Walk along The Avenue in Hampden and 13.5%, the city's newest wine bar, jumps right out at you. There's nothing else quite like it in Hampden. In fact, it feels almost out of place with the rest of the neighborhood - in a good way.
Inside, 13.5% is comfortably stylish and thankfully unpretentious. Call it '60s chic. I liked the hardwood floors, stone walls and low-hanging decorative metal lamps.
Though 13.5% has been open only since July 10, it already has a broad appeal, based on the scene there Friday night. How often do you see hipsters, art students, young professionals and well-to-do 40- and 50-somethings in the same place at the same time?
At 8 p.m., there was a wait for tables and the bar was almost full. The wine list was pretty long: 15 whites by the glass, four sparkling whites, two roses, 16 glass reds and one "sweet red." Glasses were listed by price, not name, and ranged from $5 to $22. A $5 glass of wine at a trendy new wine bar? Imagine that.
If you'd rather order a bottle of wine, you can pick one from the huge rack on one of 13.5%'s walls. The bottles are listed with an $8 corkage fee, but you can take them home if you want to - you just subtract $8 from the price tag.
The beer list at 13.5% is short but impressive: Clipper City Gold ($4.50), Stone IPA ($6), Clay Pipe Hop-Ocalypse IPA ($7), Mama's Little Yella Pils ($8) and Saison Dupont ($10). The beer list is rounded out by 22 bottled beers. It's good to know 13.5% has something for suds lovers too.
My wife, Amie, and I didn't come to 13.5% to drink beer, though. Or eat food, for that matter. She ordered a smooth Bodegas Arrocal ($11), and I got a spicier Nomade Malbec ($10). We were surprised at the pleasant, professional bartender. Hampden isn't exactly known for its stellar service, which made our trip to 13.5% all the more enjoyable.
I'm leery of making predictions in such a down economy, but based on our night there, I'd say that in time, 13.5% could become a neighborhood staple. It's certainly off to a promising start.
If you go
13.5% is at 1117 W. 36th St. It opens at 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and 11 a.m. Sundays. Closed Mondays. Call 410-889-1064 or go to 13.5winebar.com.