A stable for the Hunt Valley business crowd


The Paddock

Where: Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn, 245 Shawan Road.

Hours: 11 a.m.- midnight Sundays and Mondays, 11 a.m.- 2 a.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays.

Menu: Burgers, sandwiches, crab cakes, soups and appetizers.

Credit cards: AE, D, DC, MC, V.

Call: 785-7000. You can't miss the '50s-themed nightclub Wurlitzer's at Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn, with its pink neon sign and pulsating music.

But there's a second nightspot in this hotel, and it's a horse of an entirely different color. While Wurlitzer's is noisy and nostalgia-fixated, the Paddock is a quiet pub. While Wurlitzer's swings until the wee hours, most of the business types at the Paddock wisely head to bed by midnight.

Those whose familiarity with horsepower doesn't go beyond the car engine may need reminding that a "paddock" is an enclosure where horses are saddled and paraded before a race. That image is fitting for a northern Baltimore County pub that's close to real horse country.

The Paddock, of course, actually serves as a stable for the Hunt rTC Valley business crowd. This is the place to settle back in a well-padded chair during happy hour and eavesdrop on the spicy chatter of McCormick executives.

The room itself has plenty of gentrified allusions to equine culture. For starters, there is the peaked wooden roof that seems like a Scandinavian streamlining of barn design. Then there is the wall tapestry depicting several riders off to the hunt. There also are some horse pictures to get you in the mood.

Further sporting interest is provided by the blackjack game table to one side of the room, where you can satisfy the gambling impulse without really (as in illegally) gambling. And at this time of year, there is a buffet spread during Monday night football games, which are telecast overhead.

For live entertainment, the Paddock offers a soft alternative to the jukebox jive of Wurlitzer's. There is a piano bar here Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., followed by Top-40 harmonizing by the husband and wife duet of T. J. and Ray.

Because the Paddock is right next to the hotel restaurant, it's common for people to have a drink at this pub and then head over to the restaurant for a formal meal. However, the Paddock also has a lunch and light fare menu of its own. Although there is enough variety among the salads, soups and sandwiches on the light fare menu, the Reuben sandwich proved a soggy disappointment.

Oh, well, looks as if I bet on the wrong item.

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