At the Bar / Midtown Kitchen
Photos by kc kratt
At a time when so many of Buffalo’s neighborhoods are evolving, the stretch of Elmwood between Utica and Hodge is becoming a particularly strong culinary hotspot. Thin Man Brewery quickly established itself as a destination for craft beer and elevated bar food, Lloyd is primed to storm in with its second Taco Factory, and rounding out the bunch is Midtown Kitchen, also known as MTK. Housed inside the former Nektar restaurant, MTK feels more upscale than the former tenant. Full-glass doors stretch across the face of the restaurant, opening up a continuous space when the weather is right. When the sun goes down, the modern lounge vibe shines through. Low light, a clean, backlit bar, and pumping bass over the sound system make it clear that this is not an uptight place.
There are only five craft cocktails on the menu. Wine is the big focus here, particularly the bubbly kind. Between selections of sparkling wine from France, the United States, Spain, and Italy, there are close to twenty bottles. That is in addition to the reds, whites, rosés, and sparklings by the glass, and the four on tap—a cool touch that sets MTK apart.
A cocktail selection, the Midtown Gimlet, belies its name, but is tasty nonetheless. A classic gimlet is gin and lime juice, maybe with a bit of simple syrup to sweeten it up. It is tart and can be herbaceous, depending on the gin. MTK’s recipe starts with Brooklyn’s Greenhook American Gin and adds elderflower syrup for a St. Germain-like sweetness, as well as Muroise berry liqueur. Our bartender rightly compared the blackberry/raspberry hybrid to that of the more familiar loganberry. Instead of lime juice, this cocktail uses lemon. It is surprisingly well balanced, starting out sweet, then mellowing out. The Muroise provides a nice juicy berry flavor that fills the mouth, while the lemon juice is free of the harshness lime can sometimes bring.
On a recent visit, the cheese plate bore wedge-shaped slices of havarti, provolone, and gouda, plus bread and butter pickles, kalamata olives, pickled red onions, candied almonds, a berry jam, and slices of lightly toasted baguette. Each of the cheeses is tasty on its own and when paired with the additions, but the board might have benefited from a greater variety of cheeses. A funky blue, for example, would have provided a nice contrast to the otherwise soft and mild cheese styles. (Following a recent menu update after our visit, the cheese plate now also includes assorted meats.)
MTK is a welcome addition to this city’s burgeoning food scene, where every new restaurant fills another niche and helps the industry grow.
Technology writer and photographer Nick Guy is a frequent contributor to Spree.