Turtle Bay review: ‘Making chain restaurant eating acceptable’

Turtle Bay, Dalston

Turtle Bay, Dalston - Credit: 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, Dalston

Turtle Bay, Dalston - Credit: Archant

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.

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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.

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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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