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The Ambassador Dining Room, tucked without fanfare into a classic apartment building in Tuscany-Canterbury, has long been revered as one of Baltimore’s most romantic restaurants. Owner-brothers Keir and Binda Singh recently opened a sibling restaurant, Ananda, in the suburbs. Set apart from the grand nouveau townhomes of Maple Lawn, the stand-alone building resembles a castle, with decorative turrets, and 8,000 square feet inside—twice the size of the Ambassador.

Maple Lawn is a planned community in the farmlands of Howard County, close to I-95. The county’s percentage of residents of Indian descent is higher than that of Maryland overall, and the median household income in these parts is more than $100K per annum. Seems like the perfect spot for a chic Indian restaurant with plenty of elbow room for special events. Plus, there’s a parking lot.

Food. Ananda plays copycat to its sib, offering familiar Indian dishes. The kitchen is headed by Keir and Binda’s sister, Kinday Kaur, born in the northern Indian state of Punjab, a region known for its aromatic sauces—think chicken and lamb masala—and tandoori-grilled meats and kebabs, stuffed paratha bread and dal. There’s also a classic pan-fried Goan fish, served whole in a garlic curry.

Décor. The restaurant’s eight fireplaces create winter ambience. Slowly turning fans operated by pulleys overhead, rattan furniture and reclaimed wood walls create a Colonial vibe. Sumptuous textures abound, from velveteen tufted banquettes to fleur-de-lis wallpaper and silk Rajasthani pillows. The Maharaja Room can host up to 180 guests, and the Marigold Room is great for meetings. Even with its high-tech trappings, the room is stately, with leopard-print, highbacked chairs, palatial ceilings and stained-glass clerestory windows.

Service. On an early visit, we were happy to see familiar faces among the waitstaff. Dining room staff, dressed in black jackets and starched white shirts, are friendly while formal. Spot-on service is part of the Ambassador’s charm, and Ananda maintains the tradition.

Cocktails. The Polo Bar offers happy hour daily from 4 to 6 p.m. with $5 cocktails (a rum and fruit Malabar punch, gin & tonic, Spicy Mango with Sriracha vodka) and small plates (lamb kofta, a Kerala cake made with crabmeat, masala fries).

Final Verdict. Did we mention that Ananda means ‘bliss’ in Sanskrit? 

Ananda. 7421 Maple Lawn Blvd. 301-725-4800, anandarestaurant.net

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