The early review: Tavern 101

With a few weeks of summer vacation left and the Orioles actually winning for a change, it's a great time to be a tourist in Baltimore.

For this week's nightlife column, I'm putting together a roundup of two or three downtown hotel bars (no, the B&O Brasserie is not included, because we write about that place way too much).

Instead, I'm writing about Tavern 101, the newish bar in the newish Fairfield Inn & Suites, at the corner of President and Lombard streets. You've probably driven past this place -- it has the SmartCar parked out front. The whole complex was an unused lot just a year or two ago.

Tavern 101 surprised me -- in a good way. Since it's new and it's a hotel bar, I expected Tavern 101 to be sterile and nondescript. Far from it ...

Whoever thought up Tavern 101 did their homework: It has (new!) pressed tin ceilings and, in cubbies in the bar back, for DeGroen's chalices. DeGroen's was the late, great brewpub which, before it closed four or five years ago, used to sit a few doors down from the hotel. Touche, Tavern 101.

Most of the draft beers were $2 last night as part of the bar's happy hour, which runs 3:30 p.m.-7 p.m. I had a $3 Victory Prima, and my co-pilot, jmgiordano, had a $3 Clipper City Gold Ale.

The rest of Tavern 101's decor gave the space a homey Baltimore feel: banks of big windows, dark wood trimmings and patches of exposed brick. It even has two ceiling fans connected by a conveyor belt.

Tavern 101 ranks high on my list, as far as Baltimore hotel bars go. You guys have any of your own favorite hotel bars?

(Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.)

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