If you head to Guildhall Square in Southampton on a Friday or Saturday, Turtle Bay is sure to be rammed. Famous for its inventive cocktails, usually 2-4-1 and it’s traditional Caribbean food, it’s always a popular spot. But how good is it actually?
I’ve lived in Southampton on and off for 4 years, over that time frame I have revisited Turtle Bay a handful of times. While there was nothing unappealing about it, I just never seemed to be inclined to step within its glass doors.
However, alongside my fellow Southampton Bloggers, that’s exactly what I did.
Turtle Bay is known for food and cocktails, as I said, but cocktails especially. With people queuing by the bar every weekend trying to score a table and waiting for just one sip of the beautiful crafted alcoholic drinks.
Thankfully, due to the introduction of Cocktail Tables, you no longer have to loiter around the tables waiting for someone to move, instead, you can book a cocktail table ahead.
After a long day at work, I was overly enthused when a Side Chick Martini was placed in front of me. A play on the traditional Porn Star Martini this variation included vodka, passion fruit, vanilla, orange juice, prosecco side. While I am a huge Porn Star Martini fan, this did hit the spot. It was fruity, sweet but with a little vodka kick.
The second cocktail was Koko Kolada, another play on a traditional cocktail, but oh my did it work! This went down slightly too easily, made with coconut rum, dark rum, coconut milk and pineapple juice, this delightful vegan cocktail was the ideal way to end the meal.
The third and final cocktail of the evening was the Jumbled Julep, I tried this one due to the combination of fruit, it contained white rum & passion fruit liqueur, strawberry, fresh mint, passion fruit & apple juice. The fruit outweighed the rum and liqueur so it had a smooth and sweet taste.
When a restaurant claim to be authentic, I’m always cautious of just how authentic they truly are. In this case, I was wrong to worry. Turtle Bay has a truly unique menu, they avoid the stereotypical menu items most restaurants add and instead place their own Carribean twists on foods.
We had various platters brought out to us with a variety of foods, while I didn’t manage to try everything, what I did try did not disappoint.
What we had
Jerk Platter, Veggie Platter, Doubles, Sweetcorn Fritters, Garlic and Herb Flat Bread, Beef Patty, Dirty Curry Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, Carribean Hummus, Smashed Avocado, Crumbled Halloumi, Sunshine Quinoa and Crumbled Plantain.
What stood out
The Jerk Platter was absolutely divine, I had the Jerk Chicken Wings which were lightly coated in a jerk sauce and smothered in flavour. Unlike most chicken wings, they were messy or difficult to eat and tasted original and divine.
Dirty Curry Fries, just the sound of that gets me excited, dirty food is seeing a resurgence at the moment, especially fries. These were covered in a curry sauce which had a mild spice to it then lots of cheese, making them slightly messy to eat, but totally worth it.
Carribean Hummus was definitely unlike anything I’d eaten before, it wasn’t packed with flavour like I was hoping, but was a great texture. The Smashed Avocado was much the same, a great addition to the platters as they were good for dipping bits in but alone, didn’t really stand out.
The Crumbled Halloumi was slightly frustrating for me, as someone who has to limit their wheat intake but loves cheese, this sort of thing makes it difficult to eat said cheese. While I did give it a go, it was frustrating the lack of gluten-free options.
Finally the Sunshine Quinoa, this was the perfect way to break up the platters, with sweet and colourful pomegranate seeds laced through perfectly flavoured quinoa, this is a must-order for me, super simple but a great add-on.