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Brunching at Nektar: A Sunday Devotion

For some, trying a new restaurant is a bit daunting, especially if you don’t go out for nice, sit-down meals very often. It’s easy to be torn. Why would you want to risk wasting a rare evening out and the contents of your wallet on a poor meal or shabby service? But then again, you’ve had the same meal at the same restaurant the last three times you were out, and everyone’s been talking about this great new restaurant, so why not try something different? Though I don’t personally identify with this conundrum, I recognize that it is an issue many are faced with.
Though my solution is not a cure-all for this situation, it may provide you with an alternative. If you’re really interested in trying a new or different restaurant, find out if they serve brunch. Many of the city’s nicer restaurants do, and it provides customers the chance to get a feel for the atmosphere, the menu and the quality of service. Certainly brunch is a more casual affair; it is unlikely that you’ll need to dress up and the staff is always more relaxed. I find it easier to get a sitter on a Sunday, I’m not tired and wishing I was at home in my pajamas, and the check is generally a third (or less) of what I’d pay for dinner out.
Recently my husband and I decided to sample the brunch offered by Nektar, one of Elmwood’s sleekest restaurants. I’d visited once or twice but never for brunch, and my husband had never been at all. Sexy after dark, Nektar’s blond wood, great lighting and clean lines easily transform into an airy and serene brunch spot with the arrival of the morning sun.
While there we saw people in jeans and T-shirts as well as those dressed as if they had just come from Sunday services. The menu is accessible and has been written with most every palate in mind. Additionally, brunch at Nektar is prix fixe, meaning that every dish is the same price. In this case, $16 will buy you not only a delicious meal, but also your choice of tea or coffee and a mimosa or spicy Bloody Mary.
There were a number of very tempting items on the menu, a few of which included Eggs Benedict with your choice of Canadian bacon, crab cakes, steak or Nektar’s homemade lamb sausage, a focaccia breakfast pizza topped with scrambled eggs, sausage, peppers onions and cheddar, and the Red Flannel Hash which is made with corned beef and red beets and is served with poached eggs. For a sweet treat, the classic Belgian waffle is available, and if you want to up the ante, you can order a version that incorporates the flavors of the season with the addition of pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg.
When we arrived we were presented with water, lightly perfumed with lemon and cucumber, and an invitation to enjoy the complimentary spread of Danish and pastries, a variety of granola, fresh yogurt, cheese and olives.
I opted for the potato pancakes with smoked salmon, while my husband ordered the turkey club made with Canadian bacon and Gruyere. The austere white plates at Nektar are rimless, and at nearly 14” in diameter, it would have been easy for the plate to overshadow the food, but there is no need to worry about that here. The number of crisp potato pancakes topped with thick, generous slices of rich, smoky salmon and soft, tangy crème fraiche bordering my plate surprised me.
My husband and I decided to share our meals, something we often do, and by the time we had finished the contents of my plate alone we were both too full to eat much more. The club sandwich was prepared perfectly and accompanied by a heavy metal bowl of steaming olfactory pleasure, the soup of the day. Though the waitress initially described it as chicken noodle, it was far more satisfying than that, a clear broth full of chicken, scallions, thinly sliced mushrooms and Israeli cous cous. It was fantastic, so good in fact that we ordered an additional bowl to go.
Our main selections were accompanied by home fries, a side of cool green beans tossed in yogurt and lemon and a side of fruit that–unlike most breakfast offerings–was actually fresh and could be considered a genuine part of the meal.
I had heard about the sausage they make in house from Nektar’s sous chef during the second installment of Buffalo Rising’s Chef’s Challenge. The “side” portion is substantial: Two large patties of lamb grace the plate and the palate with the addition of aromatic orange and lemon zest, feta cheese, a touch of cayenne and just enough oregano to provide a fantastic back finish. “Lamb sausage, please,” should be the first thing that falls from your lips when you are greeted by your server.
What a lovely way to spend a morning, and even better, what a nice way get to know a new restaurant. On a sunny, cloudless morning, a visit to Nektar can only enhance your day. But if it’s grey and chilly, it’s sure to warm your soul.

451 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo 14222

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