The Library – South Side Pittsburgh
As I approach my mid-thirties I’m getting less and less inclined to head to the South Side for an evening outing. Other neighborhoods such as Bloomfield, Lawrenceville and Shadyside have a multitude of attractive dining options which overshadow the current crop of lackluster chains and outdated Carson Street establishments. South Side certainly has a diverse scene of bar options to satisfy every taste but I’m usually only excited to go there with my buddies to wax nostalgic or to show out-of-town visitors Pittsburgh’s reasonable facsimile of a vibrant nightlife.
However, the one culinary destination in the South Side that I do hold in high esteem is The Library. It’s located right on Carson Street midway between the gentrified Southside Works area and the popular bar-hoppin’ blocks starting around 16th Street. My wife and I decided to head there on a recent beautiful summer evening and found a great parking spot* right across from Philips Park. Just as we got to Carson Street, some kid stumbled right past us vomiting all over himself and the street which was a great re-introduction to the South Side.
The Library is a fun bar/restaurant which has a literary theme. The menus are within old hardcover books and all of the dishes reference famous authors or literary characters. On this evening we were fortunate to be seated upstairs in their outdoor area because it was pretty loud as we made our way through the first floor**. I started my evening with a Full Pint White Lightning (ABV 5.5% - Witbier) and it was a solid wheat beer. I’m moving on to Porters next month because my beer palette shifts as the seasons change so I’ve been trying to get in as many varied wheat options as I can before fall arrives. Along with our drinks we had the Magic Pretzel as an appetizer which was a few smallish pretzel sticks and a side of beer cheese for dipping. The pretzels were warm and soft and the dipping sauce was good albeit unspectacular. For dinner I went veg and got the Alice in Wonderland which is a fancy portabella and cheese sandwich. It had a substantial heft to it and was filling enough to make me not miss beef. The hand-cut fries with accompanying jalapeno aioli were a wonderfully delicious side and The Library’s fries are my second favorite only behind the Smallman Street Deli’s.
Final Call: The South Side is more befitting a twenty-something bar-crawlin’ crowd and I’ve edged out of that target democratic. Regardless, The Library is one of the best bar/restaurants in Pittsburgh because of its refined yet edgy food and ambiance and it’s a great reason to put up with the South Side riff-raff.
* The more of these restaurant reviews I write, the more I find myself complaining about parking. That is definitely a sign I’m getting old.
** Now I’m complaining about how loud it is. Next thing you know I’ll be pulling a shotgun out and yelling at Asian kids to get off my lawn.