This past weekend I had the opportunity to experience one of the newest additions to nightlife in our city, Nick’s Martini & Wine Bar. Located in the East State Village, Nick’s occupies a fully refinished space which was once the Rib Room’s family dining section. As the new establishment prepares for their grand opening, I took the opportunity to get a taste of the space so near and dear to my very own neighborhood in Lakeside.
Over lunch I chatted with Karon Messman who is Nick’s general manager. Karon’s excitement for Nick’s was obvious as she explained the purchase of the building by the Henry brothers Chris, Kurt, and Matt, the remodeling of the family room into the new establishment, and the process of pulling things together in preparation of opening. We spoke about their drink menu offering classic martinis and cocktails, craft beers, and an extensive wine list with a reserve list coming soon. She explained their food menu which offers shareable small plates and desserts created from locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. We also discussed their entertainment offerings and how they are focusing on bringing an eclectic selection of musicians to their stage. All with hopes to attract the young professional demographic as well as their East State neighbors. I originally intended this article to be an interview but in true Living Fort Wayne style, I wanted to put more of a personal experience into it, so I ventured there that very evening.
The establishment itself is both classy and classic with hardwood surfaces providing a warmth of space and special attention to lighting that sets the right mood for an establishment of that nature. We took seats at the bar-rail, which is a u-shaped, granite-topped rail seating about twenty people. In the center of the bar was their selection of spirits, proudly lit and on display. All around at high-top tables of two or four, or lounge seats surrounding a shared center table, people were smiling, sipping libations, sharing food, and enjoying the entertainer of the night, Mason Meussling.
I was excited to find one of my favorite cocktails on the drink menu, the Aviation, so of course I ordered it. It was prepared with precision and explained through the process. She even took the time to explain to me exactly what crème de violette, one of the key ingredients, was. Needless to say, it was delicious. We spent some time at the bar speaking with other customers and the bar staff before we ordered off of the small plate menu. When the food came, all three of us were thoroughly impressed. My own personal favorite, as well as the personal favorite of Karon, the general manager, was the maple sausage stuffed jalapenos. The combination of the sweet maple and the spice of the jalapeno was an unexpected and delicious surprise.
As new establishments go, I tend not to place too much weight on service issues as they work out the kinks, however at Nick’s I experienced nothing but quick, friendly service. The bartenders, servers, and support staff all seemed to work together effectively and were smiling in the process. The bartenders took the time to interact with the patrons which is one thing that I look for in an establishment. The drinks were cold and well balanced while the food was hot, quick, and delicious.
The East State Village has a new great addition to it’s ranks with Nick’s Martini & Wine Bar. With their selection of eclectic music, their classic cocktail offerings with rare ingredients, and their target demographic of young professionals and East State neighbors, I think Nick’s will be a unique entry into the nightlife scene in downtown Fort Wayne. It most definitely made it onto my list of regular spots.
Nick’s Martini and Wine Bar’s official Grand Opening is this Wednesday, February 25 with live entertainment from Chris Worth.
Normal business hours are Monday through Saturday, 4 pm to close. Reservations are accepted for parties of six or more.
Photos courtesy of Mike Kanning.