10 tasty things to try at Turtle Bay, Cardiff

Turtle Bay, Cardiff
Cardiff has been treated to yet another exciting new restaurant opening in the form of Caribbean chain, Turtle Bay.

Having spent a few months in Jamaica last year, I’m particularly excited about the arrival of Turtle Bay. The rumours about it opening in Cardiff have teased me for months, so I’m delighted to see the restaurant finally open its doors.

Turtle Bay Cardiff officially opened on Friday 11th December, but I attended a preview event on Tuesday 8th December, followed by the launch party on Thursday 10th December. Since then I’ve been back two more times – that’s four visits in just over two weeks – so, as you can probably tell, this restaurant definitely gets my seal of approval!

About Turtle Bay

Co-founded in 2010 by Ajith Jayawickrema (co-founder of Latin American restaurant chain, Las Iguanas) and Stephen Entwistle, Turtle Bay is a Caribbean restaurant concept with 25 locations throughout the UK. The idea behind Turtle Bay came about because Aj and Stephen wanted to bring a new restaurant concept to the UK high street and noticed an absence of Caribbean restaurants. After spending time travelling the Caribbean and sampling different dishes, they set up a restaurant featuring an informal beach atmosphere, serving authentic Caribbean cuisine.

Inside, the Cardiff restaurant is fashioned from up-cycled materials, with the roof over the bar made from wooden closet doors, the sinks in the toilets made from rubber car tyres and flattened jerk oil cans and reggae music event posters covering the walls and the roof. Reggae music plays at a medium volume – not too loud, but louder than the music in most restaurants. The atmosphere definitely reminds me of being in the Caribbean.

The menu

The menu offers a variety of Caribbean dishes, although there is a big focus on Jamaican cuisine. The restaurant even has a Jerk Centre, featuring a robata grill to mimic the effect of a traditional jerk pit by slowly grilling the meat over charcoal until the juices drip out, creating smoke to enhance flavour.

Where drinks are concerned, the menu features over 40 different rums from across the Caribbean and diners can choose from a variety of cocktails, wines, regional beers (like Red Stripe and Turtle Bay’s very own Jamaican pale ale) and spirits.

However, there are some popular Caribbean foods missing from the menu like callaloo (a.k.a. amaranth, like spinach and popular throughout the Caribbean – click here for my recipe), fried chicken (I ate more of this than anything else whilst in Jamaica, especially from Seaview Bar and Grill, Negril) and ackee and salt fish (widely regarded as Jamaica’s national dish).

Now, in no particular order, here are 10 tasty things to try at Turtle Bay, Cardiff:

  1. Beef patty (£4.95)Jamaican beef pattyA traditonal Jamaican street food snack, patties are authentic pastries with a flaky shell, tinted yellow by egg yolk or turmeric. They are available in a range of flavours including beef, chicken, prawn and more – my favourite is a beef and cheese patty.Served ‘street style’ in a brown paper bag, this looks pretty authentic, lettuce leaf and herb mayo aside. Inside, it’s filled with ground beef spiced with scotch bonnet pepper, making for a tasty starter or light lunch.
  2. Jerk chicken wings (4.95)Jerk chicken wingsMarinated for 24 hours in a blend of scotch bonnet chillies, scallions, onions, thyme, all spice and other seasonings, Turtle Bay’s jerk chicken is grilled on a robata grill until the skin becomes caramelised and slightly crispy, whilst the meat remains tender and succulent.The chicken wings are served with a sour orange chutney, although personally I like to eat jerk with a spicy dipping sauce. Luckily, we have a selection of hot sauces to choose from on our table, like Aunt May’s Bajan Pepper sauce from Barbados and Encona Jamaican Jerk sauce. I’m really impressed with Turtle Bay’s jerk chicken and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again.To find out more about jerk chicken, check out my  previous review of Pushcart restaurant in Negril, Jamaica.
  3. Beach food platter (£12.95)Turtle Bay platter of snacks
    If you can’t decide what to order for your starter or you’re with a large group of people, the beach food platter is the way to go. For just £12.95, you get a mouthwatering selection of spicy jerk chicken wings, pepper roti bread, sweetcorn fritters and garlic n’ herb flatbreads.The pepper roti is a Trinidad-style spicy, soft oven-baked bread stuffed with shredded cheese, carrots, potatoes, onions and scotch bonnet, whilst the stonebaked garlic n’ herb flatbreads are more on the crispy side. Meanwhile, the sweetcorn fritters are filled with spring onion, coriander, scotch bonnet pepper and sweetcorn mixed together with a dash of West Indian hot sauce.
  4. Curry goat (£9.70)

    Goat curry, rice and peas, dumpling and roti breadThis was my first time with goat; despite visiting Jamaica last year I’m ashamed to admit that I never got round to trying it over there, although curry goat was available in most restaurants.Turtle Bay’s curry goat is cooked in spices, scotch bonnet, sweet potatoes, citrus juice and ginger, served with a choice of sweet onion chutney and Caribbean dumplings. The goat is so tender it just falls apart in my mouth, and it doesn’t taste too different from beef, just with a plainer taste. This is a pretty spicy curry, so I wouldn’t recommend ordering it unless you’re into spicy food.The rice and peas are well-flavoured and the portion size is ample. However, in my experience traditional Caribbean ‘festival’ dumplings have a sweet taste created by the use of vanilla essence and sugar, whereas Turtle Bay’s dumplings have a savoury flavour.
  5. Trinidad curry chicken (£9.70)Trinidad chicken curry
    Although many of the dishes on Turtle Bay’s menu originate from Jamaica, others have their roots elsewhere in the Caribbean. The Trinidad chicken curry consists of chunks of chicken breast (I suspect this is cooked on the bone) mixed with spices, garlic and scotch bonnet in a coconut milk sauce, topped with fresh mango and coconut.This has a deliciously creamy taste. The scotch bonnet gives the curry an added kick, but the coconut milk prevents it from being too spicy.
  6. Mo Bay chicken (£9.95)Mo Bay chickenNamed after Montego Bay, the capital of St. James parish on Jamaica’s north coast, Mo Bay Chicken contains sliced chicken in a  creamy spiced jerk sauce, with onions and sweet plantain (which closely resemble bananas), accompanied by a dressed salad as opposed to the usual slaw.The sauce is rich and creamy, with a strong jerk flavour. However, I don’t remember this being a traditional dish when I visited Montego Bay so perhaps this is one of Turtle Bay’s own concoctions.
  7. Whole jerk chicken (£16.50)Whole jerk chicken with rice and peas and slawWhat’s better than jerk chicken wings? A whole jerk chicken, of course! Although, if you can’t quite manage a whole one, you can order half for just £10.All of Turtle Bay’s one pot dishes are served with Caribbean slaw and a choice of rice and peas, sweet potato mash, sweet potato fries, spiced fries or a beach salad.

    If you’re a big jerk fan, why not give my recipe for jerk chicken a go?

  8. Caymanas Rum Cake £4.85)Caymanas rum cakeRound off your meal with the Caymanas rum cake, a moist, golden sponge infused with rum, served with rum caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.At first I was unsure of whether I’d like this because I’m not really into rum, but it’s actually really good. You can definitely taste the rum in both the sponge and the sauce, but it’s not too overpowering. As for the sauce, I just can’t get enough of it – salted caramel and rum are a match made in foodie heaven!
  9. Rum and raisin bread and butter pudding (£4.85)Rum and raisin bread and butter puddingIn a twist on the traditional British dessert, Turtle Bay’s rum and raisin bread and butter pudding is slow-baked with dark rum, cinnamon, whole raisins and brown sugar, served with vanilla ice cream.I find bread and butter pudding to be quite bland and boring, but the rum certainly helps to liven things up in  this Caribbean version.
  10. Caribbean Pimms cocktail (£6.95 or 2-for-1 at happy hour – until 7pm & from 10pm – 1.30am daily)Caribbean PimmsTo wash all that food down, tuck into a tasty Caribbean cocktail. The bar stocks over 40 kinds of rum, including a 63% proof variety.The Caribbean Pimms cocktail is made using fresh mint leaves, strawberries, cucumber, lime, ginger, orange and passion fruit. Refreshing and fruity, it tastes like a traditional Pimms cocktail but the addition of lime, ginger and passion fruit makes for a zesty twist.

    Turtle Bay Cardiff
    Hodge House
    114-116 St. Mary Street
    Cardiff
    CF10 1DY
    (029) 2034 2006
    www.turtlebay.co.uk 

    Did you enjoy my review of Turtle Bay? Click here to see restaurants I’ve reviewed in Jamaica.

I was invited to Turtle Bay as a guest on two occasions where I received complimentary food and drink, but I was not obliged to write a positive review of my experiences. I have since returned to the restaurant twice as an anonymous, paying guest. 

Follow:

32 Comments

  1. December 23, 2015 / 7:37 pm

    The food looks lovely, I really enjoy Caribbean food – it’s so yummy! x

    • December 27, 2015 / 1:41 am

      It tasted even better 😀 I love Caribbean food too.

  2. December 23, 2015 / 8:21 pm

    I thin I’d love some of these dishes. Particularly the whole jerk chicken. I once ate half a chicken just by myself when I was around twelve.

    • December 27, 2015 / 1:37 am

      Hehe, that sounds like something that I’d do for sure! The whole jerk chicken was fairly large and meaty, I don’t know if I could have eaten it all myself (but I would happily try!)

  3. Alexander
    December 23, 2015 / 10:59 pm

    Man I wish I could try one of these ten! Also I really love your logo 🙂

    • December 27, 2015 / 1:40 am

      Aww thanks, I actually just commented on one of your blog posts a few minutes ago and I really liked your logo too 🙂

  4. December 23, 2015 / 11:07 pm

    I would like to try the Pimms first and then the puddings! 🙂

    • December 27, 2015 / 1:40 am

      The Pimms was so tasty and refreshing, loved it! It’s difficult to find room for pudding after eating starters and mains, but Turtle Bay have such a tempting dessert menu.

  5. December 24, 2015 / 1:00 am

    These dishes lookas delicious. I would love to taste them.

    • December 27, 2015 / 1:34 am

      definitely recommend a trip to your nearest Turtle Bay 🙂

  6. December 24, 2015 / 1:35 am

    Ooh so many delicious places to try. Chicken wings are my absolute fave! xxx

    • December 27, 2015 / 1:34 am

      They were delicious. Mmm, making me hungry just the thought of it.

  7. December 24, 2015 / 8:55 am

    The bread and butter pudding sounds good. What are their veggie choices like as I am a vegetarian? Glad you enjoyed it.

    • December 27, 2015 / 1:34 am

      The veggie choices are quite limited unfortunately… I think there were only one/two options on the menu. However, they will also make stuff up at your request 🙂

  8. December 24, 2015 / 9:41 am

    Looks like the food is super tasty. Can’t believe I live in Cardiff and haven’t heard of Turtle Bay! x

    • December 27, 2015 / 1:41 am

      Ooh, it was truly exceptional! I love Turtle Bay. There are a few branches UK wide but the Cardiff branch only opened recently (11th Dec) so that’s probably why you haven’t heard about it as yet.

  9. December 24, 2015 / 10:57 am

    Now I do love Jerk Chicken and I also love goat curry so this would be amazing x

    • December 27, 2015 / 1:39 am

      I love jerk chicken too – has to be one of my fave foods. When it’s cooked properly, the taste is just perfection!

  10. December 24, 2015 / 2:09 pm

    Oh this place looks amazing – and the food looks delicious. Caribbean Pimms? Yes please! Kaz x

    • December 27, 2015 / 1:33 am

      It tasted just as good as it looks, even better in fact 😉

  11. December 25, 2015 / 6:02 pm

    I saw your photos the other day and wondered what this restaurant was like. The curried goat looks interesting and the bread and butter pudding. I’m going to New Orleans next year and they do a mean bread and butter pudding there apparently.

    • December 27, 2015 / 1:32 am

      Ooh, I bet that will be delicious! I really like Turtle Bay, but it’s definitely not the place to go unless you like spicy food. I really enjoyed the curry goat and will be trying to eat more goat from now on.

  12. December 25, 2015 / 9:33 pm

    I’ve been really fancying this place, looks great and heard amazing things! Will check it out in the new year

    • December 27, 2015 / 1:32 am

      I highly recommend it. I loved all of the different dishes I tried there and the atmosphere was great.

  13. December 25, 2015 / 9:52 pm

    I love Turtle Bay! When I lived in Bristol I was there for the great food and 2-4-1 cocktails all the time. The beef patty is just the best. x

    • January 27, 2016 / 11:07 pm

      It has become one of my favourite restaurants. Tonight I went to another local Jamaican restaurant, and I must say I do prefer the food at Turtle Bay.

  14. December 26, 2015 / 11:04 pm

    I love Caribbean food. This place sounds perfect to me, I just wish it was a bit closer by 🙁

    • December 27, 2015 / 1:31 am

      Aww, where do you live? Turtle Bay has lots of branches throughout the UK.

  15. December 26, 2015 / 11:13 pm

    Fantastic post, I definitely need to visit Cardiff next year! Turtle Bay is one of my fave restaurants.

    • December 27, 2015 / 1:30 am

      Thank you! It’s definitely become one of my favourite restaurants in Cardiff. Love it 🙂

  16. January 11, 2016 / 4:02 am

    Wow! I never heard of Turtle Bay before, but the food looks delicious and I would possibly not be able to decide what to order. Caribbean Pimms? Sounds fantastic.

    Nadine x

    • January 16, 2016 / 11:00 pm

      It’s definitely my new favourite restaurant. I can’t keep away!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: