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Review: The Library and Joe’s Pub, New York in the USA

By Megan Lawton on 3rd February 2019

As the world’s 10th largest city, it’s safe to say New York can be overwhelming. Just googling ‘things to do’ can leave you in a pickle. So, thankfully, on a recent Christmas break to the Big Apple, my Mother and I discovered The Public Theatre; a venue home to a bar, restaurant and, you guessed it, theatre – well, two theatres actually! The Public say they are ‘a theatre by people for all people’ and, sure enough, this former library offers something for everyone.

We were lucky enough to be in town the same night the First Ladies of Disco were performing a Christmas set in Joe’s Pub. If you’ve not heard of the First Ladies of Disco, they’re a trio of soul singers, renowned for their powerful voices and, sure enough, they set the venue on fire with renditions of classic, festive tunes. But before we indulged in a night of funk, we grabbed a cocktail and bite to eat at The Library.

Both venues have an incredible cocktail list                                      Image credit: Shannon Sturgis

The Library is tucked away in the top corner of The Public and is a dream place to people watch: from eccentric old-school actors to intellectuals and women, who wouldn’t look out of place in 1950’s Hollywood. As our waitress said, it’s where the ‘Downtown somebody’s’ come to drink.

Naturally, in the company of ‘somebody’s’, we ordered two Proseccos, quickly followed by Snow Birds, a rum-based cocktail mixed with pineapple and seasoned with nutmeg and mint. The dry, sparkling prosecco contrasted well with the sweet, lively-tasting Snow Birds.

To eat we ordered a ham charcuterie plate, which, in the spirit of Christmas, was shaped like a wreath! The wafer-thin meat with accompanying pickled vegetables and sweet chutneys was a great sharing option – even if the pickled veg was slightly too sour for our taste. I should also say that sharing plates is not all The Library serves: I spotted some delicious-looking dishes on the surrounding tables.

The colourful ham sharing platter                                                       Image credit: Noah Fecks

There are many benefits of staying within one venue for an evening; leaving your belongings in the cloakroom, not having to brave the cold and (my favourite), being able to bring your drink with you when changing locations. So, after polishing off the ham, we happily headed downstairs to Joe’s Pub, armed with our Snow Birds.

Joe’s Pub is the more casual of the two theatre venues; it’s a small music space which makes performances all the more intimate. It’s an understatement to say that the room was electric on the night we visited. Audience members had flown in from all over the States to see the First Ladies of Disco perform and these impressive performers certainly made it worth their while.

The Library and Joe’s pub share the same menu, so, craving something sweet, we ordered, yet another sharing plate; this time it was a cheese board with honey, grapes, nuts and fruit bread. The three artisanal cheeses were tasty, as were the appetising accompaniments and we left feeling well fed, watered and merry.

The Public is not trying to compete with Broadway and, instead, prides itself on offering visitors an alternative version of New York’s exciting art scene-a version I would highly recommend engaging in. That said, even if art’s not your thing, for a true taste of where New Yorkers socialise, I’d still encourage a night of wining, dining and possibly even dancing at both the Library and Joe’s Pub.

Address: 425 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10003, USA
Phone: +1 212-539-8500
Website: publictheater.org

Main image credit: Noah Fecks