It’s been two years this month since Turtle Bay opened their doors on Oldham Street, just a year after the opening of their first restaurant on Oxford Street. So it seemed like it was about time we went to have a look, especially since their menu has been recently updated.
The inside is a mixture of beach bar and shanty town, and looking up, you can be forgiven for thinking you’ve caught a small glint of tropical sunlight through the ceiling. At the back, buried amongst some shipping containers is the open kitchen where they pipe out the good stuff.
We kicked things off with cocktails, doubled up of course, and ordered the just jerk platter for starters. This dish was a spicy showcase of several of the starters on the menu, and was shared eagerly between your two hungry correspondents.
The pork and beef ribs vied for attention in one bowl, invitingly glazed in a rich jerk sauce. We halved the beef patty which was good, I would have preferred a flakier, spicier pastry myself, but then everyone likes them differently. The spiced popcorn was a cute little addition to the platter. The salad with chickpeas, rocket and red onion brought a bit of green civility to the table.
Further in we found this delight, deep fried sweetcorn fritters, even more enjoyable after being doused in some of Aunt May’s Bajan pepper sauce. On looking back at the menu I realised they were vegan too — and I take my hat off to the kitchen for sneaking the milk and egg out of the recipe without me noticing.
I’ll also point out these jerk chicken wings, partly because I enjoyed the marinade; not too sweet and authentically spiced, but also because it’s the only chicken we decided to order during the meal…
Which brings me on to the main courses, where we decided to go all-out beef. On one side of the table we had the Bajan beef cheeks one pot, a carnival of delicate flavours and tender meat. This dish was almost like a curry in style, with fragrant coconut slices adding their distinctive freshness to the dish. A handy side of roti flatbread provided the tools with which to mop up.
Then, from the barbecue, we took the slow braised beef rib. It arrived as a brash slab of barbecued meaty goodness, doused with an inviting green coloured chutney, and finished with a jerk glaze. The charred flavours of the ribs were cunningly offset by a side serving of watermelon.
After a hearty two courses, we got the puddings in. This passion pie was great, the light meringue topping and sweetness of the passion fruit worked really well and was a nice cooling way to round off the meal.
Alternatively if after all that you’re still up for some more spice (I was), then you can tear into the spiced rum and chocolate pot, which packs a decent amount of heat for a cold dessert, or indeed a main for that matter. There’s some coconut ice cream on there if you want to calm your wussy taste-buds.
To round it off we thought it would be worth getting some rum shots — as the rum selection is a bit of a speciality in Turtle Bay. The Pusser’s Gunpowder was my choice, a rich but very sippable nautical rum tot. The Trios Revieres Blanc was also decent by all accounts, although I didn’t get anywhere near it!
If you’re after Caribbean food to take away, you are of course well served by some pretty legendary Manchester stalwarts. But if you’re looking for a more refined, sit-down meal experience, with some cocktails and rum to go with it, then I would certainly recommend a trip to Turtle Bay.
Turtle Bay Manchester NQ
46-50 Oldham Street, M4 1LE
0161 235 8411