At Cove Hollow Tavern in East Hampton, the strategy is straightforward: Keep it fresh, keep it simple yet sophisticated—and let the food speak for itself. Like many of the best things in life, the inspiration came from the co-owners’ mothers.
“Our moms cooked,” said Lisa Harwood, who opened the restaurant May 25 with her husband Terry. “We didn’t eat out every meal. We didn’t get dinner out of the bag or out of the freezer. They cooked—and boy, did they cook.”
If the Harwood surname sounds familiar, that’s because it is—especially to Long Islanders who’ve dined on Shelter Island at Vine Street Café, which the two founded in 2003.
Over a decade later, the duo (both also chefs) wanted to bring their love of food and hospitality to the South Fork. They leased the 125-year-old building and completely gutted it. Designing the space was a complete collaboration. Terry used his carpentry and spacing skills and Lisa her eye for color and design. Throughout the restaurant, Cove Hollow Black, a color Lisa created specifically for Cove Hollow Tavern, brings out some of the greens and golds speckled throughout the old slate flooring. It complements the white walls and exposed beams to recreate the typical coastal-style home found in the Hamptons. A rowboat adorns the back wall, adding to the simple, clean design.
The food is just as fresh and inviting, cooked and presented in a simple manner. Starters include lobster bruschetta, haricot verts salad (soba noodles, tamari-peanut vinaigrette, sprouts, raw vegetables, sesame) and heirloom tomato salad, made up of a variety of locally grown tomatoes, opal basil, French feta and evoo.
Seafood takes up a portion of the entrees: grilled Montauk swordfish, skillet seared diver scallops and the lobster pot, which will change depending on the season (think lighter to heartier). Also on the menu is roasted chicken, wood grilled NY strip and a harissa lamb burger with brioche, arugula, red onion, heirloom tomato, cucumber and harissa aioli.
Diners can wet their whistle with eight beers on tap and a variety of wines—some are regional but the owners are waiting on other American wines, including California reds to fully complement the ever-changing menu.
“We’re not trying to be exclusive. We’re not trying to be restricted to locals,” said Terry. “Anyone who wants to walk in and rub elbows with anyone who’s here–we’re happy to have them.”
Cove Hollow Tavern is located at 85 Montauk Hwy, East Hampton.