It should be no surprise now that I am a sucker for good hearty food. I like to go global, try any dish from any country. So on a recent visit to Turtle Bay in Southampton, I was excited to get stuck in to some serious spice, warming flavours and colours of Caribbean food. And cocktails, I cannot forget the cocktails.
We visited on a Tuesday evening, I’d been told Turtle Bay can be a really popular place for pre-drinking on weekends so a mid-week dinner date was perfect. There was still a good amount of people sat around, some in the lounging area and others enjoying some warm Caribbean food!
Caribbean Food with Friends
The atmosphere in Turtle Bay is relaxed, a warm glow of lighting brightens shack decor and Soul music playing throughout. The staff dressed down in cool style and gave us a warm welcome when we arrived. Inviting us first to have a seat in the lounging area and enjoy some cocktails before seating for dinner.
Lets talk about cocktails for a moment because Turtle Bay is the place to be, people. Not only do they serve over 40 rums from across the Caribbean, but their ‘Happy Hour’ (2 for 1 on cocktails) runs between opening – 7pm and 10pm ’til close. That’s massive and their cocktails are serious stuff…
We started with Strawberry Daiquiri, a classic and one of my favourites. Then swiftly moved on to Bahama Mama and then finally a Reggae Rum Punch.
Not only were the cocktails full of flavour from the fruit and all.that.rum but they were a generous size too. And not too much ice. That’s my pet hate when ordering cocktails.
No sir, these cocktails were tres magnifique and the mixologist did a super job at mixing them up and showing off his skills! We highly recommend sitting up at the bar before you get stuck into your meal.
Finishing up on our first cocktails and feeling incredibly hungry after seeing staff serve up some seriously delicious Caribbean food from the menu to other customers. We took our seats at a table in the centre of the restaurant. The decor throughout is vibrant, edgy and picture-worthy. I had to take a few snaps before seating and deciding on what to chow down on…
Split between Starters, Lunch, One Pots, Jerk Pit BBQ, Pudding & Cocktails – We decided to share a starter so we could both fit a dessert in at the end.
The Beach Food Platter is the perfect starter to share with friends, it has a great selection from the menu including spicy jerk chicken wings, pepper roti, sweetcorn fritters, garlic n herb flatbreads, topped with salad. Each piece of the starter is served up with a different dip; sour orange chutney, scotch bonnet and herb mayo, West Indian hot sauce, herb chilli and garlic butter.
We loved this combination of starter and flavours, personally my favourites were the jerk chicken wings and the sweetcorn fritters! Both had such deep flavours and the chicken was cooked to perfection, succulent and juicy!
Caribbean Soul Food
Next up, our mains. We decided to choose one main from the Jerk Pit BBQ and one from the One Pot. Excited to try both, we decided to share. Sharing is caring, right?!
From the Jerk Pit BBQ, BBQ Pork Belly. You can’t go wrong with a good piece of pork belly and this one sure didn’t disappoint; a 24hr marinated slow braised and grilled pork belly with classic jerk glaze. Topped with sweet onion chutney, fresh green seasoning and crispy crackling. Served with Caribbean slaw and sweet potato fries.
The pork was cooked to perfection, succulent with a good spice from the glaze contrasted beautifully with the green seasoned sauce – I don’t know if this is a secret recipe, but I need it! It’s so good!
From the One Pot I decided to go for something I’d never tried, Curry Pork Cheeks. Slow-cooked pork cheeks marinated 24hrs in Caribbean spices and cooked in coconut milk, coriander, sweet potatoes, chilli, fresh garlic, ginger & pineapple chunks. Served with roti and traditional rice and peas. It arrived in a large pot, bustling with spiced aromas and sizzling away. The pork cheeks melted in the mouth, it was so unexpected. I tucked right in to the spicy sauce, the coconut milk and large pineapple chunks gave it a sweet kick and mellowed down the dish perfectly – no mouth on fire feeling! Dunking the warm roti in to get the last bits of sauce and rice was the best bit!
After such filling and hearty mains, we questioned whether we’d eat a dessert or not. The staff insisted we should, so after a little twisting of my arm (none at all really) we decided to go for Caymanas Rum Cake and a slice of Banana and Toffee Cheesecake
WARNING, this rum cake will blow your head off – the rum cake is soaked with rum caramel, strong and delicious! The Banana and toffee cheesecake a classic that can’t go wrong!
Overall, Turtle Bay really is the perfect place to meet with friends. The atmosphere teamed with great cocktails makes Turtle Bay the perfect place to hangout over cocktails and some snacks. Or chow down on some incredible Caribbean food.
Have you visited Turtle Bay or tried Caribbean food before? Make sure you stop by Turtle Bay and take advantage of their Happy Hour as you enjoy some delicious food!