Are you Turtley Enough for the Turtle Club?

Photo from Marko Djapic

The less time I have for my reviews, the harder it is for me to get away from the immediate gravity of the Stevens campus. This week showcases that struggle, when in my hectic search to find a restaurant to review at 10 on a Wednesday night, I found a place whose name alone was enough to pull me in; The Turtle Club, on Park and 10th.

Whether you’re just a huge fan of Master of Disguise or your aesthetic is 18th-century old boys, the Turtle Club delivers atmospherically on quite a few levels. The interior is incredibly intimate, with real candle lighting, tufted burgundy leather seating, and penny-layered tables; if the waiter wasn’t in jeans I’d honestly have felt embarrassed for showing up in the outfit I had. On top of that, the history of the club permeates everything, from a small introduction on the menu to a three-panel story above the urinals about 80-year-olds tanking margaritas while eating turtle steak. On the off chance this place doesn’t scream epicurean pleasure to you, take note Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton frequented this club when it was originally founded, by none other than… JOHN STEVENS. That’s right, going here is now part of your Stevens education.

After reveling in the setting of the place, I got down to looking at the menu. As I had expected, the Club is mostly a bar, but their menu wasn’t that shabby. For a 12-year-old, however, I came on the worst night; Mondays and Tuesdays both have food specials, while Wednesdays mark the start of the weekend with an endless happy hour. Regardless, my friends and I had to try the clams (“Top Neck”) as our appetizer. After that, I got the bacon wrapped beef dogs, while my mates got the baked chicken breast and the RD Burger.

The clams came out almost instantly. As someone who has never had raw clams before, I was incredibly pleased with the result. Their smell reminded me of something Dickens would describe in a joke, but after adding the balsamic onion vinaigrette and their horseradish cocktail sauce with lemon, I was sorely disappointed we only got a half dozen. The fishiness of the clam formed the perfect base for the other flavors to kick off of, and I think next time, I might just order a whole dozen for myself.

After surreptitiously finishing the cocktail sauce with my fork (I know, you can’t bring me anywhere), the main courses came out. Suffice it to say that I was blown away by the beef dogs. While I’m not usually a food snob, hot dogs are one of the few things I allow myself to be particular over; I grew up on a very nice Polish butcher’s hot dogs, and they’re still my standard. These dogs reminded me strongly of those, with their soft, savory skins that lead into a refreshing interior that was clearly devoid of any harsh salts or nitrates.  Combo-ing on top of the dog, the bun was slightly sweet and nicely toasted, giving the bite a filling presence once it was all chewed together. The highlights, however, were the bacon and cheese. The bacon was incredibly crispy and just the perfect amount of salty that it compensated for the dog and the bun, while the cheese provided a warm blanket of gooeyness that resolved in a resounding kick to the back of your tongue; it let you know the Turtle Club always saves the best for last. I highly recommend it, as well as the burger and chicken.

The Turtle Club is your fanciest casual locale perfect for intimate dates, outings with siblings, or just kicking back on a Wednesday. While the food is slightly more expensive then what you could get elsewhere, there are enough cheap options on the menu even for college students. If money really is an issue, go on a Monday or Tuesday for the food specials. Be sure to wear your best Turrrrrtle suit when you go.

 

Location 4/5

Service 4.5/5

Food 4.5/5

Price $$/$$$$