New Kid on the Block: Graffiti Earth

Graffiti Earth tablesTonight marks the opening of Graffiti Earth, the new restaurant in the Duane Street Hotel. Chef/restaurateur Jehangir Mehta has made some layout changes to what used to be Mehtaphor: There’s now a dedicated entrance on Church, and the dining room is its own room instead of integrated into the lobby—at 18 seats, it’s even smaller than it was before. (A semi-private dining room can be used for overflow.) In a nice touch, the windows will open. As the name implies, the globally inspired menu will have some overlap with Mehta’s East Village restaurant, Graffiti. Alas, Mehtaphor’s exquisite fries didn’t make the cut.

The other big change is philosophical. The “Earth” part of the name refers to Mehta’s desire for sustainability in matters large and small. “Most restaurants’ napkins are 24 inches by 24 inches,” he offers as an example. “How big of a napkin do you really need? We’re making napkins half that size—and even smaller—from fabric remnants that would normally be thrown away.” Much of the crockery and cutlery comes from his own family and friends: “What good is it doing sitting unused in our homes?” The water tumblers are cut from glass water bottles. Artworks by Shreya Mehta (no relation) are for sale; she donates 90% of the proceeds to women’s education in India, keeping only enough to cover her supplies.

Same goes for the food. The seafood is sustainable; the burger is made with meat scraps; there are a lot of mushrooms on the menu because they require very little water to grow (or space, since they’re grown in stacked beds). Produce is sourced from Chef’s Garden when possible, and Mehta is looking for other purveyors who will sell vegetables that might otherwise be discarded. “Finding that kind of produce is a little hard right now—the supply chain just isn’t there yet. But I hope it’ll get easier as I make connections.” He’s looking everywhere, including down the street. “The guy at that fruit cart is going to sell me whatever he’d usually throw away at the end of the day. Those strawberries might not be pretty enough for you, but I can use them that same night in a jam or whatever.” Mehta also says that a number of schools grow produce hydroponically, and that he’s trying to persuade them to sell the output in July and August, when the students aren’t around.

“I want to work with anyone who is doing good,” he says. “Good is a relative term, of course, but this is how I see it.”

Graffiti Earth is at 190 Church (at Duane), 212-542-9440; The restaurant is only open for dinner, and delivery may be offered at some point.

Graffiti Earth front doorGraffiti Earth dining roomGraffiti Earth counterGraffiti Earth shelvesGraffiti Earth private roomRecent New Kid on the Block / First Impressions articles:
Il Mattone
Pakistan Tea House by Baluchi’s
The Dogpound
Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee
Café Altro Paradiso
Roman K Salon
Wicked Juice and Kitchen
Best Market



  1. Maybe they should just get rid of napkins and ask people to wipe their mouths on their shirt sleeves. That would undoubtedly be better for the Earth than those monstrous napkins that are causing global warming. Stupid.

  2. Agreed Fidus. At the risk of bringing out the trolls, a big napkin is essential to the fine dining experience–at home or out. I won’t be dining there–unless I bring my own napkin.

  3. Concerned about the meat scraps and use of ‘on-the-way-out’ veggies and fruit.

  4. I don’t get the “tailor for vegetarians” thing. How can you take a meat-based dish and “tailor” it into a vegetarian dish. That seems to short-change the whole concept of vegetarian cuisine. It’s not just “the same dish but we make it with tofu,” you know?

  5. Wow. Give it a chance! I like the spirit of it. If the food is good I’ll be glad to make due with smaller napkins and un-wasted ingredients. I like the concept.