After a 6-month renovation (and more than 14 months of planning), The 13th Floor is back!
And doesn't it look beautiful:
(c/o Guest Blogger Laura Rodini)
Photos by Merkle Photography
The Belvedere's top floor was once used as a storage space for wealthy Turn-of-the-Century travelers; they filled it with their trunks and luggage.
In the 1970s , after Victor Frenkil purchased the old hotel, the 13th floor was turned into a lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows. They called it the Skyline Café.
And... this (at right) is how it looked, more or less, for the next 20 years. A facelift came about in 1992, but still...
The 13th Floor felt trapped in a distant, disco era.
Luckily, in 2009, Sondra Goad and Bob Persaud of The Belvedere Restaurant Group took ownership of both The Owl Bar and The 13th Floor. Their goal was to bring every facet of The Belvedere back to its original status as a high-end destination.
I've written to you before about the glorious restoration of the wise, old Owl Bar. Now, I'm happy to report that The 13th Floor has undergone a beautiful transformation of its own.
"Our mission," said Sondra, "was to create a destination for guests to enjoy the extraordinary views overlooking Baltimore, and provide an experience that is reminiscent of the sophistication of The Belvedere's early history, with a contemporary twist."
They hired Joley King Design studio - a Hampden-based firm - to redesign the interior. And their expertise shows:
The space was completely reimagined - the bar no longer sits in the middle of the room. It's tucked into a corner, and the white counter positively sparkles.
The old ceiling tiles were uncovered, adding a few, much-needed feet of headspace.
And the beams were exposed - a gorgeous discovery. This wrought-iron alignment (at left) is very different from the modern I-beams used in today's construction projects.
That means that The Belvedere really is Baltimore's Jazz-Age treasure.
So it's fitting that, on the night of the opening soiree (I was lucky enough to get an invite), a revivalist jazz group called Carte Blanche played on stage.
And it sure was nice watching the sun set over Mt. Vernon from those magnificent floor-to-ceiling windows. I enjoyed a cocktail called Champagne 13, which was made with Domaine Chandon, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, and a purée of fresh berries.
I got to taste a few samples from their new small bites menu - pecan-crusted brie on one go-round and chicken liver pate on another. I felt like F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The new, stained-glass accents make the space 'pop.' Joley told me that the roundel motif behind the bar was modeled after the windows in The Owl Bar.
Here they are again (at right), in the ladies' room.
But you have to see it for yourself to believe it. The Belvedere now proudly boasts valet parking - so you can visit the new 13th Floor Wednesday through Sunday, and indulge in your Flapper fantasies. (It's easy to do; the staff makes you feel like a million bucks.)
The new 13th Floor is open Wednesday-Saturday from 4 pm and Sunday from noon. Located inside The Belvedere. Reservations are recommended; call 410-347-0880 or visit their website: http://www.13floorbelvedere.com. 1 East Chase Street.
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