Le Turtle quietly opened in mid December on the Lower East Side, one of my favorite areas for dining in New York. Le Turtle is on the corner of Chrystie and Rivington, just down the block from the new mega restaurant Vandal(see my review). Le Turtle could not be more delightfully different.
Le Turtle is a small, hip, obscure restaurant started by two old friends Taavo Somer(of Freeman’s) and Carlos Quirarte(The Smile). Somer and Quirarte brought in chef Greg Proechel from Blanca in Brooklyn. The restaurant opened back in September with a soft opening, catering to only small exclusive private parties.
The space has a fun, modern, hipster vibe. The walls are covered in white subway tiles and white washed exposed brick walls. The table tops are made from white reclaimed marble paired with Danish style chairs. The retro feel comes from the industrial lighting and the white vinyl vertical blinds. Upon entering your eyes immediately catch the white concrete steps that lead up to an intimate elevated booth that is perfect for small groups. The restaurant also has a wonderful alcove that comfortably holds larger groups. The background music solidifies the ambiance, playing a mix of fusion French pop and jazz.
The wine list, curated by Jessie Kiefer, is purely French with a focus on natural wines. Jessie was wonderful at helping guide us through the various wines and recommended the perfect pairings. The French cheeses and charcuterie are a wonderful way to start off the meal. The soft St. Stephen cheese, paired with the delicately shaved Lonzino(cured with coffee), was a perfect complement, all served together with a warm, crusty French baguette. The must have on the menu is the Maine lobster with pickled Aji peppers, tarragon salt, Asian pear and almond curd. Whoever thought to pair peppers with lobster hit this dish on the mark. The fusion flavors of creamy, sweet, spice and savory just explode in your mouth while the lobster just melts away. The combination was just deliciously splendid. For dessert, try the carrot creme brulee with lemon meringue sorbet and shortbread crumbs, simply decadent.
Le Turtle is a wonderful, little, modern fusion French restaurant with a local neighborhood vibe, yet the food and ambiance of big name restaurant. Le Turtle is perfect for a date or a larger group for a fun lively evening. The space is small, 55 seats, so reservations are highly recommended.