The Library at the Public

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Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Kielbasa sandwich with sauerkraut on a pretzel roll at the Library at the Public

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Short rib goulash with caraway cream at the Library at the Public

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Toasted mini crab rolls at the Library at the Public

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Jersey Lightning Sling cocktail at the Library at the Public

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Johnny the Fox cocktail at the Library at the Public

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Ode to Loggerhead cocktail at the Library at the Public

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

The Library at the Public

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Andrew Carmellini—the city's latest haute toque turned versatile empire builder—unveils his newest project: a paean to old-school New York, with a chefly modern touch, in the same landmark building as the revitalized Public Theater. Having turned out hot spots spotlighting rustic Italian (Locanda Verde) and globally inflected American (Dutch), he now references the Eastern European and Jewish traditions of the East Village and Lower East Side. Carmellini plucked chef Michael Oliver from Locanda Verde and installed him at the stove here, where he dispatches reconstructed standards, such as short-rib goulash with caraway-infused sour cream, or a grilled-kielbasa sandwich with riesling-braised sauerkraut on a toasted pretzel roll. Pair the preshow fare with one of the craft cocktails, like the Jersey Lightning Sling, which combines Laird's Applejack, lemon juice, house-made orgeat, maraschino liquor and club soda. The stately room, designed by architect David Rockwell, is modeled after the building's original inhabitant—New York's first public library—with clubby features like studded leather banquettes and industrial steel-frame bookcases.
Venue name: The Library at the Public
Address: 425 Lafayette St
mezzanine level
New York
Cross street: between Astor Pl and E 4th St
Opening hours: Daily 5:30pm-2am
Transport: Subway: N, R to 8th St–NYU; 6 to Astor Pl
Price: Average main course: $20. AmEx, Disc, MC, V
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David C

The 2012 renovation of the Public Theater lobby gave us a brighter, more playful and welcoming space to enter one of the city’s most beloved institutions. Now you could go up to the lounge area on the mezzanine level and check your device while sipping coffee or reading a book before curtain. But even better was the opening of The Library. Every theater should have an in-house restaurant or bar, to lubricate the audience and add to the fun social vibe of seeing a show, and the Library is really good. I’ve had and loved these items: Roasted Beets, Summer Berries, Pistachio, Chevré(perfect light summer fare); Baja Fried Fish Taco, Salsa Verde, Avacado, Jalapeño (again, not too heavy); the Joe’s Burger, Caramelized Onions, Bacon, Cheddar is one of the best burgers you can get below 14th Street. The martini is thoughtful & aromatic, served in those modestly sized champagne glasses. As its name indicates, the Library has a bookish décor. It’s intimate, casual, the staff is very knowledgable, personable and charming. What more could you ask? Of course: a fine show at the Public!