Who said libraries were old news? This late night bar two minutes from Highbury and Islington station, is well worth a look-in and has a delicious Thai menu that's required reading.
You'd expect The Library to be cool, wouldn't you? It's on Islington's trendy Upper Street after all, plus a bar needs to be pretty special to get away with a name normally associated with quiet, dusty old buildings. Well, it is cool, and it certainly doesn't look or feel like a library. There are a few bookshelves, but nobody will make you use them. Dark green wood-panelled walls, geometric wallpaper and Chesterfield sofas give the place a really grown up feel, as does the framed fine art on the walls. There's plenty of seating out front too, if you fancy a spot of people-watching.
The Library doesn't open until 5pm, which instantly gives it a bit of an exclusive edge: if you want to come here, you’ve got to wait. It also means you're mostly likely to find after work drinkers and late night party-goers in here, especially at Wednesday's open mic or Thursday's comedy night. The background music is louder than in most pubs, which adds to that 'night out' vibe, but you can still hear yourself talking and the song selection is a chilled mix. Think The Smiths and The Cure with some smoother tunes thrown in. Sitting in a pub called The Library listening to Morrissey sing about his girlfriend in a coma could really make you feel like you should be wearing a woolly cardigan. The place isn't enormous; a staircase divides the bar in two, which means both sides feel intimate and cosy, particularly if you're sitting in a booth or on the 'stage' behind the door.
The kitchen serves an extensive, delicious-sounding Thai menu. Starters at The Library include duck spring rolls (£4.95) and a mixed platter (£9.95), while mains are so varied you'd have to be really picky not to find something you like. The chef's specials include steamed sea bass (£10.95), weeping tiger (£10.95) - actually grilled sirloin - and drunken crispy duck (£8.95). Not a Thai fan? Well you can sate yourself with chips. There's also Sunday roast every week.
There's a varied selection of wines on offer - by the glass and the bottle. Pop in for happy hour between 5pm and 7pm and cocktails are £4.50. A small coke will set you back £1.80 – rather reasonable for these parts. There's plenty of beer on draught too, including Beck's, Aspell, Grolsch and Guinness.
The Last Word
It's louder than a library but there's still that classy, luxe feel of a reading room. When a bar's this close to the station, it's worth popping in on the way home and seeing for yourself - especially during The Library's happy hour.