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Turtle Bay review: ‘Making chain restaurant eating acceptable’

PUBLISHED: 13:06 28 April 2016 | UPDATED: 13:06 28 April 2016

Turtle Bay, Dalston

Turtle Bay, Dalston

Archant

Turtle Bay has an important place in my heart. A chain of Caribbean restaurants that is slowly expanding across the UK, I was previously a regular at its Nottingham branch, as was my friend who joins me tonight in the new Dalston restaurant.

Turtle Bay, DalstonTurtle Bay, Dalston

This friend is a man who “doesn’t do chains” when it comes to eating out. Yet he makes one exception to this rule: for Turtle Bay.

So we both arrive wanting this to be good. And happily, it’s just like old times in Nottingham.

Granted, this new restaurant is in a sterile square off Dalston Junction which has the uncomfortable feel of Canary Wharf.

But we enter the premises and everything is fine. Sitting down with a Jamaican Pale Ale (brewed in Bristol) we find plenty of soul inside.

Not least from our waitress, who greets us as she would to her home, and has clear passion for the menu.

We go for the beach food platter to start (£12.95: sweetcorn fritters, garlic and herb flatbread, chicken wings and pepper roti). She throws in some whitebait on top, because she is great.

I choose double-dipped steak (£14.95) for my main. With its delicious marinade, it’s the kind of meat which makes you wonder how you ever ate steak without Caribbean flavouring. My friend enjoys curry pork cheeks (£9.70): “Wholesome. Lots of spice, but a welcome dash of sweetness.”

He cleanses with barbequed pineapple for pudding, while I gorge on rum cake (both £4.85) which is literally soaked in booze: no bad thing when contrasted with the sweet buttercream.

If there is one disappointment, it’s that it’s a school night. We are too old to get our slirpy on with the superb cocktail menu. It goes to show that Turtle Bay is a perfect weekend joint, one where the drink is perfect with the food.

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