Food panels are popular early-evening entertainment these days, and they tend to make stomachs rumble for dinner with nary a nibble in sight. Having introduced its “Word of Mouth” food talks, Housing Works’ bookstore cafe is aiming to prevent that. The charity recently hired chef Michael Sherman to overhaul the Works, the catering business it’s had since 1997 that you may or may not have heard of (“We’ve had some very different iterations throughout the years,” executive director Susannah Lupert remarked wryly).
Sherman was most recently with the Crosby Street Hotel and has done stints at Aureole, Bouley, and La Grenouille. Like any food professional worth his toque in 2010, he plans to bring a focus on sustainable, local, greenmarket-sourced ingredients to the catering and cafe food, and a press release claims he plans to build a greenhouse in the city, as well.
At the bookstore cafe, changes have been evident for a few weeks now, with improved savory offerings like greenmarket salads, additional sandwiches incorporating local ingredients, and expanded pastries and desserts. Small bites like lamb with housemade bread are planned, at which point the spot might seem worthy of an evening bite and aperitif (there’s beer and wine for sale).
“We’ve been a café where you come and have coffee and share a brownie with a friend, but now we’re really going to be pushing lunch and breakfast,” says Lupert. “We get hundreds of people in our space every night, and want to have the option of light meals and pre-dinner snacks.”
Pastries and desserts go for $3, salads run $5, and sandwiches are $6, a few dollars less than breakfast and lunch prices elsewhere in the area–though of course what you save on food, you’ll spend on impulse book buys.