Casual Dining

Restaurant Review: Turtle Bay, Queen St, Exeter (September 2018)


Dining Devon is about everything within the county borders of Devon (and outside too!) that involves food, eating, dining and nomming.  We always step-up to champion the mighty independents, but the dining scene in Exeter is a large and is made up of chain restaurants too.  We got invited over to one of Exeter’s busiest restaurants (purely from my observations), Turtle Bay, for a hosted meal at which they showed off some of their classic dishes, their cocktails and the friendly service.  This isn’t the first time Turtle Bay has appeared on the blog, read Lauren’s review when it first opened two years ago.

It is Anglicized Caribbean. Caribbean cuisine but adapted for the British palette, a sophisticated merger between two very different ends of the eating spectrum.  We were taken through the menu by General Manager, Radu, who clearly had a passion for his restaurant which he brought across throughout the evening as we chatted about the food and his love for what he does.

It isn’t a secret that cocktails and mixology is a massive food fashion at the moment.  Lots of chains are realising now that you can’t just rely on pre-mixed cocktails (thank God!).  Turtle Bay make their cocktails at their island tiki bar, decorated with vibrant colours for the authentic Caribbean feel.  Also – there is the happy hour,  two for one cocktails everyday!

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This little number is a Tingaling (Gin, Prosecco, elderflower, grapefruit crush). A+ for the name, and flavour too.  We came in a few weeks ago and had one of these as an aperitif whilst we were waiting for our bus home, I can’t remember much after that!

Our second imbibic lubrication was Koko Kolada (Koko Kanu coconut rum, dark rum, coconut milk, pineapple juice) which was a coconutty, rummy juicy thing which went down very well.  But our definite favourite was that Tingaling!

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So, we’re armed with a couple of cocktails, how about some food? Radu our manager recommended a few things, but the one thing that stood out for me was the Crispy Squid (Panko coated squid, mango mole, jerk mayo) £5.80 – I’ve had crispy squid before and it hasn’t been a great experience so I was intrigued to see how Turtle Bay matched up.

The meat was succulent, it wasn’t rubbery, the batter was light, I was impressed.  As with most starters, you just want MORE, it didn’t feel like quite enough but then this is my general problem with starters, sometimes they are actually nicer than the main.

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Tori went for the Crispy Okra (Panko coated okra, mango mole, jerk mayo) £5.30 which was very nice.  Okra reminds me of Asparagus in many ways except it was less intense in flavour.

Turtle Bay do good things with their main courses.  When I write about Caribbean cuisine I tend to refer to it as soulful food, it leaves you with a warm satisfied fuzz.  And, yes I know it sounds incredibly cliched, but Turtle Bay does soulful food.

As further taster we ordered some Crumbed Halloumi £2.90 because, well, Halloumi…what other reason would you need?

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I couldn’t resist going for the Goat Curry or on the menu it is called ‘Our Goat Curry’ (Rich and spicy curry, coconut rice ‘n’ peas, sweet plantain, dumplings)- I’ve never had Goat before and I’d been listening to something on Radio 4 about how Goat was an underrated type of meat.

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To me, Goat tastes like very lean lamb, but with a slightly stronger flavour.  My first time with Goat curry isn’t going to be my last, and I am glad I lost my Goat Curry virginity to this particular one, as the meat was tender, the ingredients were fresh and the spices were punchy and welcoming.

Tori went for the Brown Chicken (Tomato, allspice, thyme, scotch bonnet, ginger, coconut rice ‘n’ peas, dumplings) which was, again, punchy and fresh.  Less spicy than the Goat Curry, but no less soulful.

We had no more room for dessert – but we definitely had more room for a sneaky rum before we left.  This was Radu’s favourite, but he didn’t tell us what it was.  This will be revealed the next time we return (I hope?).

Turtle Bay

Go for the soulful food, the friendly service and the cocktails.  If you’ve never tried Goat before, then do it, expand your horizons and don’t immediately have a burger (you can go to GBK for that…) try something you’ve never tried before.

The interior is funky, colourful and vibrant, the atmosphere is fun and book in advance.

www.turtlebay.co.uk

Recommended
DISCLAIMER: We were hosted by Turtle Bay, who paid for the meal.  This has no bearing on our opinions, which remain independent of the restaurant.

 

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