Saturday, 19 November 2016
Turtle Bay, Leamington Spa
It's been some time since I visited Turtle Bay. We have one on John Bright Street in Birmingham, which is always crazy busy. I ate there when it was new, about three years ago, and I've been in for a drink once or twice. What stands out in my mind was the prawns I had as a starter, so I was excited to try them again when I was invited to the Leamington Spa branch.
Edd and I visited on a rainy Sunday afternoon. The atmosphere was very different to what I am used to in the evenings. Much more relaxed, but there were still plenty of groups in there enjoying their lunch. We sat in a raised area, sweetly decorated to look like a Caribbean terrace, with ceiling fans over head and the wood painted white. It was almost like being somewhere warm!
Turtle Bay have a large list of Tiki-style, fruit and rum-based cocktails which are very popular. I wasn't drinking that day so I thought I'd look at the mocktails. I don't usually go for a mocktail, generally choosing sparkling water or iced tea if I'm not drinking, but Turtle Bay's 'Caribbean Softs' (All £3.60) looked refreshing and appealing.
I chose a Passion Fruit Cooler first. Made with fresh passion fruit, orange and ice, this was lighter and more refreshing than I'd expected. It was rather sweet, but went perfectly with the food.
Edd initially asked for Ginger Beer but was informed that they'd run out of fresh ginger. This was disappointing but it was great to hear that the Ginger Beer is fresh- definitely one to choose next time.
Instead he chose home-made Limeade, which arrived in a large bottle and lasted him through the meal- a good choice. It was sharp and not too sweet.
We perused the menu while sipping on our drinks. It's a large menu with influences from across the Caribbean. It's certainly been anglicised- pulled pork bun, mango and goats cheese salad etc- but that's not something I'm opposed to, as long as it tastes good. There's the usual Jerk chicken that you would expect, but also some fabulous one pots. More on that later.
As well as starters and mains, there were some nice-sounding lunch bits, like wraps and toasties. However, I was pretty keen on having those prawns that I remembered so well.
So, my starter was Jerk Pit Prawns (£5.95). Shell-on prawns, marinaded in a herb, chilli and garlic butter and BBQ'd, plus a flatbread to mop the yummy sauce up. If you adore king prawns with the shell on like I do, you will love this dish. The prawns take on a wonderful charred taste from the bbq and the butter marinade compliments this perfectly. I could handle a little more chilli, but it wasn't missing out. A little more flatbread would be nice. I liked the addition of the lime wedge to squeeze over.
Edd, meanwhile, chose Island Bait (£5.10). As ever with whitebait, it was a generous portion. Lots of little fishes in a slightly spiced batter, fried and served with lime and coriander mayo. I always find a dish of whitebait a great treat and these were good. We thought it would be better to have the mayo in a separate pot.
When I visited previously, I'd gone for Jerk Chicken, which was good but couldn't match street food chicken, hacked up with a big cleaver, eaten out of a polystyrene box sitting on a step in the summer. So I thought I'd have something a bit different, from their One Pots section. There's lots of delicious looking meals there, such as Trinidad Curry Chicken and Curry Pork Cheeks. The one that stood out to me was Curry, Shrimp and Mango (£9.95). Yes, double prawn. I love prawns.
This was a charming, colourful, steaming pot of food. King prawns, mango and sweet potato were cooked in a spicy garlic and ginger curry sauce and served alongside rice. I loved the little surprises I found along the way, such as fresh coconut and gloriously sweet onion chutney.
Plus this lovely shell-on king prawn which had soaked up all the tasty flavour.
More bread again though, please.
Edd went for the Goat Burger (£12.50). Lightly spiced minced goat and a bit of lamb were in the burger, alongside sweet onion chutney. The Jerk Pit items can be served with rice and peas, sweet potato mash, sweet potato fries, spiced fries or salad. It seemed only right to go for sweet potato fries.
This was a good, meaty burger. The goat added something a bit different and the bun was soft and a little sweet.
Over the main course, I chose a second soft drink: Watermelon Crush. This was lovely; basically a fresh watermelon slushie.
We both really enjoyed our lunch at Turtle Bay and were impressed by the friendly service and tasty food. Go for a fun evening, but don't rule out a relaxed lunch.
Turtle Bay, Leamington Spa
Photos by Helen and Edd
Food and drink were complimentary for review purposes.