In an ever changing landscape of New York City restaurants it’s refreshing to find one that you know will be around for a while. The Library at The Public is an Astor-era lounge tucked away in the mezzanine level of The Public Theater’s new downtown home at Astor Place serving classic and inspired cocktails, wine, and Chef Andrew Carmellini’s eclectic American menu sourcing local ingredients and New York influence.
The Library, named for the building’s original use as the Astor Library, is a central element of the mezzanine level, newly built with the revitalization of our landmark building’s downtown home at Astor Place. Open late nightly for dinner and cocktail service, the hidden away space plays dinner bar, watering hole or backstage lounge to downtown denizens and neighborhood dwellers, theater-goers coming or going, academics and artists alike.
You would never guess that this dark mysterious library lounge exists when you walk into the stark modern white lobby of The Public—and walking into it, Narnia-style, adds to the mystique and excitement.
The ambiance is the perfect balance of a classic NY bar and a modern lounge, all lined with Library style bookshelves and ladders. The cocktail list is innovative and dangerous—don’t skip having a libation from the in-house mixologist who serves everything from the slightly sweet Damsel’s Downfall (Tequila, Apple-Cinnamon Shrub, Club Soda) to the Ron Burgundy-esque Johnny the Fox (Cognac, Maderia, Walnut Liquor, Orange Bitters). They use a tried and true technique with a charming approach to the cocktail classics, and the wine list features a small collection of grower champagnes and beers on tap.
The menu is appropriately split into Act I, Act II and Act II with a late night Curtain Call menu and features eclectic, American menu of bar snacks, shareable appetizers, sandwiches, dinner plates and desserts. Peekytoe crab rolls, locally sourced cheese plates, and the crudité platter with wasabi dip are all perfect sharing plates for a pre-dinner snack or late night dinner.
The cuisine is bar food with a very sophisticated attitude and much lighter touch…you can find a refreshing Arugula Salad with Apples, Marcona Almonds and Parmesan or hearty Fennel-Glazed St. Louis Ribs as your Act II. Joe’s Classic Burger and the Grilled Lamb Chops with Cous Cous Salad and Mint sound out of place on the same menu but they make it work. The burger lets its main ingredients shine and doesn’t try and get too fancy…sometimes cooking simply, but well, is what makes a dish so enjoyable. The desserts are all pretty decadent and out of control, so you’ll have to order one of each if the table isn’t groaning under the weight of it all yet.
Cozy, inviting and classy without being pretentious, The Library at The Public might just be our new favorite NoHo hangout…