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January 15, 2010

The review: Milan

milan baltimoreMilan, Little Italy's new high-end restaurant and lounge, has a certain vibe that's hard to put a finger on.

I was there for almost an hour last night before I realized: The body-length arched windows, sparkling chandeliers and plush white leather furniture give Milan the feel of a McMansion in the suburbs of Miami -- like the house of someone who had a boatload of money and couldn't help but show it off. It's very fancy.

Where Red Maple, with its exposed brick and fire pits is dark and exotic, Milan is bright and so clean it almost seems sterile. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily.

There are plenty of people who love lounges like Milan. (I overheard someone who appeared to be one of the owners talking about how Milan has a Miami/Washington feel.)

But after years of watching clubs like Milan open then close a year or two later, I can't help but worry it won't take hold here. Red Maple is small by comparison, which is one of the reasons it's lasted so long. ...

Though Milan is smartly divided into smaller spaces (the downstairs bar and lounge, enclosed patio, multi-level wraparound deck, upstairs bar and dining area, to name a few), all in all, it's a huge building, with, presumably, a large overhead.

Around 9:45 p.m. yesterday, the downstairs bar and lounge was about half full, which is a good sign, considering Milan's grand opening isn't even until tonight.

When I walked in, the hostess politely asked me to remove my hat. I've never been asked to do that before, but didn't mind. It was a nice touch.

milan baltimoreI sat at the bar in a high-backed white leather chair, next to a few well-dressed businessmen, and studied the space. Milan's color scheme is full of bright whites, light gray tiles and deep reds. A few white lamps shaped like giant cream puffs hung above the bar. I wanted to take a bite out of them.

The nearby lounge has a gas fireplace; a gas fire also flickered in a free-standing decorative box by the hostess stand. House music played at the perfect level overhead, and small, marble-topped tables stood near the bar.

It took a few minutes for one of the several bartenders to notice me, but once they did, the service was kind and quick.

Most of the martinis and cocktails on the drink list hovered around $10, and were made with top-shelf liquors. I was pleasantly surprised to see a section of classic beverages such as the Sidecar, Tom Collins, Gimlet and Manhattan.

I ordered a Gin Plush ($9), a mixture of Tanqueray, guava nectar, pineapple and orange juice with a splash of club soda, served in a wide, round rocks glass. The citrus notes from the juices took the edge off the gin without overpowering it.

I doubt if Little Italy has ever seen anything quite like Milan before. It's clear the owners have invested an incredible amount of time and money in Milan. Since there are so few places like this in Baltimore, it's certainly worth exploring.

As someone who has covered nightlife here for almost five years, I have my reservations about Milan, though. I can see it doing well for the next several months. I just wonder what will happen when the shine wears off.

(Baltimore Sun photos by Algerina Perna)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:46 AM | | Comments (29)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Comments

"Where food meets fashion" ??

to me, that means I will dribble sauce on my sweater......

So what's the Euro 411?

Regretfully your're right on the money. I see this place lasting through the summer but like all upscale bars in baltimore it's destined to fall to the wayside. Since parking in Little Italy is quite cumbersome, is valet available and for how much?

Actually a cheap ($3 at night) garage is right next door. I wonder if they will valet my bike?

Wow! While i personally prefer the dark, exoticky 9its my own vocab..) feel of Red Maple, you can't help but see this place makes a stunning statement..
The cocktail prices are not out of line with another comparable venue either..
Thanks for this review, and, i do agree, it is worth exploring..
Please post your comments if you are going to the Opening tonight !

I am selecting the perfect ascot right now. Gal-pal Jennifer and I will be making a grand entrance at the Grand Opening 2nite. Ciao, babies.

Here's my take on Milan http://meetiquell.com/?p=878

I give the place 6 months which is a shame since it is obvious they have dumped a ton of money into the rennovation. I went last weekend and was less than pleased with the experience. Food was cold, took forever, and I've had better service at Chic Filet. This place might click with the crowd that is more concerned with image than anything else, but I doubt thats enough to support the place.

Milan hasn't even been open for a month yet, so cut them some slack! Most restaurants and bars experiece these issues during the first month or so of service.

Ditto on BaltBabs commentary.

I tried to go to Milan on Wednesday at 6:15. They wouldn't let me sit at the bar unless I surrendered my computer bag and jacket. Pass.

Maybe I need some arm candy that doesn't run Windows XP.

So clearly they have standards. I would never want to go to a place that have me as a guest. Oh, my life is such a conundrum.

The place look beautiful I loved it. it has every think you want for dining out. Their service was very good and the food was excellent.
Milan brought a new class to little Italy.
We must support restaurant like Milan that beside the class and quality food it provides job to our local citizen.

Sam, close the door it's getting shilly in here!

Nah!!
Milan will be find!!

Milan is connected!!

Take my word for it!!

Do NOT go to Milan for a special occasion. They ruined my 35th birthday party celebration in every way that you could possibly imagine. For starters we had dinner reservations for 9:30 pm and they did not seat us until after 11 pm. Not only did they not seat us, but they had 25 guests standing in the lobby, they didn't even offer a place to sit. They could have easily put us on a few sofas and ordered us some appetizers, but instead they were rude, unorganized and kept lying to us that it would be just 10 more minutes. Around 10:30 pm I was so hungry I was about to pass out, I asked a bartender if I could order an appetizer to hold me until our table was ready, and she refused me stating that if I was waiting for a table upstairs I was not allowed to order food downstairs because they can't tell how long it is going to take. Ridiculous. Then once seated upstairs after waiting in the lobby for almost 2 hours we are greeted by noone. We complain 3 times that noone has been to the table and finally a server arrives after about 15 minutes. We order drinks and appetizers and after about 30 minutes we began to receive some water at half of the table (guess we were supposed to share) and eventually some bread. Our non-water drinks took over an hour to be served (even though there is a bar upstairs that apparently cannot be used even for water) and they arrived in trifling dirty crusted glasses with no apologies. Appetizers took over an hour. Around 12:30 am we began receiving cold incomplete food and again nothing was done to try and make us happy. Needless to say by now I am just ready to leave. I go downstairs and tell the bar manager how unhappy and dissatisfied we are and that we want to leave. He replies that Smitty (the owner) has left the building and we need to wait for him to return. What kind of owner leaves when he has 25 furious guests. I have worked in the restaurant industry for over 10 years and when you have a party that had to wait for almost 2 hours past their reservation you first try and make them comfortable while they are waiting, then once seated you greet them with bread and water immediately, then you hop in the kitchen and make sure that their food comes out fast, hot and correct. None of these things were done to any degree. By 1:00 am we are tired, hungry and totally through with this joke of a place and just want to go home. We beg the server to get whatever he needs to get together so we can go home. He replies that Smitty has left the building and he is the only one with a manager card. After waiting for over an hour for the check we finally leave because we are starving, tired and utterly disappointed. The owner Smitty refused to take any of the food off the check that was never delivered to the table and/or never eaten because it was cold, burnt, or just plain gross. He threatened to have us arrested if we didn't pay for the food even though it wasn't eaten. He said that he has a baby to feed and that he doesn't care that we didn't have a good time all he cared about was getting his money. I would like to warn everyone, Milan may be pretty to look at, but it is run by an immature, inexperienced fagit who cares nothing about customer service or satisfied guests. I have heard about other special occasions that had similar bad experiences there, I just only wish I had heard about them sooner. I just hope I can save at least one person from having their hopes of a decent night crushed, whatever you do STAY AWAY FROM MILAN and you might have a good time

this seemed like a well intended rational gripe until you got derogatory. No one will hear your plight using such slurs maam.

@Cynthia- why did you have to make me finally agree with Tif, ugh!;)

C’mon anon you know you wrote “Tif” in on your ballot when you couldn’t decide on a candidate last election.

Take a look at her FB page I’m sure you’ll agree that she hangs out with very upstanding respectable citizens: “Yo my son is growing up he gonna have a sweet 16 and his first piece of a**.” [this from a "lady"]

@Tif- you are okay in my book.

Now I am thinking that there might be two sides to this story

ya think lol

OH MAN that is an epic post. Fagit! TRIFLING!

Obviously mostly B.S., I'm sure Cynthia is a real sweetheart.

Confucius say if you misspell the slur horribly it's no longer a slur

She misspelled it so it would post. Kinda like @sshole.

or maybe- going back to Milan? "The jet set mafia runs that place- Fagit -ta 'bout it.."

The best thing about that post is that likely 80% of that stuff didn't actually happen. Triflin'!

35th birthday? Don't lie. Based on your Facbeook pic, you're at least late 40s.

buy it:
http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/16872372/1000-Eastern-Ave-Baltimore-MD/

@Tif...Damn, that was quick. But Cynthia's story probably isn't that far off...I went there during the summer and the service was awful and it was super empty on a Saturday night. I was hoping for more places like this in B-More, but they all seem to be good at talking the talk, but not walking the walk.

I've had my own bad experiences at Milan- detailed here. Somehow it garnered me a night there where we had to spend a couple grand- eh- nature of the beast

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at erik.maza@baltsun.com. Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.
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