When we first found out that we were going to be reviewing Turtle Bay, my first thought was how happy Husband would be as he’s a HUGE fan of Caribbean food. My second thought was “will the kids cope with the spice?”. It has to be said, my kids aren’t total chilli wusses, BB has been asking for sriracha on her food since she was about 2 and Sausage copes with things like hot wings, so I figured we’d just see how they fared – besides, there was a kids menu to choose from.
The Turtle Bay we visited was in Chelmsford, just outside the High Chelmer Shopping Centre and in a nice location with an outdoor seating area. The first thing you notice about Turtle Bay is just how vibrant and beautifully styled the whole place is. From the bright colours that scream Jamaica to the wall of guitar amps and the reggae playing in the background, the restaurant felt themed in a way that managed to avoid the pantomime-y feel of other themed restaurants.
We did the usual ‘sit down, peruse the menu, give our drinks order’ and were informed that cocktails were currently 2 for 1, so mine and Sausage’s virgin cocktail orders meant we’d be brought two drinks each – quite a bonus and one to remember next time we’re out for dinner and I’m not driving!
While we were waiting for our food, we were given colouring stuff for the girls, but also a Connect4 game, which made the time between ordering our food and it arriving pass really quickly. Not only did we love the fact that the kids were catered for, we loved the implication that this wasn’t a place where kids had to be seen and not heard, that they were allowed to have fun and be kids.
BB ate from the kids menu, and her main arrived at the same time as our starters, which worked well as she’s a SLOOOOW eater! Serving it this way meant that by the time we’d eaten our starter and mains, she was just about finished too.
Caribbean Flavour at Turtle Bay
In terms of the food, here’s what we ordered:
I’m not going to bore you with a description of every single morsel of food that we ate (ALTHOUGH, the prawns I had for my starter were TO DIE FOR, and I said to husband that I could quite happily have eaten it ten times over), but every single one of us loved all of our dishes. The jerk chicken and ribs were SO beautifully seasoned and spiced, not so much that it blew your head off, but just enough to make you feel warm down to your flip flops. Husband’s curry goat and my ribs were so tender, the meat melted in your mouth and all of the desserts were perfect and sweet, after such a savoury meal.
The meal was, in fact, such a resounding success, that the whole family declared it the best place we’ve ever reviewed, and we’ve been to a LOT of restaurants in the last eight years! Unless you’ve got kids who are exceptionally fussy with what they eat, please don’t think you can’t eat as a family at Turtle Bay because there are plenty of dishes which cater for those with more delicate taste buds, and everyone else gets to enjoy the deep flavour of Jerk wonderfulness!
It would also be an amazing place for dinner and drinks with friends (not least of all because the cocktails are 2-for-1!), and the decor and atmosphere would really lend itself to relaxation and socialising. All in all (for three starters, three mains, a kids meal, four desserts, four virgin cocktails, two pints of Red Stripe and a soft drink) our meal would have cost £82.60, which I think is excellent value.
As we were leaving, the manager mentioned to us that a new Turtle Bay is going to be opening in Southend, which is even closer to us, and all I can say is, I really hope he’s correct!