Here to make us all feel bad about what we were doing at age 19, we've got Flynn McGarry: the teenage chef whose already spent nearly a decade developing his cooking technique and bringing his tasting menu-focused pop-up, Eureka, from coast to coast.
Following the Sundance premiere of his namesake documentary "Chef Flynn," the young gun is riding the wave straight into the opening of his first permanent restaurant, Gem. It's a twofer of an opening, with a coffeeshop on the left ("The Living Room") and a more fine dining situation on the right ("The Dining Room")—the first of which is open today, the latter of which is opening on the 27th (but you should make your reservations now). You'll find them both in the sun-drenched space on the Lower East Side you once knew as Cafe Henrie.
"The Living Room"
Open now, the living room is an all-day cafe and what Flynn imagines as the perfect neighborhood coffeeshop. It's got an extremely chill, California-esque vibe: sparsely and thoughtfully decorated by young designer Brett Robinson, whose model girlfriend Jacqueline Jablonski was enjoying a coffee when we shot the spot yesterday. Which is all to just say something of the crowd you'll find hanging here. On offer: small-roaster coffees, rare teas, house-made carbs like semolina apple bundt cake. It's also where you'll start with snacks and champagne if you come for the prix fixe dinner experience. More on that below.
"The Dining Room"
Here's how this works: reservations open now for Tuesday-Saturday starting February 27th. Two seatings of 18 guests, 6pm and 9pm. 12-15 courses. Fixed price, no tipping. The idea here was to make it feel like an intimate dinner party meets a tasting menu experience, with guests starting in the casual living room space and then heading right—greeting Flynn and his squad, then being seated at a blonde wood banquette covered in yellow velvet cushions, or by the kitchen at an intimate table for five or six. Flynn and his team will be cooking right there beside you; his friends' art on the walls, the furniture he chose scattered throughout, music of his choice playing overhead. After a leisurely dinner of dishes like grilled chicory-filled agnolotti and slow-roasted sunchokes with seaweed, pumpkin seed oil and apples, you can leave knowing the prodigy chef as more than the words "prodigy chef."