Set A Spell

Written by Mary Ann Fitzmorris April 21, 2024 21:47 in Dining Diary

There used to be a joint deep in downtown Covington that was raffish, and appropriately so because it was the kind of homey comfort food that belonged in a place that was raffish. It was a ramshackle building across the street from the train depot, so that dates it as old. 

The Beck’n’Call served sandwiches and comfort food specials. It closed with COVID and sat idle for a while. But about a year ago a marketing campaign started featuring a place called The Haven in downtown Covington.

Just the name Haven connotes a place you want to hang in to take respite from life, and that is exactly what the place is. It took us a while to get there, mainly because we don’t “hang” anywhere, and the menu was spartan. We eat, so the allure was not strong. But the curiosity about it was.

We finally made it there recently, and the name couldn’t be better. If I had to describe The Haven in a single word, it would be haven. The place is gorgeous. I didn’t realize how large the space was, but it is quite large. It couldn’t be any more different than what was there before.

The design is glamorous, both inside and out. Each section of seating is more inviting than the last. I couldn’t decide where I wanted to be.

There are two counters, one for coffee that is sold in cups and bags, and the other for food. Some food is made in house, other items not. There is a specials board each day with a few items on it: a hot special, a salad, and a dessert item.

The menu is far-reaching and includes more coffee, tea, and cocktail choices than food. The food section offers more breakfast choices and leans toward modern breakfast in hip places, like avocado toast and grain bowls, pop tarts, etc. Traditional things like brownies and chocolate chip cookies share space with macarons. 

We wanted to eat a full breakfast, but I got a brownie to start and a double cappuccino for Tom. There were no omelets or much else in the way of a “regular” breakfast, so when I noticed the lunch special of debris and cheese grits I ordered that. And Tom seemed unusually interested in a menu item he used to find amusing, so we got him the avocado toast.

I also wanted to try the chicken salad but I got the kid’s portion with crackers instead of a full sandwich on what seemed to be an ordinary croissant. These are made in-house, part of the 50% of baked goods here that are.

Tom’s cappuccino was beautiful, and he loved the coffee. Since people were coming in to buy bags, I’m assuming it is great coffee. There are a lot of coffee roasters out there now, and I wonder what differentiates them from each other. People seemed enthusiastic about this coffee. Even Tom, and he is a traditionalist.

I liked the brownie a lot. It was dark chocolate and filled with “ stuff” like dark chocolate chips. There is no such thing as too much chocolate for me, so the chips were an enhancement. The brownie was dense, and cakey, which is a texture I like.

I also got an egg over easy, which it was. Getting an egg cooked to your request is almost as hard as getting beef that way, but this was. The biscuit was fine but ordinary. Tom's avocado toast seemed to please him. The bread was a dense "healthy" slice of bread, toasted appropriately. Avocado was spread and topped with feta cheese and pickled onion. I have never seen the appeal of this and I still don't.

When the debris and grits came, it looked less than appealing. But that was because the debris was just shreds of meat, rather than chunks and shreds. The taste was very good. It was cooked in-house, and the combination of the cheese grits and the brisket was very tasty. Some would call it salty, but I like that.

The chicken salad came last. I like chicken salad a lot, the chunkier the better. This was pulverized chicken that was served from a scoop. It came with water crackers. I loved this chicken salad, and want to start making mine that was. I think I prefer it to my chunky style. Who knew?

Throughout our visit there was a steady stream of customers who came there to hang out for what seemed like extended periods of time, judging by the conversations with the staff. I can easily see that, and I can understand it. 

The Haven represents the latest iteration of a coffee shop. In the evening people hang out with cocktails. There is a large section of the menu for that. The food does not change into evening bites that would pair well with cocktails. 

There is not enough variety of food offerings to support such lengthy visits, but I don’t think it matters. This lovely and welcoming place will draw people there, regardless of what they consume. It is aptly named. A haven.