Thelma on Clinton is reborn as ‘Lil Gem’ Lebanese Restaurant

Posted on: March 24th, 2017 at 5:00 am by

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Chef-restaurateur Melissa O’Donnell delivered on her promise to return to the Lower East Side with a new concept. Indeed, more than a month after shuttering the three-year-old Thelma on Clinton, the space at 29 Clinton Street has been transformed into a Lebanese restaurant called Lil’ Gem.

Evoking her Lebanese heritage again – Thelma was named for O’Donnell’s Lebanese paternal grandmother – the new spot is a joint venture with Lesly Bernard, who conceived the idea, and whose credits include Pravda and Tillman’s. According to press materials, Lil’ Gem will boast a “modern menu” consisting of small, sharable, and large family-style plates, and will offer dips, pies, flatbreads, and schwarma. Expect dishes like Rotisserie Duck with cardamon, pomegranate, honey, thyme, and dried mint; Smoked Fish Kibbeh house smoked fish, quinoa, dill, and preserved lemon; and Fermented Sprouted Chickpea Hummus. There will apparently be plenty of options for vegetarians, too.

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Lil’ Gem is scheduled to open sometime in May.

This is the third go-round for O’Donnell at 29 Clinton Street. Her Salt Bar establishment relocated here from SoHo in 2003, and operated until 2014, when it was replaced with Thelma. Perhaps this third time will be the charm.

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