ABOUT COOKBOOK BAR & CAFÉ
Cookbook Bar & Café is a counter-service eatery located in the Austin Central Library, celebrating culinary-themed publications available for guests to browse through in the library. Guests can also enjoy craft beers, wines, and literary-themed cocktails at the eatery.
The Cookbook Bar & Café menus, curated by Chef Drew Current of ELM Restaurant Group, pull from recipes from the pages of cookbooks created by revered chefs across the country that have inspired Curren, particularly paying respect to the South and Mexico. Incorporating farm-to-table ingredients whenever possible, the menu will change seasonally.
“It was important that Cookbook Bar & Café was not only an amenity to the new Austin Central Library, but an extension of it,” says Curren. “I wanted there to be an educational piece that tied back to the menu and the books from which the recipes were published. Not to mention, our guests will enjoy an ever-changing menu with no boundaries!”
The restaurant interior was designed by VeroKolt, in partnership with architect Lake Flato, boasting approximately 50 seats inside and 75 seats outside on the patio. The calming space is abundant with notes of whites, browns and blues, complemented by locally sourced white oak and steel and mill work by a variety of local artisans. The large windows allow natural light to pour in, and the shaded patio provides a steady breeze. On the library’s expansive rooftop, Cookbook also offers a coffee cart with drip coffee, a variety of pastries, and more, for patrons to enjoy while taking in beautiful views of the city.
Cookbook is also proud to showcase a special collection of over 500 cookbooks, formerly belonging to the late Austin Chronicle food editor, food critic and champion of Austin food culture, Virginia B. Wood. A fifth generation Austinite, Wood was an avid cook, working as the first pastry chef at Fonda San Miguel, and operating her own wholesale dessert and catering company, Las Dulces. She went on to self-syndicate a newspaper column about Texas food called At Home on the Range, before writing for the Austin Chronicle from 1993-2014.
Upon Wood’s recent passing in March 2018, a group of her closest friends and writers spearheaded by Claudia Alarcón, MM Pack and Chef Pamela Nevarez-Fischer, chose Cookbook as the new home for the Virginia B. Wood Memorial Cookbook Collection, where food lovers and cooks alike could have access to them. The books span from the 1950s until today, and it includes dozens of Texas-centric books and authors, a selection of Diana Kennedy’s books, and at least three editions of the classic The Joy of Cooking.