1.02.2012

Meet Me at the Kove

So, I know everyone loses their minds about Tin Pan and how awesome the food is there. I get it, believe me! I worked in Sackets my first year out of college, and Andy Taylor was one of my fantastic Chamber members. I used to hold Chamber meetings there in the mornings, and would frequently get take-out lunch (they used to have a chicken muffaletta sandwich there that I drooled over). The grounds are idyllic, and they’re striving for a level of food there not usually found in our little corner of the sky.

But what I can’t figure out is why people aren’t more ga-ga (as in radio, not lady) for the Koffee Kove, in Clayton. That’s right, I’ve mentioned it before, and I spent enough quality time there this past weekend to give a real review. Now, KK is not as chi-chi as Tin Pan, either in its food or in its décor. And I can’t fully explain to you why I’m so enamored with diners, diner food and diner culture. But I can tell you that Koffee Kove is my happy place in Clayton. Its amalgamation of nautical interior, hearty and simple food, good natured wait staff, awesome coffee, and that glimpse of The River down the street add up to happiness every time!


Those are real fishermen, enjoying real food. You should follow suit.

This past weekend, my parents, our Miss TI board of directors, and a whole mess of contestants and their families, flooded into tiny Clayton for the 2011 Miss Thousand Islands Pageant. We enjoyed dinner at KK on Friday night, plus breakfast there Saturday morning with our friend and judges’ chair Deltra. I know our girls and their parents also enjoyed the delights encapsulated in The Kove. I didn’t ingest a single healthy item during either of these dining opportunities – but you wouldn’t expect anything less from Big Hungry, would you?


The amount of brown food on this plate just made Leslie H. keel over

This was my dinner, plucked straight from the specials board: fried haddock with fries and gravy. I wish it was in front of me again right now. Is that enough of an endorsement? Unlike the beer battered fish fry at The Boathouse, Koffee Kove coats theirs in a light breading that definitely features corn meal. I can feel my glycemic levels spike as I type this. The fish was flakey and fresh tasting, and I was very pleased with a light squeeze of lemon juice and some salt over top. There are a variety of sides from which to choose, as well: mashed potatoes, sweet potato fries, cole slaw, apple sauce, etc. But you know I am wedded in holy matrimony to the duo of fries and gravy. And they were great – the fries at The Kove are a frozen product, but they cook them up crispy and golden, and the gravy is fantastic.

Have we ever discussed my inexplicable fixation on ordering chocolate milk when in a diner? I don’t know if I get it from my Dad or what, but if I’m eating in a diner, I LOVE chocolate milk. I don’t drink it at any other time – just in diners. There’s something about good old America comfort food that makes a great mate for chocolate milk. Here’s proof it’s a family affliction:


Mom’s glass of chocolate milk is center stage, holding court between her burger and Dad’s clam strips.

Mom got the cheeseburger and sweet potato fries. The fries were fantastic – sometimes the sugars in sweet potatoes can make those fries overly caramelized. These tasted fresh and had an almost citrus quality. Yum. Mom didn’t mention her burger, to be honest, but she would have piped up if she was less than pleased, so I’m gonna call it good and done. Dad had the clam strips. We checked – they were a frozen product – but nothing wrong with that, as they were tender and crisp. Dad was really happy with his cole slaw, so I assume it’s made on premise. And he got a slice of pie for dessert, because he is very wise. Neither Mom nor I had any room in our tummies for such a luxury. He got the French coconut. I managed to squeeze in a bite, and it was TDF. Koffee Kove Rule #1: try to save room for pie if you dare.

The next morning for breakfast, the three of us were back, and as I said, joined by our friend Deltra, who eats much healthier than we do when we’re out and about. I had two eggs over easy with BACON, homemade white toast (thick and uneven and so deliciously homemade) and The Kove’s outstanding home fries. These are not hash browns, darling hearts, they are home fries. Big chunks of potato fried up all crispy on the flat top, with a mild onion flavor and absolutely begging for ketchup’s tangy kiss.

Deltra got something healthy. She tends to do that. I think it involved vegetables. Who ever heard of such a thing? And she eschewed toast and home fries, splurging on green tea instead. Hee. I know she was happy with her veggie omelet, though, and the teapot they brought her was hilariously fancy and silver, spawning a whole conversation about The Queen and what she eats when she visits Canada.


Dad’s breakfast. Please note the beloved 2010 Koffee Kove coffee mug in the top left. I bought one, natch. Koffee Kove Rule #2: Buy a mug

Daddy had ham and cheese in his omelet, as illustrated above. See his fancy ketchup pattern? He’s very artistic. He said the ham was the perfect balance between salty and sweet. That’s how I like my ham, too, so I snuck a bite, and was happy. The texture on the omelets at KK is never tough – whoever is manning the griddle in the back knows what she’s doing with eggs. Mom got the Kove Muffin, which I have been known to sample over the summers. It’s BACON, egg and cheese on an English muffin. Simple and delicious.

So this weekend, fuel up the SUV (or Prius) and take a little trek up to Clayton. Please note, you will most likely lose your cell signal just after Depauville, but it will come back! Wait out on the sidewalk with the rest of the cool kids for a coveted table inside Koffee Kove, and sample what I’m raving about. Take a moment to savor your perfectly roasted coffee, drink in the wood paneled serenity juxtaposed against some old codger over in the corner griping about his taxes, and eat something good. You can go to Tin Pan year round, but Clayton basically rolls up the sidewalks come September, so go now! Trust me: My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!

PS – Also hit up happy hour at the newly reopened Coleman’s Corner last Thursday. My brother, sister and I had drinks, plus buffalo wings and the Irish nachos, which were thinly sliced fried potatoes covered with nacho staples like salsa, cheese, jalapenos and sour cream. This was obviously not a full review, but the new interior is gorgy and the atmosphere is great. Richard’s wings were delicious, and even though my nachos were basically basic junk food, they were yummy. I’ll be back to tell more tales of this new joint!

Koffee Kove Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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