19-Year-Old Chef Flynn McGarry Opens First Restaurant in NYC
On Tuesday, 19-year-old chef Flynn McGarry opened the doors to the Dining Room component of his first restaurant, Gem, in New York City. The Living Room—Gem’s casual, café counterpart—opened on February 12, 2018. This exciting debut follows the world premiere of his namesake documentary “CHEF FLYNN” at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, and is a culmination of nearly a decade of cooking at his supper club restaurant, EUREKA, which he operated as pop-ups and residencies in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City, beginning at just 12-years-old.
At Gem, there are two distinct dining experiences: the “Living Room” and the “Dining Room.” The Living Room, open daily from 8 am to 5 pm, is an all-day café offering a selection of micro-roaster coffees, rare teas, and seasonal specialty drinks curated by Director of Coffee Elliott Foos. Guests may also enjoy a rotating assortment of house made pastries and snacks like Semolina Apple Bundt Cake; Caramelized White Chocolate Blondies; and Blueberry Violet Muffins. The adjoining Dining Room, open Tuesday through Saturday, offers a $155 per person (inclusive of gratuity) multi-course tasting menu, with seatings at 6 to 9 pm for up to 18 guests. Guests may also opt for a $100 per person beverage pairing.
The interactive experience is a reflection of an intimate dinner party among friends: guests begin in the Living Room with a glass of champagne and snacks, then move into the Dining Room where they will be seated to enjoy the remainder of the menu - a mix of small plates, shared family-style dishes, and desserts. A clear view of the kitchen allows guests to watch McGarry and his culinary team at work from every seat. Guests are also given the option to enjoy an after-dinner drink back in the Living Room. Upon opening, menu highlights include King Crab with leeks, grapefruit, and rose; New Potatoes cooked in yogurt with mussels and hazelnuts; Pumpkin Char Siu with koji and lime; and the “Lamb Feast,” a series of shared plates including Lamb Loin with vadouvan bagna cauda; Lamb Shank braised with warm spices and apple cider; Grilled Sunchokes with sunflower seed and chili salsa; and a simple, palate-cleansing Bitter Green Salad. Two of McGarry’s signature dishes - a peanut “Ritz” cracker-inspired snack with foie gras, as well as Aged Beet served with its greens and bordelaise—will be menu mainstays.
General Manager and Wine Director Quinn McCann, an alum of Eleven Madison Park and Betony, built a beverage program that predominantly features wines from France, Germany, Austria, and the United States, in addition to an ever-evolving collection of more unique bottles. Sake, East Coast beers, and ciders are also available.
The restaurant’s name, which is McGarry’s mother’s name “Meg” spelled backwards, also nods to it being a neighborhood gem of sorts. It is located on a modest street tucked between a local barber shop and a residential building—but inside the 1,000 square foot space, Gem boasts a welcoming, home-like atmosphere intended to evoke a similar setting to the original supper club dinners McGarry ran out of his childhood home in San Fernando Valley, California. The design was a collaboration between McGarry and friend and interior designer, Brett Robinson. The Living Room features simple design elements including a vintage Persian rug, and an upholstered banquette with a row of asymmetrical steel tables (designed by Robinson) that pair with wooden chairs from Charles Eames. In the Dining Room, the island-style open kitchen anchors three different seating areas complete with Josef Hoffmann armchairs and custom walnut dining sets of banquettes, table tops, and dividers (all handmade by a local artisan in Philmont, New York). Overall, the spaces are set with warm and natural tones and are decorated throughout with potted plants and varied floral arrangements. Rotating artwork from friends and local artists hang on the walls.
Flynn McGarry’s instinctive talent, diverse experience, and unwavering ambition has gained him widespread notoriety and the support from inspirational chefs all over the world. At 13-years-old, he took an apprenticeship at Ray's and Stark Bar at LACMA under chef Kris Morningstar, then later went on to stage at Michelin-starred restaurants like Eleven Madison Park and Alinea in the United States, as well as Maemo in Oslo, and Geranium in Copenhagen.