When the invite to the launch of Turtle Bay in Peterborough landed in my inbox, I was curious to say the least. Carribean food is something I’ve never really dabbled in and having researched Turtle Bay, the menu full of choices I would never dream of trying. That said, I’m trying to be better at trying new things so on a very warm Wednesday evening, I headed into Queensgate with an empty belly ready for feeding.
Arriving at Turtle Bay early, I was given the chance to make use of having a good look around the restaurant. I adored the decor and environment they had managed to create. Everything was colourful and quirky and an atmosphere was easily created. Quite simply, it looked like a place that made you want to gather a group of friends, grab a table and settle down for the night. My mood was instantly lifted and I was excited for the night ahead.
After being joined by my fellow QBloggers Kat and Laura, we joined the ever-so-friendly staff at the bar for some drinks from the extensive menu before we enjoyed a short introduction to how Turtle Bay came to be. The founder visited the Carribean and was inspired by the beach bars, street food and general outlook. This is pretty much the restaurant in a nutshell! We also learnt all about their pride and joy – rum! While I’m not a rum drinker myself, even I was impressed that they had an incredible 40 different rums on offer.
It was then time for what we had all been waiting for – food! One of the lovely waitresses explained to me that during training, all the staff had sampled every dish on the menu so they knew it inside out. I think this was a great way to enable them to help customers with what they might want to try as the menu has a lot to offer. For the launch night, we were brought out a selection of Turtle Bay’s most popular dishes to try.
We started with the Just Jerk Platter which combined jerk wings, glazed pork ribs, jerk beef riblets, jamaican beef patty, sweet corn fritters, spiced popcorn and rocket. Since none of us had been to Turtle Bay before, this was a great chance for us to try a wide variety of what they had to offer. With enough for two to share, everything was cooked to perfection. I loved the addition of the spiced popcorn, it felt like a really unique dish compared to what I’d had before.
Next up was Turtle Bay’s famous Curry Goat. I’m a big meat eater so wasn’t put off by the use of goat meat, just interested in trying it. As I’d predicted, it tasted fairly similar to chicken. Slowly braised in curry spices, citrus and ginger, it’s a really hearty meal and easy to see why the dish is so popular. We also tried the jerk chicken, served with coconut rice ‘n’ peas which, admittedly proved a little hot for me personally! We finished off the night with a dessert plate full of goodies including fresh bbq pineapple, spiced rum and chocolate pot and brownie.
A couple of weeks later, I returned to Turtle Bay with my better half in tow. This time we were able to choose directly from the menu what we wanted. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of spice and it’s safe to say, Turtle Bay is all about the spice so that’s certainly worth bearing in mind. That said, the waiters were happy to adjust dishes to suit my taste so this was easy to get around for most dishes.
To start with, Matt chose jerk pit wings while I opted for the simpler choice of Garlic ‘N’ Herb flatbread. Having seen that the recipe included crushed chilli, I asked to have this removed. However what I didn’t realise was that the chilli was in the garlic button itself so what I was brought out was quite simply a plain flatbread with rocket. Oops. I was a little dismayed at first but it was still delicious and easily big enough to share between the two of us. With all of the jerk dishes you choose what type of glaze you want: classic, pineapple of coconut. Matt opted for pineapple and it gave his wings a completely new fruity flavour to what you might normally have. The portion size was really generous and we both liked that all starters were the same price of £5.10.
For our main course, Matt chose the Jammin Lamb Burger: a grilled lamb and mutton burger topped with salad and herb mayo. I love the uniqueness of the meals – the sweet bun even had a pineapple glaze! You can be safe in the knowledge that you won’t find similar offerings at any other high-street chain. I couldn’t resist the Kingston pulled pork toastie which is a great choice if you fancy something a little less heavy. It came filled with melted cheddar cheese and sweet red onion chutney, accompanied by cheesy jerk fries. The pulled pork was gorgeous and tender having been slow roasted, definitely something I’d go for again, perhaps even in burger form.
Matt insisted he was far too full for dessert – what a travesty! – but I always have room and having sampled the dark chocolate brownie on the launch night, I knew I’d be having the full portion. If you read my Carluccio’s review, you’ll remember I found their brownie cold and hard. Turtle Bay’s however, was another level. Warm and melt-in-the-mouth served with creamy vanilla ice cream, now that is how you do a brownie!
We left the restaurant with full bellies and Matt raving about how much he’d loved the meal. What struck me on both my visits to Turtle Bay was the infectious enthusiasm of all the staff. From the chef to the waiters and manager, they couldn’t do enough for you. That, paired with the incredible atmosphere and the original menu made for an experience that is bound to make you return again and again. Whether you’re after a night of cocktails with the girls, a family celebration or a meal for two, Turtle Bay will do it all with a smile.
*We were gifted our meal in exchange for this review. All opinions are 100% my own. You can read more on my disclaimer here.