John Cullen with Marty Shayt
The Grandview Penthouse opened in September of 2011 taking over the space left by the unexpected closing of the Dizz Grandview. Perched on the top floor of a 15-story seniors apartment building in Hampden, the floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining room provide an incredible unobstructed 180+ degree view of Baltimore. At night, the sea of city lights can be magical. During the day, looking out over the city and spotting landmarks that can be miles away is compelling!
Salt, "a New American Tavern," occupies a renovated townhouse barely two blocks from the Pagoda in Patterson Park. The entrance (actually on Collington Avenue) separates a long bar with a few tables from a small dining room with about 10 tables. Overhead, clusters of contemporary large lighting fixtures that glow an otherworldly green stand out from tall ceilings against exposed brick walls and polished wood floors.
After another great year of dining out in and around Baltimore, and sharing their experiences with us, reviewers John and Marty compiled their 2011 Golden Eleven Awards. These awards highlight some of their most notable experiences of 2011.
Visiting Meet 27 for the first time had us trying to make sense of a brightly lit "Sweet Sin Bakery" sign curiously perched hanging over the main entrance to the restaurant on the corner of Howard and 27th (turns out the bakery is next door and is operated by the wife of one of Meet 27's owners). Inside the entrance, a handsome long bar lit by chandeliers stood empty (Meet 27 is BYOB as a result of a year-plus long effort from some neighbors to block a liquor license).
Perched on top of a parking garage just a block off the circle in the middle of Towson on Joppa Road, the entrance to Bahama Breeze Island Grille off-ramp into Towsontown Center is easy to miss. Part of a chain with a couple dozen locations and owned by the large Darden restaurant group (parent of Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Longhorn Steakhouse), Bahama Breeze features a Caribbean island theme. Inside, you’ll find three colorful, large dining rooms plus a long oval bar surrounded by booths, and a large covered patio that can be delightful (when the weather cooperates!). Along with our friends Tom and Paul, we were seated in a spacious booth with a view of the bar and the open kitchen.
Contrary to popular belief, Alewife's handsome building never was a bank! It was built in 1847 for the Baltimore Equitable Society (founded in 1794 to provide fire insurance and put out house fires for its members). The Society moved out in 2005 to bigger offices on Pratt Street (between then and when Alewife opened, two other restaurants have opened and closed at this location). Alewife retains much of the original architectural detail (including a vault where the Society's insurance contracts were stored!). The striking interior has 20+ foot tall ceilings, large windows with views of the nearby Hippodrome Theater, handsome woodwork, and an attractive bar.
Lunch at Donna’s Café at Cross Keys has been enjoyable for lunch in the past, and that motivated us to try it for dinner. It has a contemporary feel with 20+ tables under timbered cathedral ceilings and long walls of windows facing the patio (which is pleasant for outside dining when weather allows). While casual at lunchtime, dinnertime is more formal with white linens, flowers on the tables, and overhead lighting from rows of white globes and strings of lights along the windows.
Gino Troia, owner of Café Troia in Towson, created Emporio Grano out of two Hampden row houses in 2010. (The original, tiny “Grano Pasta Bar” remains in business a few blocks west.) Even though the chef was formerly the head chef at the Italian embassy, Emporio Grano feels casual and intimate. There is a lounge and dining room on the main floor and two more dining rooms upstairs. The décor is “Italian farmhouse” with walls painted warm yellow and tables unadorned with fancy linens.