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Review: Good Earth

What makes a successful restaurant chain break a thirty year habit and open its first new establishment in London for three decades?

The answer, it seems, is an opportunity to get in on Bellevue Road.

The restaurant in question is Good Earth and it opened its Wandsworth Common establishment last September, 30 years after it opened its original Knightsbridge, Esher and Mill Hill branches. There have been mini-Good Earth delivery establishments opened in the intervening years but nothing like this 100-cover, teak and mirrors, floor-tiles-so-shiny-you-could-eat-your-dinner-off-them restaurant.

Thirty years ago, when Good Earth opened its upmarket Chinese restaurants, it was blazing a trail. Before that many people’s experience of Chinese cuisine would have been greasy noodles, soya sauce and disposable chop sticks. However, today it’s a very different landscape. There are numerous other high-end, and highly-priced, Chinese restaurants out there, suggesting that Good Earth will have to offer something a bit different if it wants to stand out from the crowd again.

If the dragon whisker prawns are anything to go by, then it’s done just that. They arrived at the table looking like Boris’ hair on a windy day, and proved to be a delicious, delightfully playful and an original, contemporary alternative to the ubiquitous prawn crackers. Further initiative was shown with the fried seaweed which was served in what is best described as an oyster shell made out of a poppadom.

The main courses did not quite hit the creative highs of the starters, though I enjoyed a very fine fried steak in clay pot that was prepared and fired at the table, like some personalised Mongolian barbecue. As with many Chinese menus, there’s little sign of seasonal variation (asparagus is offered all year round), but Good Earth does have a thoughtful combination of original dishes and old favourites that keeps you both intrigued and reassured.

In all, Good Earth Wandsworth Common has picked up where Knightbridge left off thirty years ago, offering those qualities we’ve come to enjoy from the group: quality ingredients, sumptuous surrounding and inventive Chinese cuisine.

Good Earth, Bellevue Road, SW17, 020 8682 9230 www.goodearthgroup.co.uk

Good Earth Wandsworth Common