The city's most under-utilized bar(s)
When I think about Baltimore bars with the most under-realized potential, two come to mind right off the bat: The Owl Bar and the 13th Floor (pictured).
Both these bars are located in the grand old Belvedere Hotel -- a swanky building with a history of entertaining high-rollers in decades past.
Heck, when you walk through the big glass revolving door into the lobby and see the photos of all those old celebrities who used to frequent the Owl Bar when they were in town, you can't help but be impressed.
Walk back through the Owl Bar's corridor entrance way and you think, "Oh, man, this is going to be awesomely plush and old school."
Then you actually walk into the Owl Bar and think, "Oh, man, what a letdown." ...
The Owl Bar looks like just another bar/restaurant with the usual assortment of casually dressed neighborhood regulars. The bar is poorly stocked and poorly run and the drinks are pricey. Instead of giving you the list of drinks they have, the bartenders give you the list of the drinks they're out of.
For years, Amie wanted to go to the Owl Bar. When she finally did, she never wanted to go back. Can't say I blame her.
The 13th Floor is even worse. Think of the idea -- you step into an elevator and take it up to floor 13 -- the top of one of the tallest buildings around. The 13th Floor has some of the best sight lines in the city. This should be a bar you want to take your out-of-town friends to.
Instead, it's just an OK lounge with a scattered array of live music. Granted, I'm all about having more places for local musicians to play. But it's hard for a lounge to build up a following when one night it's hosting a jazz band and the next night it's a hip-hop act.
Someone needs to take over the 13th Floor, rip up that ratty old carpet, take down the tacky rope lights and replace the rickety wood performance platform with a state-of-the-art stage and sound system. Last I checked, they don't even serve food up there! Come on!
The 13th Floor needs a bigger drink list with more reasonable prices and bartenders who don't take their sweet time making them. It doesn't even have a proper Web site! Come on!
The 13th Floor should be Baltimore's best lounge. I wish someone would make it so.
(Photos by Karl Merton Ferron/Sun photographer)