Three modes of kitchen celebrity
Gem New York City
Flynn McGarry really knows how to feed a growing legend, said Pete Wells in The New York Times. The California-born prodigy was profiled in The New Yorker at 13 and had apprenticed at top kitchens in Chicago and Norway by 15. Even now he might appear too young to be running his own restaurant and charging $155 for a tasting menu, “but it doesn’t take more than a few minutes at Gem to see that the adults weren’t just humoring McGarry.” He’s still just 19, yet “his cooking is nuanced, his plating is often lyrical, and the flavors have been delicate, subtle, and very fresh.” One standout: a chilled bowl of mackerel interwoven with grilled cucumbers, sliced plums, and dabs of mashed fermented plums. And even better are his grilled king crab legs glazed with rose-petal miso and accompanied by red currants and chamomile-scented potatoes. McGarry does great things with roast lamb as well, and he only truly disappoints when he tries for the razzle-dazzle of Grant Achatz or similar role models. “He can cook in his own voice now, and it may be time to leave his idols behind.” 116 Forsyth St., no phone
Buffalo Jump East Falmouth, Mass.
The food Brandon Baltzley is serving these days is “often more complicated than it needs to be,” said Devra First in The Boston Globe. “Hyperlocal, labor-intensive,” and “bristling with ideas,” every tasting-menu dinner devised for the restaurant Baltzley and his wife have established on their Cape Cod farm is half punk-rock dare and half sincere bid to imagine a definitive New England cuisine. “Some dishes are just lovely”—like a wild-rice cracker topped with sweet peas, pea blossoms, lemon jam, and clams. “But it is the less standardly lovely that best convey Buffalo Jump’s aesthetic.” Baltzley, a stormy, nomadic talent who might have finally found his home, combines nori, tuna, tuna blood, and cherry in a dish he calls Painting It Black. He also pairs a bacon-like strip of dry-aged duck with a cabbage-wrapped roll of sardine and rice. When he misses his mark, as with his Lobster Julius or mussels cured in kombu, “it’s easy to imagine someone leaving angry.” But in a state that specializes in humdrum cuisine, “it feels a relief to see someone working to invent something.” 277 Hatchville Road, (508) 361-2361
Surf Club Restaurant Miami
“You don’t have to be a star to dine here. But it helps,” said Clarissa Buch in the Miami New Times. At the latest restaurant from celebrity chef Thomas Keller, the bicoastal force behind the French Laundry and Per Se, most entrees run $50 to $100, wine prices run into four figures, and you’re never allowed to forget that you’re sitting in the same exclusive club once favored by Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor. In some cases, the food is as extravagant as you’d hope. There’s a generous dollop of caviar on the $46 soft-boiled egg appetizer, and the $125 beef Wellington is 48-hour-braised short rib layered with a spinach and black truffle mushroom pâté, then bundled in thick brioche. It could feed three. Even so, “the price is unjustifiable,” given that other chefs in town can do as much at half the cost. Keller isn’t even in the kitchen, and “his homage to Gatsby-era glitz” truly feels like a regression to the 1930s, when the Surf Club “excluded almost everyone except the white and the wealthy.” 9011 Collins Ave., Surfside, (305) 768-9440
Daniel Krieger/The New York Times/Redux, Johnny Autry for Garden & Gun ■