RIGHT HERE ON OUR DOORSTEP
As it becomes more difficult in these surreal times to travel to our ‘islands in the sun’ Turtle Bay succeeds in bringing a little piece of The Caribbean to the centre of Leeds.
For at Turtle Bay you can capture some of the flavours, tastes and ambience of these magical islands – and I for one should know, as with my other hat on as a travel writer and author I’ve visited most of these islands over the past decade.
The cuisine at Turtle Bay is an eclectic mix of Caribbean inspired dishes with a quirky twist that makes sure there’s something to please everyone whatever their dietary requirements or tastes.
Although it was a chilly evening we decided to sit outside to enjoy our cocktails. Cocktails, I might add are obligatory at Turtle Bay, they have some of the finest and of course the majority have rum as their main ingredient rum.
My colleague ordered her favourite cocktail, Expresso Martini but this was made with dark rum. She described it as a “perfect cocktail” with the rum a great option to the classic mix using vodka.
I decided on the Passion Rum Punch which came served in a metal goblet to keep it cool. Made with dark rum, passion fruit, orange, lemon and bitters I could really taste what is one of my favourite fruits – passion fruit.
After our cocktails we moved inside and I love the bright décor of Turtle Bay with its multicoloured seating, bright coloured walls and unusual layout. The restaurant adheres to all the government rules on social distancing etc including plastic screens at some tables – but yet the measures are not obtrusive.
For starters I chose the Garlic Pit Prawns. These were shell on very large king prawns in crushed chilli, garlic butter and served with grilled roti – a simple unleven bread cut very thin.
This was a very large portion of prawns and not overly spicy and absolute joy staff brought me a finger bowl without my having to ask.
My colleague went on our servers recommendation of Sweetcorn Fritters – a vegetarian option served with pink onions and mango mole. These were very spicy but delicious – crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The pink pickled onion made an excellent accompaniment.
For main course we decided to go for healthy options. My colleague chose the Halloumi Buddha Bowl a vegetarian option. These bowls are inspired by clean eating and contain a veritable feast of fruit, salad and vegetables. Fresh pineapple, watermelon, avocado, tomatoes, squash, rainbow beets, rocket, roasted red peppers & mushrooms, cucumber, chutney, pickled veg and steamed rice came with the Halloumi sticks. The rice was perfectly cooked and the Halloumi so tasty being tossed in Jerk gravy giving it an extra kick.
I decided to evoke memories of my favourite Caribbean Beach in Tobago and ordered a Beach Salad. The one I chose was the Avo Chilli Smash (Vegan). The presentation was beautiful but unfortunately the smashed avocado let it down. I am a great fan of smashed avocado but unfortunately this was runny like a liquidised sauce or baby food and I had to leave most of it.
The bara roti, pineapple and baby gem quarters were perfect but the dish was supposed to include pickled veg but I couldn’t find any at all.
As side dishes we ordered Spiced Watermelon, which I highly recommend, but sadly our Sweet Potato Fries were not very hot when they reached the table and within minutes they were positively cold and not edible.
Things brightened up with my choice of pudding. It was certainly my heaven on a plate. The Rum and Raisin Pudding is a traditional rum-soaked putting and is served with vanilla ice-cream. The pudding was hot and melted in my mouth with a great taste of rum.
My colleague was less lucky as both her choices of pudding were not available so she opted for the ice-cream which was creamy and smooth.
Turtle Bay is blessed with a great staff, they are friendly and courteous. Our server introduced himself at the beginning of the evening and nothing was too much trouble for him or his assistants.
So if you are looking to put a little sunshine into your life then a meal at Turtle Bay will certainly uplift your spirits – especially if you take advantage of their happy hour times or their bottomless brunch.
The restaurant is open: Sunday/Mon/Tues/Wed – 10.00am – 11.30pm; Thurs 10.00am-12.30am; Fri/Sat 10.00am-1.00pm
Turtle Bay 14 The Light, The Headrow, Leeds Reservations Phone 0113 242 6000 or visit www.turtlebay.co.uk