Pete Wells: Le Turtle Has The Right Look, and Food To Match…Mostly


When Eater reviewed Le Turtle, they thought its name was “too cool.” They said that eating there was actually just one small part of the experience that is Le Turtle. The Infatuation thought that the entire restaurant was “a joke. Turns out, the joke’s on us.”

Pete Wells begins his review of the new Lower East Side restaurant this week talking about the way the restaurant looks and feels. In terms of design, the 19th century has “overstayed its welcome.” Taavo Somer seems to have realized that, and “together with Carlos Quirarte, owner of the artfully rustic cafe the Smile, he opened what they call a ‘French new wave’ restaurant on the corner of Chrystie and Rivington Streets in December. It goes by the gloriously fake-Gallic name Le Turtle.”

He liked the restaurant, like pretty much everyone else who has reviewed it, though he was somewhat less enthusiastic than other reviewers. According to Wells, servers know what they’re talking about, and when they recommend a favorite dish to you, it’s a sign you should order it. The roasted chicken, he said, is an “excellent contender” for the city’s best, though you should know before you go that quantities are limited. Get one if it’s available. The poached lobster, also recommended, is “juicy and well-flavored.” Though it was “slightly chewy,” it comes with accoutrements that are fun to mix and match with the lobster to make a great bite. The chicken liver mousse was “impressively smooth,” and surprisingly, so was the kohlrabi soup. Also recommended by a server, and also delicious were the “assortment of mushrooms on a spookily good sauce of brie and oysters.”


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But, be cautious. “Stray too far from the recommended dishes, though, and you could end up with the peculiarly unappealing seared foie gras with a fluffy, cloying lemon sauce and something that looks and tastes like cornflake crumbs. Leathery rectangles of squid had very little to say to oroblanco, a cousin of grapefruit.” The oxtail, too, was tough to eat. The best thing on the small dessert menu was “hazelnut financier, busted up into chunks and surrounded with spicy pear purée and yogurt sorbet, among other treats.” They don’t have a liquor license but are getting one soon. For now they’re serving wine.

Servers wear grey jumpsuits “that make them look as if they could change your oil after they refill your water glass,” which was confusing to Wells. The server didn’t seem too happy about the uniform either.

The place is definitely interesting, and it stands out. More importantly, you can definitely have a great meal there- just trust they grey-jumpsuit outfitted servers.

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