`Hero' game saves the night at relocated Sly Fox

On Nightlife

December 20, 2007|By Sam Sessa

Some bars deserve a second chance.

The first time I went to the Sly Fox Pub's new home on Fort Avenue, the place was dead. And this was 10 p.m. on a Friday. There were only a dozen people hanging out downstairs in the bar, and the second floor was closed.

The scene wasn't much different last Friday. About 12:45 a.m., the crowd was about 20 strong. Though the upstairs wasn't chained off like last time, the bartender stopped us from going upstairs. The upstairs is closed, she yelled at us.

So, we reluctantly ordered a round of drinks downstairs and occupied some seats at the bar.

I love going to brand-new or recently renovated bars, because the tap lines are always clean. A lot of Baltimore bars don't clean their taps as regularly as they should, and you can taste the difference.

The Sly Fox is not a cheap place to drink, though. Draft beers, though served in large glasses, are $5 each. One of the weekly specials is $2.50 domestic bottles, which would be the regular price at some city bars.

However, owner Brian Fox was forward-thinking in terms of atmosphere - the pub was one of the first in Federal Hill to go smoke-free. And the pub is one of the city's only Redskins and Virginia Tech bars.

But I'm a Ravens fan, and the bar was only a quarter full, so we planned to finish our round and head out. Before we could, the bartender asked us if we liked the video game Guitar Hero. Our ears immediately perked up.

We have Guitar Hero upstairs, the bartender said. Want to play? It's free.

What kind of question is that?

So we followed her up a set of stairs at the back of the bar to a back lounge on the second level. Two small couches faced each other under a large flat-screen TV. The bartender turned on the TV and set up the game for us. From that point on, the night rocked (heh).

We stayed up there until just before last call, riffing away to some classic rock tunes. Fletcher's Bar has Guitar Hero once a week, but I don't know of any city pubs with it hooked up permanently.

The Sly Fox began as a successful Annapolis pub that expanded to Federal Hill in May 2005. But its first location a few blocks west on Fort Avenue always felt a little too small. The new space looks twice as big. I hear it gets packed on game nights. That's good, because it was close to empty the two nights we were there. But once word gets out about Guitar Hero, that might change.

The Sly Fox Pub is at 554 E. Fort Ave. Call 410-637-3699 or go to slyfoxpub.com.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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