There are so many good things to say about Ananda Restaurant located between Baltimore and the D.C. suburbs off Route 29 in Fulton/Maple Lawn that it is hard to choose a starting point. The stand alone sandstone colored building located in close proximity to a strip mall is a bit hard to recognize because there is no sign, just their numerical address, 7421, on the pillar at the front entrance.
Ananda, which in numerous Indian languages, translates to bliss lays the groundwork for what you will feel during your visit(s). The brothers Singh, Binda and Keir, already successful restaurateurs with the Ambassador Restaurant in Baltimore built Ananda from the ground up in a year and a half time frame – fulfilling their vision for Indian fine dining.
Each area of Ananda tells its own story from the Polo Bar with tons of natural light to the more formal dining rooms with warm earth tones, wood, leather banquettes, and multiple fireplaces. The showstopper, the year-round terrace with its rattan and pillowed chairs, open vistas, fireplaces, ceiling fans – one feels transported back in time to the British Raj of India. I had visions that David Niven, circa 1940’s might enter any moment dressed in his polo whites to sip a Mumbai Mule while perusing the lawns. The terrace is the highlight of Ananda’s Royal Indian concept.
Ananda features regional Indian cuisines for lunch and dinner along with their seasonal special menu. Fascinating to me was the Asian influence from Tibet. Binda explained, “We have always enjoyed Himali cuisine from our summer vacations and pilgrimage with our grandfather. From momos (dumplings) to thupka (Tibetan noodle soup), it is heavily influenced by Tibetan communities in the foothills of the Himalayas. It’s known for its liberal use of sesame and soy.”
The Singhs maintain their own 11 acre garden close by in old Maple Lawn where they grow seasonal fruits and vegetables. Their successful growing endeavors are apparent in the many dishes served to us at a recent media dinner. Their special menu best reflected all that is fresh this late summer season with the Kerala Cake with crab and Silver Queen corn, the swoon-worthy chilled Summer Squash and Carrot Soup with spiced pear chutney, Hindvana with watermelon, local goat cheese and Ananda’s lime chili dressing, or the Peach Strawberry Crumble with cardamom ice cream. We also relished and cleaned our plates of a tandoori-styled jumbo shrimp served with lip-smacking chutney of mint, mango and avocado. The Market Fish was halibut steamed in tamarind and sesame to flaky perfection.
Stop in for “Bliss Hour” which is actually 2 hours from 4 pm to 6 pm for a wide array of wines, beers, small plates and signature cocktails.
Go now, while the weather is ideal for dining on the terrace or what southerners might call the veranda – watch the sunset, enjoy the lush surroundings and the royal hospitality of the Singh brothers.