Home LifestyleCareer A Conversation With the Local Resident Behind Montclair’s Turtle + the Wolf

A Conversation With the Local Resident Behind Montclair’s Turtle + the Wolf

by Alexa Martin
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Montclair attracts quite a crowd of residents who want a more suburban feel with easy access to the city while still being able to enjoy five-star and diverse dining experiences. Enter Turtle + the Wolf, a hot spot located on Valley Road and while it’s not a name that screams southern comfort, there is one particular southern dish on the menu that is well-known to anyone who has been before: Lo’s Famous Fried Chicken. Read on to learn more about this Montclair eatery and its owner Lauren Hirschberg, who has taken the town by storm.

lauren hirschberg turtle and the wolf montclair

About Turtle + the Wolf

Turtle + the Wolf is an American eatery with a modern setting that serves bistro fare. Its a la carte menu features dishes like beer tartare, fresh-shucked oysters, local burrata, ricotta meatballs, and other dishes. The full menu can be viewed here but it is subject to availability and change.

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The Ivy at Chatham

There are also a variety of family-style meals here that must be ordered in advance. We recommend the Lo’s Famous Fried Chicken dinner for two featuring ten pieces of fried chicken; a simple green salad with shallot vinaigrette, feta, + shaved radishes; baked BBQ beans; buttermilk biscuits; mashed potatoes; and Brussels sprouts coleslaw. Guests can also order fried chicken with various sides for more than two people for $45 per person. Other family-style meals here include a Whole Roasted Suckling Pig meal that feeds 6-7 guests, or a Whole Roasted Chicken meal.

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Just in case that doesn’t seem filling enough for you, adding the brioche doughnuts onto your order from their a la carte menu is *chefs kiss*.

We spoke with owner Lauren Hirschberg in 2021 about his journey in creating this popular spot with an even more popular menu and also indulged in some takeout of our own.

Read More: Egan + Sons: A Classic Irish Pub in Montclair

The Montclair Girl: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Did you grow up in the area?

Lauren Hirschberg: I grew up in Montclair and lived here all through my high school career. I followed the typical path of going to a traditional four-year college without a major in mind but found out that Syracuse had a hospitality program after being there for a bit.

MG: Did you always have an interest in the restaurant industry?

LH: I grew up in a household that entertained a lot and my mom cooked a lot so it was definitely of interest to me. Going out to restaurants was always interesting and exciting. In college, a buddy of mine came back from class in a chef’s coat which intrigued me so I went and talked to his teachers about a hospitality and nutrition program that Syracuse offered.

MG: What did your career look like before opening Turtle + the Wolf?

LH: After college, I moved back home and had a summer job at a local sushi restaurant as a prep cook. After that, I went down south and worked front of house at a resort restaurant. While I was there I decided I’d rather be cooking than working front of house so I made arrangements to come back to the area and did a 6-month program at the French Culinary Institute (now known as the International Culinary Center). I then took a job at Craft with Chef Tom Colicchio which turned into more than 12 years of working through various levels of responsibility.

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MG: Your menu has food that people crave + want to eat. What was the process like in selecting menu items and creating the voice of Turtle + the Wolf that people have now responded so well to?

LH: I cook things that I want to eat so I think the menu is reflective of dishes I’d make at home or aspire to make at home with family and friends. There’s not really a process but going to a classic French restaurant is one of my favorite things to do so I think there’s a lot of that which I lean into with cooking. There was also a barbeque competition I started doing about 10 years ago in the south that opened my eyes to a different part of the culinary landscape we live in. I grew up eating BBQ but it wasn’t true BBQ. On this trip we went to a particular restaurant and after a week of BBQ and drinking beer, we sat down and the chicken came piled on in the middle of the table with the sides all around and it brought so much joy to us. That’s where the kind of accidental love of fried chicken came from, with a simple and social meal.

turtle and the wolf

MG: Our personal favorite item on the menu is Lo’s Famous Fried Chicken. Where did the name come from for this dish?

LH: It’s one of my monikers. One general manager at a restaurant I was working in just started calling me Lo and it stuck. I never set out to name it Lo’s fried chicken, though. That was from a regular customer who texted me asking if she could get some of Lo’s Famous Fried Chicken.

See More: The Best Hoboken Restaurants to Take Your Parents to Eat

For more information about Turtle + the Wolf, visit the website and be sure to check out the Instagram page. 

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