As the weather gets colder, Library III in Egg Harbor Township gets busier.

"This is our in-season," longtime-owner Mike Castello says.

Castello has owned the establishment for the past 17 years and was formerly an employee for several years. First and foremost, Library III is a steakhouse, offering a high-quality menu that ranges from "prime rib and crab cakes to its surf and turf and a salad bar," Castello says.

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But the restaurant also houses an oversized lounge area which really seals the deal. The intimate space has a full bar, additional low tables and plush seating, a working fireplace and live entertainment several nights a week. It's an ideal waiting area and post-dinner destination to extend the evening.

The restaurant has been voted the best date place several years, Castello says, likely because of the lounge.

"You can relax and listen to the entertainment while still being able to hold a conversation," he says.

Guests also are invited to skip the meal altogether and head straight to the lounge, which opens at 4 p.m. daily, a half hour before the restaurant. The full bar features a large selection of draught and bottled beers, wine by the glass, an extensive martini list and "the best margaritas around," says Castello, which are coined "Keith-a-ritas" after a bartender who made them famous.

Live entertainment is currently being offered 7 to 11 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Upcoming performances include Patty Blee Thursday, Oct. 25, and Tuesday, Oct. 30; Bob and Kit on Friday, Oct. 26; and Beth Tinnon on Monday, Oct. 29. Saturday, Oct. 30, will feature Billy & Jess.

Blee performs in the lounge every Tuesday and Thursday and brings in a large following, Castello says. According to her website, she's described as an Americana roots singer songwriter and a mix between Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raitt.

Ongoing Specials:

Library III is currently featuring a couple of menu specials, including a two-for-one appetizer special on Mondays and Tuesdays; a 10- to 12-ounce lobster tail special for $24.95 Thursdays; and a Sunday prime rib special for $19.95. The latter two also come with the salad bar.

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