The Tortoise and the Hare. Frog and Toad. Turtle + the Wolf- a little difficult to distinguish the name of this place from a children’s book.

William Thomas

With all jokes aside, this restaurant embodies a new level of maturity compared to many other settings I’ve dined in. We’re talking coat hooks on the wall right next to your table; their recognizable turtle logo with the wolf shell stamped on the bottle of sparkling water for the table. 

Even the lights have cachet, resting above your head inside of what looks like stemless wine glasses.

The Name

cake, beer, tea, coffee
William Thomas

Turtle + the Wolf derives from the mind of owner Lauren Hirschberg and her affinity for Montclair. The name cites the cultural significance that both turtles and wolves had to the Lenape Indians, who settled on the land hundreds of years ago.

Hirschberg researched symbolic traits for both animals and was inspired by the determination and persistence of the turtle along with the “appetite for freedom” that the wolf has. She believes these traits match the nature of professional kitchens as well as her own attributes as a chef.

(Don’t let the name fool you, there isn't anything on the menu as bizarre as turtle or as gamey as wild dog.)

The Entrée

William Thomas

I went with the PEI Mussels and I did not go wrong. 

The meal was lugged to the table in a white serving bowl that housed potatoes, fennel and mussels on top of a light-red velouté sauce, accompanied by a piece of focaccia bread.

I forked into the potatoes for my first move. They looked like mini chicken eggs still packed inside of the shell. Each potato was generously doused with paprika and soft enough to explode on the first bite.

The mussels tasted… like mussels, frankly. Acceptable, but nothing over the top. The first one that I removed from the shell I simply ate without taking advantage of the mind-blowing velouté sauce at the bottom of the bowl. Stupid me.

The sauce had my heart. It was a mixture of shellfish velouté, white wine and Chile de Árbol. It had fair consistency- a nice median between runny and thick. However, it was a bit salty. Those of you with hypertension may need to take a step back with this one.

The white wine and tomato used in the velouté were definitely its most prominent flavors. Can’t forget the pleasant ‘jab to the throat’ left behind by the Chile de Árbol in its aftertaste.

The focaccia bread was close to the size of a brick. The top was slightly coated with thyme leaves and the bread itself joined the mussels as another worthy companion to the velouté.

The Dessert

whipped cream, apple, ice, cream
William Thomas

Dessert was mandatory. Not because of restaurant rules or anything, I just wasn’t pushed to my limit yet. 

I ordered the Apple Crisp- a fancier way of saying “apple pie in a gratin.” Though it lacked sugar and had no trace of cinnamon, it was surprisingly tasty.

The Art

coffee, beer, tea
William Thomas

In addition to its delicious food, Turtle + the Wolf gives you plenty to look at. They designate a large portion of their wall for the work of artist Tom Nussbaum.

Nussbaum's installation inside Turtle + the Wolf consists of pieces that are food related and depict the relationship between man and nature. They also provide pamphlets about the artwork as well as Nussbaum's business card, for those that are interested in purchasing his work.

Turtle + the Wolf is located at 622 Valley Road and they're open from 5pm to 10pm during the week. I would highly recommend stopping in to get a glimpse of the cool artwork and to stuff your face while doing so.