Pratt Street Ale House
Address: 206 W Pratt St
Rating: ★ ★ ★
Cost: $ $
Even though Pratt Street Ale House has been around seemingly forever, I work downtown, and I pass the bar on my way to Orioles games, my first time at this bar/restaurant was just recently. The bar area was nicely spaced out. I definitely didn't feel crammed in with other patrons, but that might have been a function of the number of people there (or lack thereof). The look and feel was exactly as I expected: exposed brick, wood everywhere. Pretty much what you think a taphouse bar would look like. The bartenders were friendly and knew many of the regulars by name. Pratt Street Ale House is a neighborhood establishment located in the heart of downtown.
There were a handful of small TVs showing the MLB playoffs that I refuse to believe are happening because the O's can totally still make it you guys. Between the lack of meaningful Baltimore baseball and the Ravens not playing until Sunday, the bar was pretty empty. The bartenders acknowledged the dearth of people and said, "it's just a Friday night. Nothing's going on." When did a Friday night become "just Friday night?"
I love my outdoor seating and one of the nicest things about Pratt Street Ale House is their patio. Really, it's a roped off area of the sidewalk, but takes full advantage of the activity and life in downtown abaltimore. This patio is always packed before Orioles games, and rightfully so. On a quieter night, I should have taken advantage of the weather and the available seats to find a spot outdoors. When I left, the patio was noticeably busier than the indoor bar.
I ordered an amber ale by Oliver a Breweries and the southwest chicken quesadilla. Pratt Street Ale House brews on site as Oliver Breweries, which I didn't know until after I had ordered. I'm glad I got one of the house beers, because I try to order locally-brewed products when I can. I like knowing that there was a short distance between the vessel a beer was brewed in and my glass on the bar; it's really the only farm-to-table initiative I've adopted 100%. The amber had a little more bite than I'm used to. Not too sweet and not too thick, it was a good drink to have with dinner. Because it was a little more bitter than I'm used to with other ambers, I would recommend it to those that like IPAs and want something darker for the winter and those that like ambers and want to try something a little different. It priced equivalent to most other draught beers downtown, but a little more than I expected since it was a house offering.
The chicken quesadilla was good, but not something I thought might be unique to Pratt Street Ale House. It was just spicy enough to have a kick, which was a welcome surprise. It wasn't my favorite, and my friend seemed to like his Reuben sandwich. It's definitely possible I ordered something outside of the Ale House's wheelhouse, because I didn't feel like I was having anything special. I probably could have gotten the same quesadilla in lots of other places, maybe even for less than it cost here.
Sports at the Ale House? Definitely. It doesn't have as many TVs as Smaltimore, but makes up for it in character, crowd, and location. Like I said, I haven't been there for an Orioles game, but I've seen it packed enough times to know that there's a solid hometown crowd there. It's far enough from Pickles Row to be a little less party and a little more relaxed. Ravens games might be rowdier. It's far enough from the stadiums for a relaxed, possibly outdoor bar tailgate, but it only takes a short walk to get to the games.
Pratt Street Ale House might not be somewhere I would pick as a destination, but it's a very solid backup that I'd never be disappointed with, and that's on off days. On game days, it's probably one of the better spots that doesn't turn into a blob like Pickles Row.