Monday, September 15, 2014

Ananda Breaks Into The County's Best Restaurants, Gets Raved By The Sun's Gorelick

The shrimp dish jinga kararii at Ananda
I tamped down my excitement when I first wrote about Ananda.

The Fulton restaurant is the closest food to my house, serving a cuisine that I love.  And I'm just a hobby blogger, which makes me reticent to act like I know exceptional food after a meal or two.

But the professionals love Ananda, so I'm letting myself wax poetic.  It's a new restaurant, but I think it already matches the best restaurants in Howard County.

We had another amazing dinner last night.  Great cocktails.  Spectacularly flavorful shrimp, chicken and dessert.  The class of white tablecloths and subtle waiters, paired with the friendliness of a veranda full of families and kids.  All as the cool evening rolled in through open walls.

It's a magical combination, and it's getting notice.  Todd Kliman of the Washingtonian mentioned Ananda on-line a few weeks ago -- distilling the observation that the kitchen fuses Indian cuisine with a local seasonal vibe of a city bistro.  Then Kathy Patterson of Minx Eats enjoyed both the drinks and food.  Then yesterday Richard Gorelick gave Ananda four stars in the Sun:
Ananda strives to evoke something of the same nostalgic feeling, and it succeeds. The atmosphere is sophisticated but not stuffy. . . The food — in particular, the items listed as house specials — is elegant, too.
Boom.  Now I can say that I love the food without feeling like I'm infected with amateur-writer puppy love.  We have eaten three meals at Ananda, each better than the last.  This time, I ate the shrimp dish jingha karari and used rice and bread  to lap up every drop of the sauce rich with ginger and garlic.  Mrs. HowChow ate a chicken kabob that was juicy white meat chunks, cooked perfectly and then served with an herb sauce.  We finished with a special peach crumble that rivaled our favorite seasonal desserts at Woodberry Kitchen.

Read the professional reviews.  They all capture the place -- and Gorelick goes respectful when he describes the Maple Lawn development.  I'm amazed that Ananda's kitchen is serving recognizable -- even traditional -- Indian food in ways that seem unique.  It's a bit in the food itself.  A bit in their offering plated entrees.  My shrimp came with a choice of lentils or spinach as a side dish.  A bit in the local and seasonal specials like the watermelon salad that we ate on an early visit and that Gorelick raved about.

We're not the only ones raving.  The table next to us last night ordered three watermelon salads for three diners.  It's so good that they didn't share.  We have neighbors who have gone with their toddler every Sunday night since Ananda opened.  They love the food, and they're making a family tradition.

As I wrote in my "first thoughts' post, Ananda has an atmosphere that welcomes toddlers in t-shirts and women in date-night dresses.  You should try dinner on the veranda on a fall evening.  But I can see that Ananda will covert into a cozy, warm winter spot once they bring down those glass walls and turn up the fireplaces.  The bar and the interior dining rooms will give you all kinds of options.  Gorelick's review got a laugh in our house because he called out Ananda's three televisions.  It's a discordant sight here and in other really good restaurants.  You'll just need to look the other way.

7421 Maple Lawn Blvd
Fulton, MD 20759
 (301) 725-4800

NEAR:  Ananda is in the Maple Lawn development just south of Columbia.   It's on Maple Lawn Boulevard, which connects Rte 216 and Johns Hopkins Road just west of Rte 29.  Ananda is a stand-alone building.  As of September, it had no sign.  It is across the parking lot from a Suntrust bank.

Ananda on Urbanspoon


Dara Bunjon said...

You were on the money...lucky to have near you. I have a slideshow with my review

The Unmanly Chef said...

Definitely going to have to try this place now.

Anonymous said...

Anyone able to share a menu? It's not on their website.

Junior Barnes said...

Menus at (Available from the top of the home page.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree. We've eaten at Ananda on three occasions and have loved everything about it each time. It's a wonderful place and Binda and his staff are top notch.

fultie said...

This place is nice. I enjoy Indian cuisine and anticipate returning here regularly to explore the menu. Dining in the spacious veranda on a beautiful day like today was a great experience-flavorful dishes, attentive waitstaff, tasteful decor, fresh air, mild breeze. The Bliss Hour between 4 and 6 (drinks and small plates) is intriguing, will stop by for that soon.

Barbi said...

I can't even believe I am going to write a bad review of Ananda. I had such high hopes, between all the great reviews here on HowChow as well as lots of friends and neighbors telling us how great it was.

My husband and I went on August 31st the night of the heavy rain storm. When we arrived, we were impressed with the decor and were seated right away on the much talked about patio. When we walked out we were hit with a wall of humidity. The garage doors were all down and it was like a sauna. We asked to be seated inside and were told that they weren't seating inside that evening...and the bar was full. They led us to a table by the windows and tried to sit us at a table with wet chairs. We moved a few tables down from that and things were fine, besides the sweat dripping down my torso. After ordering a bottle of wine I couldn't take the heat anymore...we asked the server if there was room at the bar inside. She said no, quickly the owner/manager came over and opened the large garage door in front of us. It allowed for a minimal humid breeze to come in so we thought we would be ok. Moments later my husband started getting rained on by the drips from the door now being overhead. This all happened while the server was with us. We moved for the 3rd time to a table by the wall.

By this time we had ordered appetizers...the eggplant that everyone raves about as well as the crab. I was still dripping in sweat. I told my husband I was going to use the restroom just to cool off. When I came out of the restroom, I took a moment to stand inside and the hostess came over to see if I needed anything. I told her that I was just trying to cool down a bit, she offered the bar to us, as it was now empty and I took her up on it. While walking back to the table to get my husband, she explained that just "everyone really wanted to sit on the patio tonight"...I reminded her that we actually asked to sit inside....3 times.

We headed to the bar....and sat, and sat, and sat...waiting for someone to clear the bar of glass wear, water spill, food, etc. No one did. My husband and I started cleaning it up ourselves. We should have just left, but I really wanted to see if the food made up for the poor service. It didn't. When our appetizers came we were asked if we needed anything else...I asked for forks, napkins, etc. I was annoyed that I even had to ask.

Nothing was amazing...nothing was worth the major $ we spent. I would much rather end up at our other indian restaurants for much better food at better prices.

The interesting the night went on they started turning people away...telling them it was a 1 hour+ wait...the restaurant wasn't filled.

Maybe they were having kitchen issues...I don't know, but we can honestly say it was the WORST night out EVER for us. They knew we were upset, but did nothing to make the evening better.

The icing on the cake for me...a whole night of vomiting and diarrhea. Yep....something I ate did not agree with me, and we can't blame it on the spices or taste...I eat Indian food all the time.

That being said, we will not return and a warning to those going, if they give you a song and dance about a long wait....walk around the restaurant, I am sure you will find empty tables. said...

I think I will give them a try. Thanks for the recommendation.

Biketraveller22 said...

Just went. Love the food - hate the ambiance and management. Lovely dining room, great waitstaff, and fabulous food. However, a five person young male Indian / middle eastern group was seated right next to us (less than three feet away). My 16!year old daughter and me were then treated to loud conversation with the f-word and other expletives plus their (low) opinions of women. It was horrifying.

I went to the lobby and asked for the manager and explained. He was apologetic, but nothing changed. We were afraid to say something directly to these men. I would have at least expected a comped drink.

My sense was the " brown" patrons were favored and this language and women bashing is part of the culture so we were mot welcome,.

I would never willingly give this establishment my $ or recommend others do, Yes, you may have a good meal, but you are supporting a culture and business that believes this is how young men should behave - profane and abusive of women.