Sports bar The Nest is a fine place to roost, even on nongame days


November 27, 2008|By SAM SESSA | SAM SESSA,

If you own a downtown sports bar, how do you bring in customers on nongame days?

That's the eternal question for most of the pubs within walking distance of Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. It's almost impossible to survive on home games alone - especially when the Orioles haven't had a winning season in more than a decade. Many have tried. Some (Pickles Pub, Slider's, Camden Pub) have succeeded. Others (Max's at Camden Yards) have failed.

The latest to give it a go is The Nest, a new incarnation of the Downtown Sports Exchange. Whew. Got all that? The gist is, this place has traded hands a couple of times in the past few years. The Nest opened in mid-August. My fiancee, Amie, and I dropped by last Thursday night to gauge its popularity on an off-game night and see how many changes the new owners had made.

The Nest is largely like its predecessor, but does have a few new bells and whistles. First thing you notice from the street is the new coat of blue paint with bright yellow trim.

The Nest doesn't look especially large (or twiggy) from the outside, but it definitely makes the most of the space it has. It's three stories, all told, including a martini floor and a rooftop deck. Both of those are new additions.

There were a couple of dozen people in The Nest when we arrived about 9:30 p.m. Most of them were watching the Pittsburgh Steelers battle the Cincinnati Bengals on the bar's array of flat-screen TVs.

The bar, which sits along the right side, has a light wood top, and the downstairs walls have wood paneling that goes about waist high. A vintage-looking red globe sign reading Yuengs and Wings hangs on the wall behind the bar, slowly rotating. There's a dining area to the left, and more tables and chairs by the bar. The Nest is newer and cleaner than the other nearby sports bars, and has a sharper feel. But it's still a sports bar at heart.

I ordered a Samuel Adams Octoberfest, which I was surprised to see on tap - it's almost out of season at this point. The Nest has more than a dozen beers on tap, which isn't bad. The Octoberfest cost $5 and, surprisingly, stayed cold until the last sip.

We asked the bartender for a menu, but we were a few minutes too late. The kitchen had just closed, he told us. Oh, bother.

After I finished my beer, we decided to snoop around some. We walked up the metal stairs to the second floor, where a few guys were shooting pool and watching the game. There's a bar on the second floor, too, but no one was manning it that night.

The new martini lounge is on the third floor. It wasn't open when we were there, but I sneaked up and sniffed around anyway. There are a few leather couches, as well as some small tables that glowed blue in the dark. Cool stuff - definitely not what you'd expect from a sports bar. They have Nintendo Wii tournaments and open-mic nights on the third floor, both of which are good ideas.

I'd like to go back sometime and try one of their wildly named signature drinks, maybe the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster (from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) or En Flagrante. If I ever made a list of the city's most creatively titled drinks, those would probably be on it.

When we finished snooping around, we saw a waitress passing out menus to a table full of dudes on the first floor.

Now wait a minute. The bartender told us the kitchen was closed 20 minutes earlier. So what was this waitress doing? Had we been lied to? We were about to leave at that point and didn't care to ask. No sense opening a can of worms on your way out.

Either way, I liked The Nest. It stays true to its sports bar roots but also branches out a bit. I hope it doesn't trade hands again any time soon.

Patrick's scales back hours

Patrick's of Pratt Street (934 W. Pratt St.), the country's oldest Irish pub, will only be open one day a week for the next couple of months, according to owner Patrick Rowley.

The reason? Rowley and his wife, Anne, opened a much larger sister location in Frederick on Oct. 15, and need to spend time getting it up and running.

"We had to move away from Baltimore and catch our breath," Rowley said. "We've got so much to do up here, we just don't have the time to operate the Baltimore location on a full-time basis until we're really settled in Frederick."

Until then, Patrick's of Pratt Street will only be open Sundays at 2 p.m. Don't worry, Rowley said he doesn't plan on selling the place.

"It's only been in my family for 161 years," he said.

The new Patrick's Irish Pub and Restaurant in Frederick is open at 11 a.m. seven days a week at 16-18 E. Patrick St. It seats almost 200. Call 301-668-0668.

Where's a bar that ...

Do you have a question about where to go out? Maybe you're looking for a certain type of bar with a certain type of feel. Well, I'd be glad to help.

E-mail your questions to I'll send you an e-mail back with my suggestions.

if you go

The Nest is at 200 W. Pratt St. It opens at 11 a.m. daily. Call 410-528-1119 or go to

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