Guess which lucky devil got an invite to the exclusive preview of the new Turtle Bay in Middlesbrough?
That’s right, me! How did you know?
Most likely because I haven’t shut up about it. So, on Wednesday 19th, a selection of North East’s bloggers, PR people and lucky so and so’s were invited to try the new menu before Turtle Bay Middlesbrough officially opens on 23rd April.
Turtle Bay is a restaurant and bar that offers a taste of the Caribbean. There are quite an extensive list of towns and cities across the UK that can boast of having the presence of a Turtle Bay venue, the latest being The Boro.
The chain emphasises their passion for unique, bold flavours and the social dining experience at the heart of Caribbean culture. The atmosphere is exciting, but relaxed at the same time. The mild buzz of friends talking and laughing amongst chilled reggae music, all whilst sipping some of the most delightful rum cocktails, gives you those exotic feels.
The decor inside is much as I expected, hand drawn murals, reclaimed wood and dim lighting. There’s quite an obvious split to the bar and restaurant, the biggest divider being the island hut themed bar in the middle. I imagine the split isn’t too defined during lunch, but as the night draws on and there’s many night-outers taking advantage of the 2-4-1 cocktails, it’s obvious diners won’t be disturbed by the revellers.
Turtle Bay offers a huge range of rums which also make the basis for their wonderful array of cocktails. The Reggae Rum Punch seemed a very popular choice, and rightly so – sweet and fruity! Made with 63% Wray and Nephew rum, not that you would think it. It’s smooth and moreish.
If you’re not feeling boozy, the friendly bartenders at Turtle Bay offer a range of Caribbean Softs. My favourite was most definitely the Green Bottle, a cool and fresh mix of elderflower, lime and cucumber, which I believe is a brand new addition to the Turtle Bay menu.
Moving onto the scran! To start we had two platters, The Vital Veggie Platter and Just Jerk. Despite my undying love for all things meat, the veggie platter was incredible. The vegetarian number included nibbles of sweetcorn fritters, crispy okra, grilled mushrooms and peppers as well as pepper roti and super green salad. All of which were seasoned well and had that hint of jerk spice throughout. My favourite however, was this delightful little chickpea combination. It was called Trini Doubles with Spiced Curried Chickpeas – almost like a soft poppadom topped with a spicy mushy peas. I know, it sounds barmy. But that’s the only way I can describe it to someone who has yet to try the food of the island. I’d recommend this, to not only veggies but to anyone.
The Just Jerk platter was just as impressive. It included wings, ribs (pork and beef!), beef patties and jerk popcorn. The star of the show just had to be the beef ribs. Despite being a complete carnivore, ribs aren’t something I’d ever order off a menu. When I think of them, I think of chewy, hard and fatty meat. And I don’t associate them with beef either, just pork – which isn’t my favourite. But… I’m converted! The beef ribs just fell off the bone. Beautifully cooked and had quite a sweet taste to them. I’m going back to Turtle Bay if only for these beauties!
We were then treated to two samples of their newest curry dishes. The vegetarian option was spinach, aubergine and sweet potato. It was really tasty, with a proper good kick! But i felt like something was missing.
The food did not end there, not even close! Next was a whole jerk chicken. Unfortunately not per person, although I most definitely could have finished it. These guys just know how to cook meat well. The chicken was soft and moist and rubbed with those sweet and spicy Caribbean flavours. If you don’t like spice, don’t be put off by jerk seasoning. Whilst it does have that wonderful little punch, it’s balanced out nicely with a very sweet, fragrant taste.
Did I mention, the chicken was accompanied by rice, the most crisp sweet potato fries and watermelon chow. What on earth is watermelon chow I hear you ask? The most simple yet extraordinary side dish I’ve tasted. Watermelon slightly spiced with jerk and sprinkled with coriander. Shouldn’t work, I know. But please try it! A welcome palate cleanser that is fresh and flavoursome. (Goes amazing with those ribs too, trust me!)
Next up, the wonderful chefs paid homage to the Teesside region. A one off, brilliant touch just for us – a Caribbean jerk parmo. I kid you not! It was such a treat, and a cracking twist on one of my favourite dishes.
By this point I was knee deep in a food coma, as you can imagine. But out they brought the desserts. We had a mouth watering assortment of banoffee cheesecake, dark chocolate brownies, rum and raisin bread pudding and BBQ pineapple. I had to have a mouthful of each, apart from the banoffee. You all know my feelings on bananas, but the other dinners were very much impressed! Everything I tried was scrumptious, but I absolutely must shout and scream about the Passion Pie. I love citrus, tangy flavours and this was right up my street. Like a lemon meringue pie but laden with those fresh flavours of passionfruit. It was incredible.
I asked if I could take some home, but I think the waitress thought I was joking…
Feeling like a moose, I headed home happy. I can’t thank the team at Turtle Bay enough for such a cracking night. The food, the atmosphere, the people. I urge you to try it, even if only for a cocktail or two, just experience the environment.
I’ll most definitely be back, if I haven’t already relocated to Jamaica.
Oh, last thing! If you like heat, try this number with your food when you go. Apparently they import it in, you can’t get this stuff anywhere else. If my bag wasn’t as small, I’d of definitely smuggled some out…
I’m joking! Honestly, I am. Please let me back in.
Let me know what you think, or if you went to the preview evening, I’d love to hear about your experience! Tweet me @ProperScrummy!
Lots of love, LB x
P.S. Big shout out to Maya and the team from Siobhan Hanley Communications for looking after me so well and hosting a cracking evening! You guys are ace.