According to a recent New York Times article, "Gen X [is Having] a Midlife Crisis". Well, you wouldn't know it at Flannel's Cafe', because in this midtown eatery, Generation X it still in its grungy, nihilistic, slacker prime.
Yes, it was inevitable. If most theme restaurants have a sixties/seventies ambiance, why not a theme restaurant for the "Nevermind" generation? Yes, I know "why not"--but let that pass, because Flannel's Cafe' is where X marks the spot for flavor.
I like Flannel's because it just has that friendly, unassuming vibe that we associate with the post-boomer generation. Walk in and be pummeled by the music to dine by: Nirvana's "Scentless Apprentice" from a Peavey amp suspended above the hostess station.
Do you remember all those articles in Time magazine in the 1990's about how Gen X types were sullen wage slaves? Well, the help here at Flannel's lives up to that stereotype, but in an amusing, ironic (of course) way. So it isn't offensive at all. In fact, it's kind of sweet, bathing you in nostalgia for a time when people were deeply shocked to see a cash-register operator wearing a nose ring.
The bare bones atmosphere of Flannel's won't win any interior design awards. Exposed beams and wiring, with glaring lamps (and blaring amps) and uncomfortable seating, drop you down a time warp into the psychological darkness of the grunge decade.
As befitting a "Hard Rock Cafe" knockoff, Flannel's features goofy rock star memorabilia on the walls, items such as Kurt Cobain's death certificate that couldn't be more obvious and unimaginative.
As for the food, it's excellent, and I think if Flannel's dropped the 1990's nostalgia trappings, they might have a decent little "hole"-in-the-wall. I had the orange roughy with a lime smoothie, because I believe in taking the roughy with the smoothie.
Overall, I had a wonderful experience at Flannel's. This trip down memory lane made me pine for the days of that surprisingly light-hearted decade. If you're looking for a similar experience, be sure to pop into Flannel's Cafe'. I'm happy to give Flannel's Cafe' Five Smoothies!