Doggone good food, brews at Pub Dog

On Nightlife

October 25, 2007|By Sam Sessa

In the past few years, a bunch of popular Baltimore bars have expanded or moved to the 'burbs.

Most of them (Looney's, MaGerk's, Ropewalk, etc.) ended up with sister locations in Bel Air. So it makes sense for the folks behind the Dog Pub in Federal Hill to spawn a Columbia branch called the Pub Dog Pizza and Drafthouse.

The Pub Dog opened a couple months ago, replacing a Hard Times Cafe, which apparently fell on, um, hard times. I'm not sure whether there are more plans for the pub's outer facade, but it needs more lights and a more prominently displayed sign. It's hard to locate the pub, even if you're looking for it. When you do find it, the place is so dark on the outside you might think it's closed.

The Pub Dog, like the Dog Pub, has no TVs. That's a plus for the city location, because it is surrounded by sports bars and meathead magnet joints with flat-screen TVs on every wall. No TVs means conversation comes first, which may be a drawback in the suburbs, where some bars depend on televised football and baseball games. But I think a bar that dishes tasty personal pizzas and pours smooth-tasting microbrews for cheap can do well, regardless of the location.

You can order a Miller Lite in the Pub Dog, but you'll get odd stares from the rest of the patrons. There is a list of about a dozen house brews, ranging from crisp and fruity to hoppy or heavy. Order a beer and you get two 10-ounce glass mugs full of suds for $4 -- a solid deal. How many other Columbia bars offer 20 ounces of microbrew for $4 all day? If you want shots instead, Grand Marnier is the house liquor.

We got there at 9 p.m. last Friday, and the place was about half full. It's only one floor, but still larger than its Federal Hill counterpart. Rows of booths line the left half of the place, and the bar area is on the right. The pub needs more tables and chairs lining the right wall, because right now it looks too open -- almost empty.

Our servers were just as friendly and more attentive in Columbia than they normally are in Baltimore. I think that's because there were more on duty in Columbia and fewer patrons. We had one main server and a couple of more sporadic ones who also dropped by over the course of the night and made sure we were doing all right.

There were a number of 50-something parents with their 20-something kids eating and drinking at Pub Dog when we arrived. They sifted out in the next hour and a half, as a younger crowd came in. By 11 p.m., the bar area was starting to fill up with the 20- and 30-year-old set.

I hope that the Pub Dog continues to build a large base of Columbia bargoers. Columbia needs more bars with character, conversation and good beer and pizza. For that, Pub Dog fits the bill.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

The Pub Dog is at 8865 Stanford Blvd., Suite 100, Columbia. Hours are 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily. Call 410-872-0364 or go to dogpub.net.

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