We enjoyed our spring visit to the waterfront John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in part because at times it felt almost like a stroll in the park. We anticipated that the 66 acre estate was too large to explore in a single day so we had narrowed our selection to fit into the morning. Once we were there we liked it so much we spent the day.
The biggest surprise was AG, a bar and steakhouse that specialized in fine wines and whiskey, which would not normally be our fare, but thanks to the guidance of those serving us, we thoroughly enjoyed. We would return.
The new management had turned the one-time notorious property into a glamorous Hollywood star. We liked the hotel’s beautiful redesign, our 725 square foot Vista Double Suite, spectacular rooftop views, and outstanding (and safe) location.
The Jefferson was built by a Richmond importer, Lewis Ginter, who lost his first fortune during the Civil War, after serving as a major in the Confederate Army. He moved to New York, where he became rich again through banking, but lost most of his assets during a recession. At age 50, he returned to Richmond and made more millions in tobacco, sold the company, and entered real estate. He traveled the world and brought back art he planned to place in a new hotel.
We felt instantly welcome when we arrived at the Meranova Guest Inn, tired and hungry from a long drive. Within minutes we were settled in our rooms, one fronting a central garden and the other facing the town’s most popular street. While I declined Frank’s generous offer of a cocktail I immediately pounced on one of his homemade brownies. During our stay we found the owners Frank Baiamonte and David Roy to be efficient, punctual, knowledgeable about the area, and gracious hosts.
The name of the property meant Sea Star from the words mer (French for sea) and nova or bursting star. To honor it there was a starfish on the property logo. The location in the heart of Dunedin, steps away from Main Street, could not be beat. We appreciated the amount of labor and dedication the owners had poured into the property over the years. In David’s own words, “We have been able to do everything ourselves on the property except for income taxes and fix refrigerators.”
We liked that the restaurant butchered all its own meat and sourced all produce, mostly organic, locally. From the soup amouse bouche to dessert our meal was delicious and the attentive and friendly service a perfect match. Should we return to Dunedin The Black Pearl will be at the top of our list of fine dining restaurants.