When Disney California Adventure Park opened in 2001, what is now known as Ariel’s Grotto was then called Avalon Cove Restaurant by Wolfgang Puck. The Cove Bar was an extension of this upscale eatery. Although the actual restaurant was transformed later that year, the bar remained the same with only a change in décor and food offerings. Instead of it being swanky and sophisticated as before, the area looks more in tune with early 20th century seaside amusement parks. There’s seating, but somewhat limited and everything is outdoors. It is an extremely popular place during early evenings because it offers views of the World of Color show.
There is only one menu, which mainly lists all the drink selections available. The Cove Bar has a wide variety of mixed drinks, beer, and wine. They even have some very unique non-alcoholic specialties for kids and non-drinkers. Near the very back of the menu booklet, one can find a single page of food with seven different options. All are fairly common bar food items such as nachos, sliders, and wings.
Although food is not the primary motivation to visit the Cove Bar, the quality is quite good. On two different visits, my wife and I were able to sample a couple of items. On the first occasion, we had the Lobster Nachos. This is highly touted by many other food reviewers and deservedly so. The tortilla chips are served hot and covered generously with jack and cheddar cheeses. Added atop are beans, pico de gallo, sliced serrano peppers, freshly chopped cilantro, and a dollop of chipotle cream. The piéce de résistance is, of course, the yummylicious lobster pieces. Since I’m a chili head, I ordered extra serrano peppers for myself. For those who don’t like spicy, the little green devils can be omitted or served on the side.
The Lobster Nachos were so good that we ordered them on our subsequent visit to the park. The flavor combination of this dish is outstanding. The cheeses provide a good middle ground for the other ingredients, not too mild nor too sharp. Personally, I love the caramelization of the cheese along the edges of the plate. Pico de gallo is a nice contrast in flavor offering the acidity of tomatoes with a touch of zing from the onions. Of course, the highlight is the lobster. Though slightly overcooked, it was not rubbery. The cooks utilize claw meat, which is great because that is where you get the most lobster flavor. On top of it all is the chipotle cream. This proved to be very complimentary to the lobster and tied the other ingredients together nicely.
We also tried the Citrus-marinated Shrimp Cocktail Martini. There are five jumbo-sized shrimps with slices of cucumber sitting around the edges of a martini glass. At the bottom of the vessel are some mixed greens and a couple of lime wedges on top. There is a sprinkle of spices on the shrimp, but it’s not hot spicy. On the side is some cocktail sauce for dipping. The shrimp was slightly undercooked, but tasted good nevertheless. The name indicates that the shrimp is “citrus-marinated,” but it was hard to discern from eating the meat by itself. However, the mixed greens do have a citrus-type salad dressing. My wife and I both really liked this dish. As a seafood lover, I would definitely order it again.
Cove Bar offers a vast array of drinks ranging from elaborate mixers to wine by the glass. They do have a nice variety of beers on tap and, if you can’t find something you like, there is always their bottled selection. For the most part, the menu mirrors other drinking establishments around the resort. There are a few specialties such as the Sideshow Novel-Tea and Midway Martini.
During our two visits here, my wife ordered a couple of non-alcoholic drinks. She got the Coconut Elixir and Pomegranate Splash, which I sampled both. The Coconut Elixir is made using coconut water with pineapple and cranberry juices. It was very tropical tasting and refreshing. Not too sweet, just enough to accentuate the flavor of the coconut water and other juices. The Pomegranate Splash is a combination of pomegranate, orange and cranberry juices topped with soda water. This was a slightly sweet and tart. My wife enjoyed it, but I found it didn’t work for me as much. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t my thing.
You can tell that the Cove Bar staff is geared towards fast-turnover. This area is prime real estate for viewing Paradise Bay during the day and the World of Color show at night. As such, they try to get people their orders as quickly as possible. The wait staff is friendly and cordial, but they seem to want an expeditious turnaround if possible.
The Cove Bar is not a place for a sit down meal, but is excellent when wanting a nice respite from the California Adventure park. It’s a great place to socialize with friends and/or family, grab a drink, and eat some tasty bar food. There may be times you have to stand in line for a seat, but the view is worth it. If possible, try to wait for a water-side table for the best experience.