Are you a Turtle?

February 7, 2008

By Ty Hall - This is not a restaurant review. I'm not qualified to write one. I love good food, and occasionally enjoy expensive food (not always the same thing).

Turtle Club Fairbanks

There is a restaurant on Havelock Avenue in Lincoln, Nebraska called Misty's. Located in the heart of the Husker Nation, its walls are covered with the jerseys and memorabilia of decades of college football lore. It's a warm and inviting place, and a favorite of visiting parents who "come down" to Lincoln for a game and to take their near-starving collegians out for a free meal. But there are many fine places to eat in Lincoln whose motif is devoted to the state football team. What makes Misty's special is prime rib. Nobody does it better.or at least I believed as much until a short drive out of Fairbanks on the Old Steese landed me in Fox, Alaska, at The Turtle Club.

There is a scene in a little-known Dana Carvey movie - The Master of Disguise - where he and his love interest infiltrate an upscale establishment called The Turtle Club. Being a master of disguise, and more idiot, Carvey dresses as a turtle.complete with an outrageously turtalian body shell. When asked by management to leave the club, Carvey's response is, "am I not turtle enough for the turtle club?" With a history steeped in rustic Alaska tradition, and a website boasting adherence to a turtle creed, the short drive to Fox found me asking the same question.

I don't like salad bars. I don't like salad much at all, but I particularly don't like it when preserved until serving underneath sneeze guards. Don't get me wrong.if you're going to put salad and assorted condiments on a table in the middle of the room, and invite people to "help yourself whenever you're ready" then by all means, put a layer of clear plastic between it and the hungry hordes. As long as people sneeze.and eat salads, I will be a sneeze guard advocate.

But as salad bars go, the Club's is a winner, and an obvious favorite of its patrons. I admitted to not being a food critic AND not enjoying salad under glass, but my observations are as follows; the lettuce was green, the olives were black, the croutons were bread-like, and there was a large container of sunflower seeds that didn't require shelling. All good things. And the "bar" itself didn't look like a park bench after a pigeon small feat considering the generous selection of salad dressings present.

My girlfriend loves the Club's escargot. It's basted in garlic butter and wine, and they serve it with tiny slices of French bread. I have to admit, this is a very nice appetizer. I generally don't care for French things, except for French fries, French poodles (with bows and painted paw nails) and Peter Sellers, but the Turtle Club can really toss a slug. When it comes to food sources that weasel within tree bark or under ground-lying loose wooden planks, I rank escargot at the top. Here, I have to go with the Emeril Lagasse school of cooking; throw enough garlic on something, and you got some good eats. Bam!

Once you've navigated the atchoo-free roughage and the sautéed mollusk, it's time to get serious and down to the business of eating meat. This is my wheelhouse. I grew up eating meat.mostly beef, and my body craves it. The Turtle Club serves prime rib in three sizes; the Foxy Cut (obviously for women.Alaska men don't do Foxy), the Turtle Cut (a safe choice for most men, and large enough to share with your woman who's still hungry from ordering the Foxy Cut), and the Miner's Cut (so big it is better described in terms of payload). It's hard to even joke about the prime's that good! Slow-cooked to perfection with bold seasoning, this is the best cut of rib you'll ever eat.

The wait staff is tenured and on their game. The cocktails actually contain alcohol. Everything is reasonably priced, and best of all, The Turtle Club gracefully and simultaneously serves the dressed up, the dressed down, and everyone in between.

So if you ever find yourself in Fox (you won't), in Fairbanks (you might) or anywhere in Alaska (you should), take a drive on the Old Steese and drop by Ken and Greta Lindley's Turtle Club.

Are you turtle enough for this Turtle Club? Leave the body shell at home!

Ty HallTy Hall was a vice-president with Lehman Bros mortgage capital division until the recent collapse within the industry.

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