Dates that give a new meaning to cool nights

Cozy settings beckon with reasonable prices

Scene: Clubs/Bars/Nightlife

October 28, 2004|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,SUN STAFF

The temperature is slowly dropping, and the days are getting darker. But fight the urge to hibernate. Cold weather makes a warm bar cozier, an outing more adventurous. These are some not-too-pricy cold-weather dates.

Something fishy

Estimated cost: $70 (Two tickets to aquarium, $10; dinner for two, $60).

After work Friday, tour the National Aquarium. Of course the place can be teeming with kids during regular hours, but on Friday nights it is open until 10 p.m., and most screaming 4-year-olds will be in bed.

Catch a dolphin show at 5:15 p.m. or 7 p.m., wander through the Amazon river forest (cheaper than a trip to South America). And, we hear that couples tend to gather by the shark tank.

Best of all, admission is $5 a person on Friday evenings. But, pay attention to the time, because visitors must arrive by 8 p.m.

Naturally, peering at all those fish and crabs will whet your appetite. So, follow up with a seafood dinner.

City Lights Seafood is nearby and offers an "excellent, moderately priced crab cake," according to a recent Sun review.

The National Aquarium is at 501 E. Pratt St. Call 410-576-3800 or visit www .aqua.org. City Lights Seafood is at 301 Light St. Call 410-244-8811.

The mix-it-up date

Cost: $77 (Dinner and drinks for two, $60; a six-pack, $6; one hour at Patterson Bowling Center for two including shoe rentals, $11.)

Dine early on Tuesdays at Helen's Garden in Canton. The wood floors and brick walls contribute to a warm and cozy ambiance. On a recent visit, a scrumptious wine and garlic aroma permeated both floors.

On Tuesdays, $25 will buy you a three-course meal (salad, soup or appetizer, dinner) and three tasting glasses of wine.

Then head over to the Patterson Bowling Center.

This is duckpin bowling only, hon. The two stories of alleys are squeezed into this tiny space. The front desk is staffed by Lou Krasnodemski, who appears to be 400 years old. He'll get you squared away with shoes.

The lanes are vintage and creaky, which adds to the charm. Alcohol is b.y.o., so, if your dinner wine was not enough, pick up a six-pack on your way there.

Helen's Garden is at 2908 O'Donnell St. Call 410-276-2233 or visit www.helensgarden.com. The Patterson Bowling Center is at 2105 Eastern Ave. Hours are all over the map - but it is generally open until 9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 1 a.m. (or midnight) on Fridays. Call 410-675-1011 or visit www.pattersonbowl.com. Shoe rentals are $2 per pair, and the lane is $3.50 per lane per hour.

Something new

Estimated cost: $40-$72 (Light dinner for two and drinks, $40; free reading this weekend; regular-price tickets for two: $32).

Order munchies from the bar menu downstairs at Dionysus - a new bar/restaurant in Mount Vernon. Settle in to the comfy chairs at one end of the room or sidle up to the long wooden bar.

The place is a haven for arty hipsters - John Waters was spotted there last week.

Then stroll down the street to the Theatre Project, whose mission includes supporting "artists who are actively experimenting with new forms of expression."

This Saturday they're putting on a free reading of Rebecca Rice's Waiting in Vain. The next weekend its fall play Babel opens. Tickets to that will be $16.

Dionysus is at 8 E. Preston St. Call 410-244-1020. Theatre Project is at 45 W. Preston St. Call 410-752-8558 or visit www.theatreproject.org.

Blob out

Estimated cost: $38 (bratwurst and beer for two $30; admission for two for most shows: $8).

Blob's Park, a polka hall and beer garden, is about 20 minutes south of Baltimore. The drive-up appeal alone is cause for excitement - you see a sprawling faux Tudor building surrounded by a large field.

The interior feels like an oversized VFW hall. Long tables with red tablecloths line the dance floor. Flags of various European nations festoon the walls, and a long stage for live polka bands stands at the front. German beer and sausages are served.

And, while there will likely be some talented polka dancers, the novice won't stand out, according to David Eggers, a staff member. "Who says any of the other people know how to polka dance?" he asked.

Hours are 7 p.m.-midnight Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m.-8 p.m. Sundays.

Blob's Park is at 8024 Blob's Park Road in Jessup (Route 175 at the Baltimore-Washington Parkway). Call 410-799-0155 or visit www.blobspark.com for more information or directions.

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