Earthen Oven NYC Indian Restaurant
Earthen Oven NYC53 West 72 St
(at Columbus Ave)
New York, NY 10023
Earthen Oven NYC Review: Good Food; Bad Desserts; Good Service
We are so tired of eating (and paying for) the lousy Indian food dished out at most Indian restaurants in New York City.
So when our Upper West Side Manhattan friend suggested a relatively new restaurant called Earthen Oven for lunch, it was with a sense of trepidation that we headed for the corner of W.72nd St and Columbus Ave, where this restaurant is located.
Oh boy, was our hesitation unwarranted.
Earthen Oven is a charming find with fine food and courteous service amid the vast wasteland of bad Indian restaurants dotting New York City.
About eight-months-old (as of June 2007), Earthen Oven is a spacious restaurant and has a bar at the entrance.
We went on a Thursday afternoon around 2:10PM, well past the busy lunch session and found only a few tables occupied.
Hungry as we were, we decided to try several items, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, to get a good feel of this restaurant.
Every bread item we tried - Garlic Naan, Plain Naan and Roti - turned out to be delicious and left no room for complaint.
Vegetable SamosaAlthough Samosas are a staple appetizer at most Indian restaurants, most chefs give them short shrift preferring to bestow their attention on the costlier entrees. Oftentimes as a result, Samosas taste yuck and occassionally they turn up not even fully cooked.
But the Earthen Oven Samosas were different. Besides being well cooked, the Vegetable Samosa was spicy as well. The Chicken Samosa was tasty too but a bit on the bland side.
Shrimp AlexShrimp Alex, another appetizer and a special creation of Chef Alex, was a letdown and proved that Earthen Oven wasn't flop-proof. It was underflavored and none of the promised garlic, vinegar, ginger and spices flavor came through.
Tulsi Chicken TikkaTulsi Chicken Tikka (cubes of chicken marinated in fresh basil, coriander and spices) at Earthen Oven was a welcome change from the garish red Tandoori Chicken that we unfailingly encounter at Indian restaurants. This unusual and flavorful entree was a veritable treat.
Lamb RoganjoshKashmir Lamb curry (Lamb Roganjosh) was a dish descended from the very heavens and beyond reproach. Delicious with both rice and Naan bread, the lamb curry was rightly spiced for Indian palates, not a dumbed down impostor meant to curry favor with effete American palates.
While we loved much of the food at Earthen Oven, if pressed we'd confess that our favorite was the Kashmir Lamb. Our mouth still waters at the mere thought of it.
Alu GobiAlu Gobi demonstrated that Earthen Oven's kitchen was as competent on the vegetable side as it is on the meat side.
Dal TadkaWe loved the Dal Tadka (yellow lentils cooked with tomatoes, green chillies, ginger, garlic, turmeric and cilantro) too. Far too often, Dal is inedible - let alone palatable - at most Indian restaurants. Thankfully, Earthen Oven's Dal turned to be a well cooked and well seasoned dish.
ServiceIndian restaurants are notorious for their complete inattention to service. Here again, Earthen Oven stands out for the promptness and quality of its service.
Whether it's refilling the water glasses, the pleasing and knowledgable nature of the Assistant Manager Dhiraj Gowda or quick delivery of food to the table, Earthen Oven's attention to service is miles ahead of most Indian restaurants in New York City.
But where Earthen Oven falls short big time is in its desserts.
DessertsDesserts were a disaster at Earthen Oven. We tried several and were utterly disappointed each time.
Gulab Jamun had a rubbery texture and was far too sweet. Mango Kulfi was an abomination with no trace of the Kulfi flavor we so love while Gajar (Carrot) Halwa was an under-flavored sweet mess.
Apart from the desserts, our only other gripe was that the dining plates were not properly washed at the bottom. When our left hand accidentally touched the bottom side of one the plates, we felt a greasy patch.