Nine weeks ago, heaven descended upon Elmwood Avenue.
It was then that Nektar, Stavros Malliaris' new martini bar and restaurant, opened its doors to reveal Malliaris' dream of a floaty, white world of people drinking divine martinis.
The restaurant's soft, frosted glass windows cloud out the sad Buffalo weather, and the woodwork in the building are a light blonde color. The few tables that huddle around the long, light bar are all white.
Soft white drooping lights and strategically hung white drapes, along with two goldfish standing guard from high above either side of the bar, give Nektar's guests the feeling that they are either warm in their bedrooms, dreamingly pleasantly, or drifting high in the clouds with the gods, enjoying a heavenly martini.
Malliaris, a native of Greece, is also the proud owner of the 17-year-old Ambrosia, located two doors down from Nektar. The two go hand-in-hand: In Greek mythology, Ambrosia is the food of the gods and Nektar is their drink.
He opened the bar and restaurant, according to Nektar manager Jeanne Mulkey, to provide a place that was a fun and entertaining escape.
"Nektar transports you to another place," said Mulkey. "Many people ask why we frosted the front windows, but by the time they leave, they understand. The windows shut out Elmwood and reality. ... It's like you're on a vacation when you're in Nektar."
What's drawing many people to Nektar is buzz about their martinis ($5-10), which are as divine as their reputation. The specialty menu has an impressive 29 choices, ranging from the traditional sidecar of brandy (triple sec, sour mix, and cherry and orange liqueurs) to the Vanilla Love Cosmo (Stoli Vanilla; Bacardi O, an orange-flavored rum; Chambord; and passion and orange fruit flavors), which was scrumptious the night I visited. Other selections include the French Kiss, the 007, the U4E-A, and the Cajun Martini.
In addition to its martini selection, Nektar offers an impressive wine list with glasses for $7.00 and bottles ranging from $20.00 to $150.00 for some of the finest wine found in Buffalo.
Nektar has one of the very few wood-burning ovens in Buffalo, in which both appetizers and entrees, including their flat bread pizzas, are cooked. "This type of oven gives all the food a hint of smoky flavor," said bartender James.
The starters range from the simple wood roasted olives ($7.50) to rosemary grilled shrimp ($11.00) and wood roasted bluepoint oysters ($12.00). Flat breads are reasonably priced pizzas ($8.50-12.00) with gourmet toppings such as smoked gouda, lobster, and wonderful cheeses and spices such as prosciutto, sage, gorgonzola, white truffle oil, and parmesan ricotta.
The entrees are a bit pricier, but the choices are delectable and have a similar wood-grilled appeal. The cheapest choice is pappardelle pasta ($17.00), made with roasted corn, asparagus, and wild mushrooms. The most expensive is a fabulous-sounding wood-grilled domestic rack of lamb ($34.50), prepared with apple, pear, mint relish, and Mediterranean potatoes.
Though an empty wallet prevented me from tasting the delicacies Nektar offers, the smells that abounded and the dishes that I was able to catch a glimpse of gave me incentive to return. All of Nektar's menu items are served on white dishes delicately sprinkled with green spices and, from what I could tell, in generous portions.
Though the atmosphere and crowd in Nektar is a bit loud for the muted d?(c)cor, I would definitely recommend it to anyone wishing to have a fun yet elegant night out on Elmwood Avenue.
Nektar is located at 451 Elmwood Ave. Food service runs until 11 p.m.; appetizers are available until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.