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Ananda at Maple Lawn

Updated: Monday, August 11 2014, 03:34 PM EDT
Last week, I was treated to a tasting menu at the brand-new Ananda, located in Fulton in the Maple Lawn area. Ananda is the sister restaurant of the beloved Ambassador Dining Room in the Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood, and the brainchild of co-owner brothers Keir and Binda Singh. The newly built space echos the Old World British Empire feel of the Baltimore original, but is a whole lot larger. It includes an entry lounge, a barroom, three formal dining rooms and a large, separate private events space. The largest of the dining rooms features glass-paneled garage-like doors that can be raised to open the space to the lush outdoors on three sides of the room, while fireplaces in two corners add further charm. This space mimics the popular indoor/outdoor dining room at the Ambassador, but at approximately twice the scale. The evening we were there, the combo of the handsome space and the openness to the beautiful summer evening, proved irresistible to the crowd of diners at the restaurant. The menu features all the classic Indian dishes that we love at the Ambassador, but also adds seasonal specials, many that feature local produce (the restaurant maintains a nearby garden plot to supply the kitchen). We started with petite crab cakes (made with local sweet silver queen kernels and toasted mustard seeds); lamb meatballs made with diced vidalia onions, red peppers, Himalayan salt, lemon and garlic; and an avocado chutney with jumbo shrimp. That was followed by an exceptional chilled summer squash and carrot soup (pronounced as "aggressively good" by one of my tablemates), and a fresh summer salad called Hindvana, which was a tower of locally grown watermelon with organic baby watercress, Breezy Willow Farm fresh feta, sweet onions, roasted pistachios and Ananda's signature lime-chili dressing. Our entree was fresh rockfish steam-cooked with tamarind and sesame, and served atop lemon, cilantro rice and grilled leeks. Dessert consisted of a scrumptious peach/strawberry crumble, served with cardamom ice cream. (And, knowing my personal preference for their Chicken Madras, a small bowl of that was personally delivered to me at the table-- these guys understand the small details.) My dining companions consisted of a number of experts on the local dining scene, including Dara Bunjon (Baltimore Dining Examiner), Amy Langrehr (CharmCityCook.com), Diane Macklin (DowntownDiane.net), Reagan Warfield (Mix 106.5's morning show), Julekha Dash (Bmore Media), and Kathy & Neal Patterson (MinxEats.com). A very nice dining experience all around.
(Shown above: Guests enjoy the warm summer evening in the large indoor/outdoor dining room.)Ananda at Maple Lawn


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