On Wednesday night I attended a cocktail reception at the new Milan restaurant/lounge in Little Italy. As Suzanne Loudermilk wrote on her blog, she and I were able to get a private tour of the space a few weeks back and it's pretty impressive. The plush white leather couches and glittery cherry red bar make patrons feel as if they're in a lounge in Miami or Los Angeles. Plus, there are private rooms off the upstairs dining area and an outdoor patio (with space heaters) that offers year-round al fresco dining.
At the media reception, Milan offered a handful of complimentary drinks, two of which were signature martinis. The Prada martini (Grey Goose vodka, peach schnapps, and cranberry juice) was a bit too sugary for my taste. And the Fendi martini (Stoli vanilla vodka, Frangelico, crème de coco, and cream) would make a good after-dinner drink, but was too heavy to start the night out. But, I loved their version of the Melon Ball cocktail (melon liqueur, vodka, and pineapple juice), which was a frothy, perfectly balanced blend of sweet and sour flavors.
Normally, these cocktails would run about $11 each. Yikes. Good thing Milan offers a decent happy hour Monday through Friday from 5-7 p.m. Specials include $3 domestic bottled beer, $4 select white and red wines, $5 mixed drinks, and a rotating $6 fashion martini (like the two above). It also offers $2.50 off small plates, flatbreads, and bruschettas.
Though Milan hasn't even been open for a month, there's already a lot of talk about whether a space like this can succeed in this city. Certainly there have been a lot of lounge-type places that haven't fared well in low-maintenance Baltimore. But, there have been many (like Red Maple and Pazo) that have thrived. I think Milan's proximity to Harbor East will help its business tremendously—most people that frequent that neighborhood wouldn't mind the steep drink prices and would welcome the beautiful décor.
Still, in order for it to truly succeed, Milan will have to prove it's just as successful beneath the surface—with stellar service, consistently delicious food, and a lively bar scene. But if Wednesday night's wall-to-wall attendance was any indication, it's off to a good start.
[Image: courtesy of bmoremedia.com]