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The Stone Turtle

The Stone Turtle likes to add a sense

The Stone Turtle likes to add a sense of whimsy to classic dishes, hence this take on the chocolate fondue. (July 7, 2010) Credit: Craig Ruttle

The Stone Turtle starts slowly but usually gets where it wants to go. This is Gregory Baumel's stylish spin on the gastro-pub theme. It's a relaxed and upbeat eatery, where a clever chef plays with food.

Full of dark wood, exposed brick, plus a graffiti mural, the restaurant greets you in a hue that's a few shades lighter than the olive in your martini. The last line of the Beatles' "The End" punctuates the artwork and imagery; rock, Motown, Sinatra, the background sound. Baumel has a lively playlist - and, generally, plates to match.


THE BEST

The tuna Tartini is sashimi-grade yellowfin, with citrusy ponzu sauce, paired with avocado and sprouting waffle potato chips. It's good. So is a lobster-and-white-Cheddar quesadilla, flanked by guacamole and pico de gallo. Meaty, fried, panko-breaded crab cakes arrive with mango relish and pepper-spiked cream. Standout turkey potpie benefits from a buttery crust. Just as appealing: a thick, pan-roasted filet mignon, wrapped with applewood-smoked bacon, served on a round of polenta, with baby spinach and green-peppercorn sauce. Baumel sends out a juicy and tangy pulled-pork barbecue sandwich. There are ample contributions from the burger board, which in addition to the beef variety include turkey, salmon-and-crab, organic bison, and antelope from Broken Arrow Ranch, those last two a bit dry. Best sides are sweet-potato fries and onion rings. And try the walnut-fudge brownie with vanilla gelato. The dirty ashtray, an artfully arranged sundae, is an alternative. Fine beers on tap, Mighty Leaf teas, Lavazza espresso.


THE REST

"Screaming oysters" shriek from their sake-oyster sauce, which is overwhelmed by chili peppers. A quintet of burger shots, minis on crumbly pastry-puff rolls, is overcooked. Likewise, "kokonut kalamari." The grilled mango shrimp cocktail heatedly buries the taste of the shellfish. Paella with shellfish, smoked chicken and chorizo: dehydrated. The four-cheese-and-wild boar lasagna, watery and bland, makes you revere tradition. Banana-chocolate bread pudding tastes boozy and harsh.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Gastropublicans, unite.

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