Bedrock Billiards racks up points for fun

ON NIGHTLIFE

August 17, 2006|By SAM SESSA

Let's say you're going to see a play at the Hippodrome Theatre.

The Hipp Cafe inside the building is jampacked, and you're in the mood for something more casual than Maggie Moore's, the Irish restaurant and bar across the street. Until a few weeks ago, you didn't have another nearby bar to hang out pre-show.

But now that Bedrock Billiards is open, there's a more colorful, casual member of the growing west side nightlife family.

Think of Bedrock Billiards as the laid-back uncle who wore suits with wild colors to weddings but somehow pulled it off. It was probably his attitude - constant, utter coolness - that let him get away with almost anything.

Bedrock is an unusual combo - part flashy lounge, part sports bar and part pool hall. The furniture and lighting have vibrant colors. (Some of the glittery table tops sparkle as you walk by them). But somehow, it works. And when play season starts in a couple of weeks, it's going to be a big hit.

From the outside, Bedrock is pretty imposing. It's housed in an old bank building, formerly the Vault, a live music venue. And from the inside, a super-high ceiling and huge windows make the main floor seem cavernous. It's hard to fill a space like that, but Bedrock does a decent job. Colorful lights hang from the ceiling, five pool tables dominate the center of the room and tables and chairs line the walls. The main bar is to your right as you walk in, and some flat-screen TVs are scattered about the walls.

But Bedrock's better half is the floor below. Downstairs has a totally different vibe - much more intimate and comfortable. The space is laid out to accommodate the two pool tables, three dart boards and two full-length shuffleboard tables without making it seem crowded.

It costs $6 per person per hour to claim a pool or shuffleboard table Sundays-Thursdays, and $8 per person each hour Fridays and Saturdays. Darts are always $1, according to our bartender. To play any of the games, you give the bartender your ID as insurance. As long as you don't lose or break anything, you get it back when you're done.

Or you can opt for a board game. Bedrock had Scrabble, Monopoly, Uno and Sorry on hand - which blew me away. I was tempted to start a game of Scrabble on the red couches downstairs, but they were occupied.

The jukebox downstairs had one of the widest selections I've seen - everything from Django Reinhardt to James Brown to INXS to Tupac to Ryan Adams. But some trickery was afoot: About a third of the albums were missing the little paper sheet with the track listings, so it was impossible to select songs from them. When we were there last week, we heard the Roots, followed by most of Gnarls Barkley's album, and then some Tupac. Touche, jukebox, touche.

Bedrock's two bars - one on the main floor and one downstairs - have a surprisingly good drink selection. Local microbrews like Brewer's Art Birdhouse and the Raven are among the 14 beers on tap, and there are another 15 bottles to pick from.

If you're looking for mixed drinks, hold off on ordering a plain old gin and tonic until you see the house cocktail list. The seven specialty drinks include the John's Water, a mix of Jose Cuervo tequila, triple sec, sour mix, a splash of Rose's Lime Juice and Sprite, and the Inner Harbor, made from Bacardi O, Blue Curacao, sour mix and Sprite.

The west side was hurting for another fun hangout, and like the Den in Charles Village, Bedrock Billiards is just what its neighborhood needed.

Bedrock Billiards is at 401 W. Baltimore St., one block from the Hippodrome. It's open 4 p.m.-2 a.m. daily. There is never a cover charge. Call 410-685-7665 or go to bedrockbaltimore.com.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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