The servers at Le Turtle are dressed in mechanic suits, creating a grunge and garage style one might not expect from an upscale French restaurant. But Le Turtle isn’t your traditional French restaurant.
A modern take on French cuisine with a focus on vegetables can be found on the menu at this restaurant. And because you know you’re going to eat your vegetables, why not treat yourself and order the bread with Le Turtle butters? Their bread is worth ordering because it comes out crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and warm all throughout.
My family and I ordered four appetizers and we passed them around the table so everyone could taste them. The broccoli salad with fennel labne, pistachio crumble, baby kale and pear was my appetizer of choice. This salad was a nice balance of a variety of flavors: nutty, savory, sweet and creamy. It could have been too bitter from the broccoli, but the other ingredients helped to mellow it out.
The salmon crudo with roasted beets, creme fraiche, trout roe and rye was ordered by my mom. I though this dish would have benefited from less creme fraiche because there was too much of it present, and it took away from the flavors of the salmon.
My aunt chose the roasted carrots, which came with carrot butter, radish, confit egg yolk and oat crumble. I almost picked this over the broccoli salad, but I’m happy I didn’t because the roasted carrots came up short in comparison. The carrot taste was very prevalent in this dish, and the flavors from the radish and oats didn’t come out as much. I enjoyed the confit egg but nobody else at the table did.
The romaine with garlic confit emulsion and anchovy breadcrumb with fiore sardo was my uncle’s pick for appetizer. This salad came with an abundance of romaine and was a good-sized portion. I don’t mind the taste of anchovies, but if you do then this dish may not be for you because the anchovy taste is prominent.
For my entree, I ordered the grilled wagyu shortrib with oyster-brie emulsion, matsutake mushrooms, bok choy and aji dulce. I expected a hearty entree – a piece of meat with the other elements acting as sides – but this dish came out looking more like a salad. Though it wasn’t what I expected, I still enjoyed it. The meat was well cooked and tender, the brie added a creamy and rich element, and the dish was overall light.
My mom ended up with the heartier dish. She picked the oxtail with celery breadcrumbs, mirepoix, horseradish and grilled batard. Her meal was very rich, filling and decadent. I was fortunate enough that she couldn’t finish it because I got to take home her leftovers. The oxtail was still as good a few days later as it was when she initially ordered it. If you dine at Le Turtle, this dish is a must.
My aunt and uncle split the Sasso chicken for two with Brussels sprouts, green apples, yeast and goat cheese. This chicken is presented on a plate with burning hay, and then the waiter takes it to the back to cut apart and serve in an way that’s easier to eat. But one word of warning: the chicken is brought back out with its feet still one, so beware if you’re squeamish. Despite the feet, the chicken was savory, juicy and perfectly seasoned. I also tried the Brussels sprouts, green apples, yeast and goat cheese side it came with, and I really enjoyed it. The Brussels sprouts were bitter, while the green apples added some sweetness and the goat cheese provided the creamy texture.
The food was divine and I would go back again for the oxtail, chicken and broccoli salad. Pair the delicious food with the hip and artistic atmosphere, and you can say Le Turtle is successful in providing its patrons with modern French cuisine. The only way my experience could have been heightened was if the service was improved. If Le Turtle can work on its service, then they’ll be more successful in gaining status as a must-eat upscale restaurant in Manhattan.
Address: 177 Chrystie St, New York, NY 10002
Phone number: 646-918-7189
Price: $$$ Expensive.
Hours: Mon-Sun 6 PM-11 PM
Service: My uncle and aunt have eaten there three times before, and each time they were able to bring their own wine and pay a corkage fee. When we arrived with our own wine, the maître d’ told us we weren’t allowed to bring our own wine. My uncle explained he has done this before, and the maître d’ was more rude than accommodating. We did get to drink our own wine and pay a corkage fee, but it was a hassle. Our server was decent but arrogant, as well.
Atmosphere: Sleek, modern, upscale, hip and artistic.