condiment was the perfect complement to the salinity. The last item was the oyster shooters, which come three to an order and with an option of three different flavors -- a michelada, a vodka-based and a sweet liquor-based.

We also added a couple of items from the Haven side of the menu -- also $6 each. The barbecue sauce on the pork sliders was a little too sweet, but the buns for the sliders were actually the famous yeasty rolls with coarse salt that you get at the beginning of your meal at Haven -- you know the ones I'm talking about -- so I didn't even care about the sauce. And you can't go to Haven and not have their shrimp corn dogs.

Haven's happy hour was always a winner, but the addition of all the cold items -- $4 8th Wonder beer on tap, $5 wine (including a bubbles option) and reverse happy hour -- definitely makes it one of my favorites.

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Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.