A Caribbean Christmas? I know what you’re thinking, it can’t possibly be as good as traditional mulled wine, turkey with all the trimmings, a booze filled pud and eating your own body weight in pigs in blankets.
It’s certainly not the same, I’ll give you that. But it’s bloody good.
We were invited along to Turtle Bay Newcastle to sample their Caribbean Christmas menu. I’ll be honest, regardless of if Turtle Bay put a festive twist on their traditional Jamaican food, this is a cracking venue for a works night out, family gathering or party over the yuletide period.
Why? The atmosphere is vibrant and energetic, upbeat Caribbean music weaving throughout the people and has some of the most amazing cocktails. It’s just generally a place that makes you happy.
But their festive take on Caribbean food is also incredible, so there’s now even more reason to get booking.
The menu is four courses for £24.00 and pretty cracking value when you see the portion sizes.
On arrival, you’ll be served a small platter per person of traditional nibbles including Pork Rinds, Trini Chickpeas and Garlic and Herb Flatbreads.
I’ll clarify that their rinds are absolutely nothing like pork scratchings. I don’t appreciate a scratching unfortunately, however the Turtle Bay pork rinds are like a big, thick, beefy quaver with a smoky dusting of jerk seasoning. They’re light and not at all sickening.
The Trini chickpeas are baked and dusted with spice. I recommend a drizzling of Aunt May’s Bajan Pepper Sauce over these crispy numbers, it works perfectly together.
The garlic and herb flatbread is also tasty, with a strong flavour and plenty of seasoning. Once again, it’s delicious with a dash of Bajan Pepper Sauce too, but is there anything that doesn’t work with Aunt May’s magic?
It’s enough to be your starter, especially when you wolf it down like we did… It’s too good!
But you haven’t even began yet. For the first course, I chose the Duck Rolls. It intrigued me, and rightly so. It was certainly an unusual choice. It had an essence of the Asian delicacy but with a Jamaican kick. I don’t feel like I’m describing this to do it justice, sounds really wrong doesn’t it? It wasn’t, trust me.
Slow roasted duck teamed with soy sauce, orange chutney, sweet onion and chilli, it had a sweet and sour element but one that didn’t overpower the taste of the meet and ended with a some heat from the chillies.
If you like being adventurous, this one is definitely worth a try.
If you don’t, try the Sweetcorn Fritters. Dan went for this dish as his starter and it was one of our favourite parts of the meal. I’d tried these before so I knew they were good, I had just forgotten how good.
Sweetcorn, spring onion and scotch bonnet almost bhaji type fritters are crisp with a soft and flavourful middle. Don’t pay too much attention to the scotch bonnet, they’re not overly hot. It’s just enough to balance out the sweetness of the corn.
Onto the main event, I went for the traditional Goat Curry with coconut rice and Johnnycakes (essentially deep fried balls of bread – naughty, but so nice).
The curried goat was soft and tender, but I’ll admit it’s probably an acquired taste. The curry itself has a strong, unique flavour that is complimented so well by the coconut rice. But it’s certainly not for everyone. If it is your cup of tea, you’ll love it. Break up those fried balls of dough and soak them in your curry for extra flavour. Trust me.
Dan went for another tradition Jamaican dish, the Jerk Chicken. The half chicken was served with coconut rice and Caribbean Slaw. You can choose from two marinades, the Classic which is the original spicy jerk glaze, or the Coconut which still packs some heat but much more sweet and mild. Dan chose the Classic and loved it.
The chicken fell off the bone and the glaze was incredibly moreish. Highly recommend that Turtle Bay special slaw too, gently cools the spicy jerk with every mouthful.
Whilst we were both ridiculously stuffed, we soldiered on to dessert. I had chosen the Caymanas Upside Down Rum Cake and Dan opted for the Black Treacle Toffee Pudding.
Both, admittedly, were scrumptious. The first bite of the rum cake was overpowering. There’s definitely rum in there. But once you get over that, it’s light, soft and tastebud heaven. For those who like something slightly more rich, definitely follow Dan’s footsteps with the toffee pudding.
We had an amazing evening at Turtle Bay’s Caribbean Christmas, complete with crackers and festive hats! The staff need a shout out too for doing everything they could, and being generally lovely.
Before I go, I’ll talk about drinks. I’ve tried too many of the Turtle Bay cocktails, and every single one has been punchy, refreshing and delightful. There’s something for everyone, and the staff are more than happy to recommend if you let them know what you like. If you’re driving (shame on you), all of the cocktails can be made without the alcohol element. The Jumbled Julep tastes exactly like Um Bongo…
Where have you booked for your Christmas events? There’s some amazing places offering fantastic festive fetes, drop me a tweet @ProperScrummy to let me know your plans!
Lots of love, LB x