Tucked away in a side alley in South Bethlehem is a dining experience incomparable to any in the area. As you open the dark door that’s almost fit for a warehouse, you’re met with dim lights, ornate decorations and the sense you’re no longer in the twenty-first century. You’ve entered the world of the 1920s prohibition era and found yourself at an unground speakeasy – The Bookstore Speakeasy.
The first time I walked into The Bookstore, I was mesmerized. I felt as though I found a secret gem in Bethlehem. I had gone for drinks there a few times, but had been dying to dine there for quite some time. As a birthday gift to my best friend Lindsay, I took her out to dinner there.
Not a single detail is overlooked when you attend The Bookstore. The lighting is picturesque, the menus come in old books, the staff is dressed elegantly and there is live music during certain times of the evening. The scene is set and you are immersed in a romanticized era.
To begin our meal, we ordered cocktails. I highly suggest ordering cocktails at The Bookstore because they’re not your usual bar cocktails. These drinks are works of art, but I must warn they are quite strong. I ordered Pandora’s Box for my first drink. It was a concoction of pear Grey Goose, fresh lemon juice, pineapple juice, simple syrup and egg whites. Lindsay ordered the Shirley Temple of Doom, the pièce de résistance. This drink has doom in the name for a reason. It’s a mixture of grenadine, first three bottles of liquor that pops into the bartender’s head, fresh orange juice, pinch of sugar (only if the bartender is in a good mood), double dash of absinth, splash of ginger ale, one cherry, and a strong constitution of backbone, courage and a dash of Chutzpah. It’s suppose to be limited to one per customer, but Lindsay ended up ordering two. My drink was creamy and sweet, while Lindsay’s was strong and potent, but that’s why you’re only suppose to order one.
I ordered the escargot as my appetizer. It came with spinach, fresh tomato and white wine herb butter. I love escargot, and it’s not your usual menu item so I was very happy to find it at The Bookstore. The presentation was different from what I’m used to – it wasn’t in the typical escargot plate with holes. I overall thought the escargot were pretty good, but not as flavorful as escargot I’ve had elsewhere. I thought the dish needed more garlic and butter to take it to the next level. The tomato was a nice touch to add some freshness to it, but I don’t think the spinach had a place in the dish. The lighting at The Bookstore is quite dark and I thought a piece of spinach was a piece of escargot that had fallen out of the shell, but I then realized it wasn’t once I ate it. However, I was very pleased that it came with bread. Dunking bread in escargot sauce is part of the experience, and the best way to finish off the course.
For my entree, I ordered the braised short ribs, which came with haricot vert, fingerling potatoes and demi-glace. These short ribs were some of the best short ribs I’ve had in my life – they were so tender you could cut them without a knife. The vegetable pairing was perfect and I was really happy that the dish came swimming in sauce. This added a lot of flavor, especially for the vegetables.
Instead of ordering dessert, I went with another drink – Violent Tendencies. This drink was a mixture of tequila blanco, Plymouth sloe gin, freshly squeezed grapefruit, fresh lemon juice, creme de violette, absinthe verte, touch of sugar and champagne. This drink was much stronger and less sweet than Pandora’s Box, but it wasn’t unbearably strong. I love tequila and would happily order this drink again.
My dinning experience at The Bookstore lived up to my expectations. Our waitress was very kind, but I noticed our overall experience took a while. However, it wasn’t in a bad way. I didn’t feel as though I was waiting forever for my food, but I got the impression everything happens slowly there so you can enjoy your experience. I would highly recommend eating there but I caution it is very expensive, even going there just for cocktails is expensive. The ambiance, the food and the drinks make it very worth it, though. Eating at The Bookstore is more than just going out to eat – it’s an experience.
The Bookstore Speakeasy
336 Adams Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015
Tues- Sat 5:00 PM-2:00 AM