Last month we attended the opening of Bristol's second Turtle Bay, on Cheltenham Road, just a stones throw from home. I've been to a Turtle Bay launch before in Leicester, and it was all about the party. We weren't disappointed on that front, it was a full house with live music, drinks flowing and everyone having a great time. Following the launch, we headed down there for dinner with friends Greg and Arushi. After a very long day and early start for me (off on my Happy Eggs farm visit) I was more than ready for my dinner!
To start, we all ordered different things – between us we ate Hot Hot Pepper Roti, Chilli Squid, Bridgetown Doubles and Jerk Pit Prawns. Everything came out quickly and was delicious. We all like heat so none of us minded the heat in the hot hot pepper roti: Trinidadian style roti stuffed with cheese, carrots, potatoes and onions which came with a scotch bonnet and herb mayo. The most expensive starter was mine – the jerk pit prawns (£5.95) which came with a herb chilli garlic butter and flatbread. They were good but a little on the charred side for me which many that their spicy marinade had a burnt taste to it.
The Bridgetown Doubles was unusual and possibly my favourite starter (sadly not mine though!): a play on Caribbean street food made up of a roti stuffed with curried chickpeas, cucumber chutney and topped with coconut shavings. We also had a side of Plantain in the middle – sweet and sticky, it was really good.
We'd already agreed that for our mains, we wanted to make sure someone had Jerk Chicken – turtle bay staple – and the Goat Curry. Arushi and Dave had these, leaving me and Greg to the Curry Pork Cheeks and BBQ Pork Belly. For meat and fish eaters, there is a whole world of choice but if you're a veggie or vegan, I'd suggest checking it out online before turning up as there are only a couple of choices.
It's hard to photograph stews and brown coloured food so if the pictures aren't making your mouth water, you'll just have to believe me when I say everything was really tasty. Dave's jerk chicken was delicious and authentic tasting. At £10.10 for a half chicken, it was great value because that was one hell of a big bird. The spice level was high and the meat was moist. My BBQ Pork Belly was nice but probably the weakest of the four mains. It was slow braised then grilled with a good slab of crackling on the side, but the green sauce was a little tasteless and the slaw was a bit dull. Arushi's goat curry was delicious too, something she'd been wanting to eat all day! The dumplings which came with it were not greasy at all (as I sometimes find they are) and the warmth from the scotch bonnets was perfect.
A big shout out to our waiter Blaise – he was attentive, knowledgeable on the menu and was loving life. He was very good at his job, whilst having a laugh and chatting with us he managed to up-sell on a round of drinks and pudding for two of us! Those puds were a Spiced Chocolate Pot and Caymanas Rum Cake. We were expecting a mousse-type consistency in the chocolate pot but it was far too firm so a bit disappointing. The coconut ice cream however, was amazing. The rum cake was delicious and reminded me of the flavours I tasted in the Bahamas.
Although I often talk about how I prefer the independents to the chains (now at over 30 restaurants UK wide), I do think Turtle Bay offers something unique. It's the only 'chain' serving good quality Caribbean food here and their 2-4-1 cocktails are hard to beat. They do something clever which is to combine a bar / party atmosphere with dining and for groups of friends, it's the perfect place for a casual night out.
Fancy trying Turtle Bay in Bristol? We visited their newest restaurant on Cheltenham Road which just opened last month but they have another one on Broad Quay right in the centre of town. Or, if you're elsewhere around the country, look up your local restaurant here.
*We were invited to dine at Turtle Bay, Cheltenham Road Bristol and did not pay for our meals. However, all opinions are (as always) my own*