Look inside the Lost City Diner

August 20, 2011|By Richard Gorelick | The Baltimore Sun

Let’s just say that hydroelectric dams haven’t taken as long to complete as the Lost City Diner, Joy Martin’s long-awaited project in the Charles North neighborhood.

There were rumors of activity on the corner of Charles and Lafayette in early July, and then, on Aug. 16, word got out: The Lost City Diner was open.

People had two questions: What took so long? And was it worth the wait?

The answer to the first question, partly, answers the second. Martin, who owns the Club Charles, was meticulous about the diner’s decor. A devotee of Art Deco and Art Nouveau, Martin had to have detail perfect in the Lost City, whose antique fixtures and fanciful retro-industrial elements gorgeously evoke the giddy atmosphere of a Buck Rogers serial from the 1930s.

“We researched things down to the last detail,” Martin said. What she didn’t find through salvaging, she had created.

The informal stable of artists who frequent the Club Charles contributed, too. Alix Tobey Southwick painted the loopy “time-tunnel” effect over the kitchen doors.

The fascination with period detail extends to the staff’s uniforms, which were assembled from surplus Eastern European military gear. A lucky break — the emblem on Czech army caps looks like it was designed for a diner with a sci-fi theme.

The opening menu includes burgers, a section of breakfast items, including a chicken-and-waffles dish, and some more substantial fare like Bouillabaisse and grilled pork chops. The big hit so far at the Lost City Diner is the hand-made fountain treats — specialty sundaes, milkshakes and malteds, both old classics like the Knickerbocker and the Tin Roof, and new-fangled creations like the Utopia and the Vector, made with soy ice cream. The hot chocolate and the butterscotch are homemade.

In the opening days at Lost City, fountain sales were outpacing beer sales at the Club Charles. “Who would have thought ice cream would outsell beer?” Martin said.

Lost City Diner is at 1730 N. Charles St. Call 410-547-9000. The diner is open seven days a week for dinner and has a BYOB policy.


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