Turtle + the Wolf

Turtle + the Wolf
Turtle + the Wolf
NJ Town: Montclair
Cuisine: New American

Ms. Hipster and I celebrated a joint birthday some time ago. A few folks were kind enough to get us a phat gift certificate for Turtle + the Wolf. A joint we’d been to before, but a joint we certainly had no problem going back to. They have an ever-changing menu, after all, and it’s one of the more premier restaurants in Montclair. If premier means decent food, good atmosphere and not a place your auntie would find herself on a thursday night.

The issue is that our birthdays were back in October, and this was August of the following year. Not as if the gift certificate expired or anything, but Ms. Hipster told them it was our “birthday dinner.” Which I suppose was technically true, however it was incredibly awkward when they wished us a happy birthday and even printed personalized birthday greetings on our menu. And gave us a great table up by the window. Pretty f’ing classy. But also definitively not our birthdays. Though they would have no way of knowing that. We in the Hipster family are not liars, but will certainly stretch the truth if it means getting preferential treatment.

In addition to liking positive attention, we love an appetizer. So much so we ended up ordering three: rosemary focaccia, pecorino arancini and roasted beets with frisée, citrus, candied hazelnuts and goat cheese dressing. Damn if we can’t stuff ourselves with found-money starters. Honestly, I could have just eaten ten of the arancini and been satisfied and incredibly happy. Though the other apps were almost equally as tasty. But you really can’t beat a fried rice ball in spicy tomato sauce and parmesan. It’s almost a perfect food.

Afraid that I’d not have enough room for the chocolate thing I spied further down the menu — and after the indulgent three-course appetizer — I went with the lightest main I could think of: The PEI mussels with leeks, garlic, parsley, smoked paprika, white wine and lemon. And, yes, it sounds like a lot of stuff, but, honestly, there is very little actual food to be had with mussels. If you squeezed them together they’d be maybe three McNuggets worth of grub. A perfect choice! Deliciously herbaceous and just the right size not to ruin my finale: the chocolate peanut-butter tart. Goddamn, that’s some heaven. And I’m not even a desert person. Just a sucker for anything chocolate and peanut peanut butter (and even some banana if it suits).

So, yes, we got that decent meal. And got our primo seating. And we got some cool personalization on our birthday / not-birthday. But we also got terrific service, cool surroundings and just an overall pleasant evening out on the town. Well, not out on the town, but in a well-lit restaurant with a bottle of wine and my fake birthday girl. Who could ask for anything more?

622 Valley Rd. — Montclair