It's a sad coincidence that this award comes on the heels of the death of Grand Cru's owner, Nelson Carey, and it is certain our recognition of the qualities of this establishment would not exist without the man behind it. Until we started popping in, at first on Best Of and Coldest Beer in Baltimore "research" duty, we always thought Grand Cru was a snooty wine bar. But after that, we stopped in pretty much any time we hit Belvedere Square, because sitting at the bar watching customers come and go, with unforced recognition from the staff and greetings from fellow patrons, we realized, sure, the drinks and eats here are top notch, but this is without question one of the great neighborhood bars of Baltimore: comfortable, friendly, and laid-back. "The place seemed to be just what the neighborhood needed: a neighborhood bar," Charlie Vascellaro, a Grand Cru bartender and City Paper contributor, wrote in his tribute to Carey in City Paper. "The same familiar faces hold down our barstools day after day after day, we sometimes make analogies to the Bill Murray movie 'Groundhog Day,' as many days feel the same as ones that have passed before. But I give Nelson credit for creating this comfortable and familiar environment."