The Library Kitchen & Taphouse
Really short night and really long day at work. That’s always fun.
On my way home, I called J to see what she wanted to do for dinner. Friday night is usually our dining out night, but by the time I got home, I had been up well over 24 hours. She suggested just ordering in, but I didn’t want to give up Friday night even though I was tired. Plus, there are a few places on my to-do list that only open for dinner and we usually go out for lunch. Since we were going out for dinner, I wanted to try one of those places.
The Library Kitchen & Taphouse is on Michigan Avenue east of Drake Road. In the almost two years we’ve lived in Kalamazoo, I have never drove down that stretch of Michigan. I had no idea where the restaurant actually was and I had never been by it. I kept looking at the address trying to figure out where it was.
The restaurant takes over the space that used to be the Firehouse Bar & Grill. It’s owned by the same people who own The Hanger on West Main My Bar in Grand Rapids, and Captain Lou’s in South Haven.
The parking lot and building are much larger than I expected. For some reason, I was picturing in my head a small joint similar to The Hangar. When this place was the Firehouse, I hear it was a pretty popular spot for WMU students. That was before I lived here so I’m just going on what little I’ve read about the place.
We showed up a little before 7:00 on a Friday night. There weren’t too many cars in the large parking lot so we had our choice of spaces. We all know that the winter has been pretty awful the last month or so here in Kalamazoo and the parking lot showed it. It was icy. Very icy and very hard to not only drive on, but walk on. What snow that was plowed was pushed up to the building and we had to step through a snow drift just to get to the front door. That was a little annoying, but not a problem you would have to worry about most of the year.
Once inside, we found a very spacious room which is definitely geared towards the college crowd. The tables are pretty sparse and there’s a lot of empty space that is good for mingling and dancing. There is the main bar area where the majority of tables are located and there’s a lower bar that also has a few games and pool tables. There were a couple groups of people hanging out in this area and a couple groups at the tables near the main bar.
J and I took a table sort of on the edge of the main bar space. We sat down at a pub table with a laminated wood top. Even though the furniture is pretty spread out, the space has a cool feel to it. Like Wayside West, it’s a place I probably would have enjoyed ten years ago. It’s hell getting old.
A waitress watched us sit down and came over with a couple menus. She took our drink orders while she was there. J got a Diet Pepsi, I ordered a beer. Since I didn’t see a beer list and I couldn’t see the taps, I just went with a PBR. The funny thing is, this used to be my beer of choice, but I’ve been drinking a lot of craft brews lately and that PBR tasted awful. My taste in beer has definitely matured which I’m very happy about. They had quite a few beers on tap, I was just too lazy to get up and see what they were. I did notice a sign for Arcadia Ales after I ordered.
The menu had a pretty large variety of pub fare. I skipped over everything and went straight to the burger section. I passed right over my usual Black & Bleu Burger because a little farther down the menu, there was something that looked even better. The sandwich I chose was the Jalapeno Bleu Burger. It’s pretty similar to the Black & Bleu, but spicier. The charred burger is topped with jalapeno’s, bleu cheese crumbles, Swiss cheese, and chipotle mayo. I asked to leave the mayo off, they didn’t, but it actually didn’t bother me this time. I guess my hatred for mayo is sometimes unfounded because I really liked this burger. The meat itself was a little overdone, but the toppings really made this burger something special. There’s the tang from the bleu cheese and the heat from the jalapeno. The Swiss cheese acted as a net to keep the jalapenos on the burger. The heat was perfect and overall, it was a burger I really enjoyed. The sandwich came with fries which were golden brown and crispy.
J found her favorite wrap on the menu and went with that. The Spicy Buffalo Wrap is grilled chicken tossed in hot sauce, with lettuce, tomato and choice of ranch or bleu cheese. She had the tomatoes left off, which they did, and the ranch served on the side. She was really excited about the wrap when it was set down in front of her and was initially a big fan. Then the heat kicked it in and it kicked in in a big way. It was very spicy. She wanted to keep eating because it had a great taste, but it was so hot. I took a bite and it was almost too hot for me and I like spicy foods. Wraps are usually aimed at women so I’m a little surprised it was as hot as it was. Not saying women don’t like spicy things, but the sauce was almost the kind of hot that guys dare each other to eat. The verdict was great flavor, but the spice needed to be toned down just a bit. Her wrap also came with fries and she really liked those as well.
Our bill was only a little over $18. I was very surprised at how low it was. We are both fans of the Hangar and I think The Library is definitely a place we will return to. From our standpoint, it’s unfortunate that they’re not open for lunch during the week because we don’t eat out for dinner very often. It’s one of those places that can walk a line between a college hang out and a great restaurant. If you’re looking for a place to eat near campus, The Library deserves consideration.