Review: Turtle Bay’s grand opening

A dreary Monday afternoon was livened up when we were kindly invited to sample Turtle Bay’s food and drinks ahead of their official opening last week. Read on for our thoughts…

Atmosphere & Service

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Turtle Bay’s interior is artistically decorated with bright vibrant colours that entice your senses at every turn. Each section has a slightly different feel to it, transporting you from space to space. Upon your arrival, you will be entranced by the smell of spices mingling in the kitchen and the blast of reggaetón will make you want to dance your way to your seat. While any time of day will transport you to the Caribbean, I highly recommend going at night when the lights come on and the experience is heightened. 

The staff at Turtle Bay will keep you in a tropical mood as they serve you with great hospitality and service. They were highly attentive and keen to give us recommendations of what they enjoyed from the menu.

Whether you’re going for a meal with friends or looking for a great spot for date night, Turtle Bay will have you covered.

Food

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With such an extensive and varied menu, Turtle Bay is sure to offer something for everyone. From brunch options to Buddha bowls, comforting favourites to West Indian curries, we were spoilt for choice! Those with dietary requirements will be pleased to see an easily accessible allergen list and plenty of vegan dishes. I tried their Big Vegan Grill Down, a Caribbean take on a vegan full English. It was a well-balanced plate, with curried chickpeas, smashed avocado, roasted mushrooms and fresh roti. The highlight was the fried plantain; its sweetness cut through the fresh, spicy flavours perfectly. 

Emerson’s starters of crispy squid and okra were delicious and not too heavy as can sometimes be the case with breaded, fried dishes. In his Jerk Chicken main the smokey flavour really shone through and the chicken was grilled well, although even more scotch bonnet would have sealed the deal. Josie settled on the Trini Curry Chicken which was perfectly cooked and the delicate sauce, made from mango, coconut, thyme and chilli, was not too overpowering. Fresh coriander, sharp pickled onion and chargrilled tomatoes livened up the dish. We all tried the Coconut Buttermilk Fried Chicken, served with macaroni and cheese, which was a hearty, comforting meal. It was especially tasty with the jerk hot sauces which are available on every table! 

And if all that food wasn’t enough, we couldn’t say no to dessert! Emerson and I agreed the Sticky Ginger Pudding was delicious. Chunks of fresh ginger cut through the squidgy, molasses-y cake, creating a strongly flavoured dessert! Emerson’s addition of rum ice cream to the ginger cake provided a wonderfully creamy contrast to the hot pudding. The Banana Toffee Cheesecake was Josie’s choice; with a crumbly, buttery, biscuit base and a rich filling, this is definitely a dessert to order. 

Drinks

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My first experience at Turtle Bay was over a bottomless brunch in Newcastle last term. When I heard that a restaurant would be opening in Durham, I was delighted to return and sample more of the drinks that the ample menu offers. Although I was tempted by the Strawberry Daiquiri, the Tingaling and the Bahama Mama that I had enjoyed so much on my last visit, I opted for something new. 

The Passion Martini, made with white rum, passion fruit puree, vanilla and orange was refreshing on the palette, and very moreish for someone with a sweet tooth. It also comes with a shot of Prosecco on the side. I’m still not entirely sure of the etiquette regarding the Prosecco, whether you sip it or mix it into the cocktail, but I didn’t seem to receive any judgement for shooting it on the spot. The presentation of the cocktail was also beautiful and came with a piece of fresh passion fruit for some sour, citrusy relief from the sweetness of the drink.

Emerson, our resident rum lover, was impressed by how well-stocked the bar was. The rums on offer were authentically Caribbean and he was a particular fan of the Rum Reggae Punch. They also highly recommended getting the Angostura rum, which he deemed a steadfast contender for the most smooth and scrumptious liquor he’d ever sampled. Seeing as Nia had an afternoon lecture rapidly approaching, she opted for the virgin Raspberry Reggae. The mocktail’s raspberry flavour was potent, with subtle notes of lime to tease the taste buds. This is confirmation that Turtle Bay’s drinks are indeed delicious, even without reminiscing on them through rum-tinted glasses.

Overall, we would like to say a big thank you to Turtle Bay for hosting us. Given the tasty food and the slick service, we are looking forward to bringing our friends to what will surely become a new hotspot in Durham!

Images (from top): Lainey Lin; first row: and Lainey Lin; second row: Lainey Lin; third row: Josie Lockwood, and

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