Note: Earth closed in early 2009.
Earth NYC, a pan-Asian restaurant in far west Chelsea, hasn’t gotten much press. It opened eighteen months ago as a nightclub, and added a dinner menu about five months ago. Book at any time you want, and you get a 1,000-point bonus on OpenTable. At 8:00 p.m. last night, only a handful of tables were taken.
The menu covers a lot of ground—or tries to. Each item is labeled for its place of origin: Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, India. There are plenty of choices: seven soups & salads ($7–10), a dozen small plates ($9–21), seventeen large plates ($14–27), and seven kinds of bread, rice, and noodles ($4–16).
For a place designed primarily as a club, our expectations were low. The strong appetizers were therefore a pleasant surprise. I started with the very respectable Vegetable Dumplings ($9), which came with a side salad of shredded lettuce and carrots. My friend was equally impressed with Lamb Samosa ($9), three savory pastries stuffed with minced lamb. She was also quite pleased with the Chicken Chilli Basil ($14), but my Chicken Curry Ayam ($16) was mediocre. The chicken, which came in a soup bowl, was tough, over-cooked, and drowned in a dull curry broth.
The space is reasonably comfortable, with plenty of room between tables. The funky Asian soundtrack in the background is not oppressively loud. The decor? You will either love it or hate it, depending on your tolerance for lipstick red. I was reasonably impressed, but it won’t be to all tastes. A spectacular 30-foot wall of candles has potential, although they were not lit last night.
Service was at least competent, although our water glasses usually went a while without being refilled. A bread service would be helpful, given that both appetizers and entrées were a tad slow to come out.
I have a tough time getting a read on this place, given that one of the entrées and both appetizers were good, but the other entrée was not pleasant at all. As prices are modest, we certainly didn’t feel cheated. But with so many other intriguing restaurants to try, I probably won’t be rushing back to find out whether my dull curry was an anomaly.
Earth NYC (116A Tenth Avenue between 17th & 18th Streets, Chelsea)
Food: Satisfactory; possibly better