Before my friends and I explored this year's Light City this past weekend, we started our evening with drinks and snacks at the brand new Sagamore Pendry bar in Fells Point.
I've been curious about this place for months, passing the ongoing construction on my training runs. For years it's been the Rec Pier, which honestly was not much more than a vacant hole for squatters in one of the city's prime waterfront spots.
When they started construction, I knew that it was all part of King of Baltimore Kevin Plank's empire, which has branched out from Under Armour and into whiskey and I guess race horses (?). #justrichwhiteboythings
I knew it was part of the Sagamore brand, but I don't think I ever knew that it was being built into a hotel. Rather, I imagined it was going to be a food hall a) because the long rectangular structure would be PERFECT for a food hall, and b) because if I was the King of Baltimore, I would obviously build a food hall.
Alas, I am a mere serf in Baltimore with no reason to stay in an upscale hotel, which is what the reincarnation of the pier is.
But I've been curious.
Now that it's open, when I run by, I catch glimpses of a dim, swanky interior. I've woven my way around people coming out of the Pendry who are dressed to the absolute nines at 5 p.m. on a Wednesday night, doused in perfumes and colognes so heavy I can't help but be slowed down by them as I huff and puff my way around the entrance. Who ARE these people? Do they realize that's not exactly what Baltimore is about? It's casual AF. Admittedly, I've never been one for "going out" clothes, even when I, you know, "went out." But I'm pretty sure the "going out" crowd considers a spandex tank top from Forever 21 appropriate for a night out in Baltimore -- a far cry from the Louboutins I now see teetering across the cobblestone of Fells Point.
So curiosity appropriately piqued, I suggested we grab a pre-Light City drink at the Pendry bar before walking over to the festival.
I admit the interior is stunning. The art is full of subtle Baltimore details while still remaining classy and making you feel like you're in a special place. The long, open-air courtyard will be ideal for drinks on a summer night. I wouldn't mind taking a dip in the pool at the end of the pier overlooking the Inner Harbor across to -- you guessed it -- the giant Under Armour complex sign.
But at the same time, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't people-watching and LOLing my ass off at the parade of Botox and body-con dresses. The drinks took an abominably long time (longer than our snacks), and our waitress apologized with a completely bizarre explanation -- that she told her manager, but her manager was chatting at the bar, so don't worry, it wasn't personal. Wut? Despite the wait, my drink WAS really good.
After drinks, we took a walk. From the courtyard, we could see into the rooms. They looked pretty standard to me. New and sleek, but standard nonetheless. Certainly not worth the nearly $500-per-night price tag to stay in Baltimore across the street from some mediocre bars.
Would I return to the bar? Maybe. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on timing and say they're still working out new opening kinks. Would I opt for the Pendry over the holes across the street? Definitely. But would it be my first choice? Ehhh.
Take a look around.