Walk into Nutty Pub in Hampden, and two things immediately come to mind:
1.) This place is much cleaner than you expected.
2.) The people in here have been drinking for hours. And it's not that late.
But once you sit down at the bar, Nutty has a way of keeping you there. Maybe it's the handful of friendly folks who go there on a regular basis. There never seem to be more than a dozen of them in the place, whether it's a Saturday or Wednesday night. You could strike up a conversation on a passing remark with someone and end up shooting a game or two of pool in the back of the bar.
Maybe it's the bar, which is made of thin planks of polished wood, sloped downward on either side so that it looks like a bowling alley lane. Ask for one of the few drafts, and the bartender will pour it into a tall, thin glass and plunk it down on the polished planks in front of you.
Or, if you're at one of the high-topped tables back by the pool table, the bartender will make the occasional trip over to check up on you. Sometimes when there are few people in a pub, the bartender gets lazy, and watches TV or chats on the phone instead of paying attention to the customers. I've never seen that happen at Nutty.
If none of the patrons are feeding the digital jukebox on the wall opposite the bar, and it stays quiet for too long, the bartender might walk over, put a dollar or two in and give the nearest person their pick of four or five songs.
And rarely do you see wider musical tastes. Garth Brooks might give way to Matchbox 20 or ELO. Then you could hear Otis Redding or The Beatles.
If you get tired of playing pool, you could switch to darts, which are free (as they should be in a bar like this).
For a neighborhood pub, Nutty looks clean and new, as though it's recently been redone. A large flat-screen TV hangs behind the bar, and a couple smaller ones are nearby.
Unlike other renovated pubs around the city, Nutty doesn't attract the post-college, urban professional hipster crowd. Those types usually flock to Rocket to Venus, the see-and-be-seen bar a couple blocks down Chestnut Avenue.
If I'm going to Rocket to Venus, I either use Nutty to prepare myself for Rocket or to collect myself after a night at Rocket. Nutty has saved me a couple times in that respect.
Is Nutty worth a drive to Hampden? Probably not. But if you're in the area and are looking for a laid-back hangout, drop by. I think you'd be surprised with the place.
Nutty Pub is at 3520 Chestnut Ave. Hours are 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Mondays-Fridays and noon-2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays.