Turtle Bay, Cheltenham Road: Review

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There are now almost 30 Turtle Bay restaurants across the UK – including two in Bristol. Broad Quay opened in early 2013, while the brand new restaurant on Cheltenham Road first opened its doors on July 8th, 2016.

Known for its Caribbean food and cocktails, Turtle Bay has its HQ here in Bristol, so the city’s close to the team’s heart. The new restaurant is in the former home of Plantation Caribbean Restaurant, and it’s bigger than it looks from the outside, holding up to 160 diners and drinkers at any one time.

Walk in and you’ll see the bar immediately ahead of you, covered in plenty of small lights to make it the centrepiece to the venue. There’s relatively loud reggae music being played through the speakers, and dimmer lighting (but still enough to see) in the main restaurant. Its chilled atmosphere is added to by the mismatched chairs and tables and vibrant colours – it’s a place with a great feel to it.

 

Turtle Bay Cheltenham Road - Interior

 

We were seated by our waitress Esme at a mismatched double table at the front of the restaurant – a comfortable bench seat on one side, plastic bucket seats on the other. A wooden tray with hot pepper sauce, jerk BBQ sauce and Bajan pepper sauce adorned the table, and we were pleased to have been asked straight away if we’d like a jug of water brought to our table.

We started the evening with drinks: with both of us off the alcohol for the night, we ordered two choices from the “Caribbean Softs” menu, each priced at £3.60. My watermelon crush was beautiful – the blend of fresh watermelon and ice looked like a Slush Puppie and was clearly sweetened, but had a fantastic fresh watermelon flavour and was really refreshing.

My sister opted for the homemade ginger beer, served in a large bottle – it was very effervescent, the fizz threatening to overflow once the bottle was opened! It had a fantastic ginger heat, and you could really taste the addition of cloves.

 

Turtle Bay Cheltenham Road - Drinks 1

 

To start, I ordered the sweet corn fritters (£5.10): a generous portion of four golden-brown balls of batter, packed full of sweet corn kernels, spring onions, fresh coriander and scotch bonnet chilli. We’d been warned that scotch bonnets were in season and therefore packing a punch, and these didn’t disappoint – they were lovely and fiery. The sweet corn flavour came through strongly, and the fritters themselves were beautiful: crisp on the outside and dense and chewy in the middle, without too much excess oil.

 

Turtle Bay Cheltenham Road - Sweetcorn Fritters

 

For my sister, the pulled pork salad (also £5.10), which combined pulled pork with rocket, butternut squash, mango, orange and coconut. She was surprised to see chunks of avocado included, as they weren’t mentioned on the menu, but they were a welcome addition. There was plenty of pork (in fact, the whole portion was generous), with the meat having plenty of flavour and a good amount of chilli heat. With the juiciness of the mango and orange and the crisp, fresh salad and coconut shavings, there was plenty of flavour, colour and texture – the only thing she wasn’t sure about was the strips of butternut squash, which could have benefited from some cooking.

 

 

Turtle Bay Cheltenham Road - Pulled Pork Salad

 

Her main course of double dipped steak (£14.95) was equally impressive. Her steak, ordered rare, was perfectly cooked, with a lovely charred flavour to the crust. The jerk marinade was incredibly spicy, and paired well with the tangy, herby green seasoning.

The onion chutney was incredible, as was the sweet potato mash – super creamy and indulgent, with plenty of spice. The coleslaw was…well, it was ok, nothing to shout about, but good for cooling the mouth down after the scotch bonnet hit.

 

Turtle Bay Cheltenham Road - Steak

 

For me, the goat burger (£12.50), which I ordered with sweet potato fries. More of the same coleslaw here, as well as a big chunk of sweet plantain, which was beautifully cooked. The sweet potato fries could have done with a little more seasoning, but were lovely and crisp.

The burger was enjoyable: a very dense burger with the distinctive flavour of the goat meat coming through strongly, even when slathered in a hot jerk marinade. I’d have preferred it a little less well done, but that’s all down to personal taste. The brioche bun held together well, and its sweetness worked well with the spicy filling.

 

Turtle Bay Cheltenham Road - Goat Burger

 

We also ambitiously ordered a side of the cheesy jerk fries (£2.40), as they’re unbelievable: packed full of jerk sauce and smothered in cheese, we’d definitely recommend ordering these next time you’re there.

 

Turtle Bay Cheltenham Road - Cheesy Jerk Fries

 

Instead of dessert (and because our mouths needed cooling down…) we decided to try two of the creamy drinks from the Caribbean Softs menu. My berry smoothy (£3.60 – fresh raspberries, condensed milk and cream) was incredible, the fresh raspberry flavour very summery, the richness of the condensed milk and cream giving it an ice-cream like flavour and texture. My sister was equally impressed with her coconut and pineapple punch (£3.60 – coconut, pineapple, condensed milk and cream) – a dessert-like drink that had all the great taste of a pina colada without the booze.

 

Turtle Bay Cheltenham Road - Drinks 2

 

Our waitress Esme was absolutely amazing: friendly, helpful and super-smiley – she really made the experience of dining at Turtle Bay a great one. While we’ve not been massively impressed with previous visits to the Broad Quay branch, our trip to this newer restaurant was an entirely different experience altogether. Recommended.

 

Please note: our meal was received free of charge, but this in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.

 

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