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Jul 18, 2002 03:49 PM

Red Maple... a MUST GO in Baltimore

  • m

The Red Maple is a little tiny incredibly chic hideaway on a side street in Baltimore... my cab driver went by it twice before we figured out where it was. The inside looks like something you'd find in Soho... post-modernist cinder block mixed with sleek teak and candlelight. In the back of the very narrow interior is a little Zen-kind of garden with a single delicate red maple and a few little stone benches. It's kind of a Asia-inspired tapas place with great food, good prices and phenomenol drinks. The best place to sit is above the entrance, where a flight of open steps leads to two round tables underneath a 20-foot-long photo of a orange sunset-glowing desert scene. One of the tables has little low round cushions and the other is on a carpeted platform and you lean back against pillows. The tapas are short of extraordinary but still plenty good... the atmosphere is tops. Here's a brief from Baltimore On-line. If you can find it, GO! And don't may too much attention to the stuff at the bottom. I'm 40 but not beautiful, free of either leather OR silicone. And no palstic surgeon either.
930 N. Charles Street, 410-547-0149

The Red Maple is so insiderish, they don’t even have a sign on the door. Basically, it’s either be in-the-know or go home. (Hint: there’s an arty tree logo etched into the glass doors.) Once inside, this self-styled “new-Asian tapas lounge” defies simple definition. Is it New York Industrial? Sexy South Beach? Either way, it sure ain’t typical Baltimore.

Minimalist décor reigns throughout in the sharp lines of the low furniture, the simple exposed white brick, the hardwood floor, and the soaring ceiling. Head up the stairs to the first bar, which is dominated by two stunning steel fireplaces. Here, the ambience is relaxed: You can chill in front of the fire or engage your neighbor in conversation on one of the communal settees.

Off to the left of the lower lounge is a flight of steps lined with cushions and topped with a raised sitting area under a kitschy glowing desert scene where guests languidly perch, nibble on tapas treats, and look down on the beautiful people.

Slink further into the club to the main bar area. A continuous banquette runs along one wall accompanied by squat, ottoman-like chairs and tables. Black clad waiters and bartenders are pleasant but busy, as trendsetters pack this area. The wait for a table can be brutal—better to cozy up to the glass-topped bar and check out the scene. The crowd at Red Maple is truly an eclectic mix: Art house types are well represented alongside high society and hipsters. The dress code can be summed up as “stylish”; be prepared to see a fair dose of leather, mink, and silicone.

Towards the back of Red Maple is a sunken dance floor where DJs spin sweet break beats and trance. Red Maple keeps its immaculate lounge smoke-free, but also respects its nic-fitting patrons; adjacent to the dance floor is a glass-enclosed smoker’s haven where you can gaze up at the stars or admire the tiny red maple tree planted at your feet. —K.L.

Who goes there?
20- to 40-something beautiful people.

How they dress?
Jimmy Choo’s and Marc Jacobs are de rigueur. And if you think those are the names
of the bartenders, you might want to take a pass.

What they ?
Chichi martini’s.

The vibe?
L.A. meets Mobtown.

Be warned - Get there early (before 9 p.m.) to avoid paying cover ($10) and to snag a desired seat.

“Who’s your plastic surgeon?”

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  1. I guess I'm not one of the 20-40 beautiful people either, and I don't know who Jimmy Choo is (although I've heard of Marc Jacobs), but I would agree that Red Maple is a must go, although for a different reason.

    I went there with my wife for a light dinner the other night, and we had a great time. We went about 7; virtually no one else was there; and we got a seat at the bar which I assume would be de rigeur for enjoying one's meal, since the tables are about two feet off the ground and I have heard people complain about trying to get the food to one's mouth when sitting at the table.

    Good martinis. Pretty inventive small plates, although they only have about 9 of them, and we enjoyed the desserts as well.

    Won't say anything about leather, silicone, or plastic surgery, except it wouldn't hurt to be one if you went there.

    2 Replies
    1. re: asun

      I enjoy the Red Maple when I want to feel like I'm out of town and in LA or NYC.

      1. re: toyo

        Beware, there is a rigorous dress code. I stopped in for a drink after work and was denied entry due to my sneakers. There was no one else in the place, so I don't know who I could have offended (I was dressed for work, except for the sneaks). They won't get my business again.

    2. ok so i know i am writing this post 7 years later than the original which leads me to think that may be the reason of my flagrant disagreement with what people have said on here about Red Maple. four of us recently dined, 9 pm with reservations on a Saturday night. when we got there the music was so loud that we were yelling at each other. i love a good dance club as much as the next gal but we were trying to have dinner and catch up. being given this important info when we were making dinner reservations would have saved us from even going in there. so the waiter comes over, takes the drink orders and is off. ten minutes later he comes back with 3 drinks and tells us they are out of the beer my friend ordered. he orders a different one and the waiter was off again. another ten minutes goes by (and no i am not exaggerating) and he returns empty handed. seems they are out of that beer also. being frustrated my friend asks 'what beers they do have, and no please dont go check....i take the list you can remember off the top of your head.' finally all with libations in hand we place our order. the food was decent, imaginative and intriguing in style, but taste wise nothing to write home about. after having to remind the waiter my eggplant dish never made it out, the busboy returns and hands my a bowl. it was some cous-cous veggie eggplant at all. with our waiter no where in sight we taste it thinking maybe we were the crazy ones. nope it was them. finally our waiter comes over and goes 'did you like the eggplant substituion dish?' uh, wasnt what i ordered or wanted, nor was i told that once again your were out and offered something else. (come on people its saturday night...cant you keep your place properly stocked for the busiest night of the week??!!?). by just throwing some dish on my table and walking away ensured that we will never return. why would i care to go back to a place that doesnt care about the service they give or the food they serve?? this place should only be frequented for the awesome architecture and dancing.

      4 Replies
      1. re: loveisfood

        If you go to the Red Maple for food, go early. You get great bites and good service even if you're not cool enough. After 8:30 it's not a restaurant any more, it's a "scene"

        1. re: crowsonguy

          Last time I went, there was a metal detector. And it did appear to be needed that night. That was the last time.

          1. re: chowsearch

            chowsearch - what did you order, and how was it?

            1. re: crackers

              The music was too loud to order that time, and I was put off by being wanded by the bouncers out front. The different theme nights of the week have differing dj's, different crowds. I know earlier it's quieter, and sometimes business people go after work, but Brewer's Art rosemary fries for me from now on.