TravelNoise: Graffiti Earth, New York
If you aren’t paying close attention, you’ll miss the cool glass doors leading you into the Duane Street Hotel. Inside, the practically just-opened Graffiti Earth boasts softly, while providing big flavour and creativity in its dishes. Other reviews have called it intimate on every level; the chef is known to bring out his dishes and chat about them with his guests. As you pass through the dark, sleek bar filled with people in cocktail attire, you’ll wish you would’ve not worn that shirt with the “barely noticeable” tea stain on it.
Past the bar and into the restaurant, you could swear you just stepped into someone’s kitchen—small, square napkins and mismatched glasses and utensils induce a feeling of pure nostalgia, while contemporary neutrals wake up the senses. The place can’t possibly seat more than 20, and no sooner than you arrive, you’re greeted warmly and whisked a whole five feet to your table.
It was creeping toward high-time for dinner, and a few more parties took their seats as I sipped the highly-recommended lychee martini ($12), sweet and topped with crisp prosecco. The menu is focused and deeply interesting. Each appetizer and entree is a surprisingly delightful mix of elements, which made the thought of choosing among them almost too difficult to bear. I made it through just in time for the zucchini hummus pizza ($12) and coconut soup ($12) to arrive, both of which were beautifully and cleanly plated (as would all dishes to follow). The soup, poured delicately into a teacup, mingled comforting curry and punchy cilantro while the pizza was flaky and sprinkled with wasabi for crunch—both plates were cleaned as my dining partner savoured the last bite of pizza.
I polished off the Malbec mole duck with pepper seaweed ($17), which was smoky and tender and balanced nicely with rice crisps in the rich mole, while the alternative dish, the scallop brûlée, in a cauliflower wasabi yogurt sauce ($17), was an equally delicious, yet much lighter fare. I found myself swiping remaining mole sauce from the bowl with a finger while my guest spooned last bits of cauliflower through her creamy, slightly spicy yogurt sauce.
For dessert, there is no choice but the Persian toast ($9), an angel cake base that’s fluffy in the centre and grilled on the bottom, dribbled over with butterscotch and Bailey’s ice cream and topped with chocolate pearls. Its depth of flavour was an equal match for all the other dishes I’d tasted and was the perfect ending to a fantastic meal.
Leaving the restaurant, we shook hands with the chef and the host, and I made a note to myself to make a reservation down the road for a friend’s birthday. The food was a total culinary adventure, and the waitstaff were extremely friendly and accommodating. Just when you thought Tribeca couldn’t possibly need another game-changing restaurant to covet, you’re proven wrong the moment you step into Graffiti Earth.