Last week, we paid a lunchtime visit to the recently opened Turtle Bay in the Cathedral Quarter in Blackburn to find out all about the hot new venue in town.
First a confession, both myself and Mr LF are pretty much Caribbean food virgins, so we were excited in anticipation of experiencing some new flavour sensations.
Turtle Bay is a growing chain of Caribbean social eating and drinking venues, in Lancashire you can find them in Preston, two in Manchester and two in Liverpool as well as the latest one in Blackburn.
Informal in style with a emphasis on relaxed social eating and drinking, the decor is definitely in a Jamaican Caribbean style. Plenty of reused materials and stripped back styling. The staff in Blackburn were great, friendly, welcoming and eager to please.
The extensive menu features a wide range of food (more of that in a minute) and drink including regional (as in Caribbean) specialities such as Ting, a very nice Guinness West Indies Porter, which Mr LF particularly enjoyed. They also have a good range of cocktails which often are 2 4 1 but I was driving today so couldn't comment but have many friends who have enjoyed a glass or two. I find Blackburn town centre roads and parking confusing enough when sober so I would probably be still navigating the one way system if I had partaken.
I have a very nice and refreshing Limeade which I understand they make on the premises.
Any way on to the food, as I have already said having never sampled this style of food as we perused the menu with our drinks we were assisted in our choices by a really helpful waitress, so we plumped for the Beach food platter to start, so we could try a few specialities all in one go.
The sharing platter featured, traditional Jerk chicken wings, Stuffed Pepper roti, Sweetcorn fritters and Garlic and herb flatbreads, all served on a board drizzled with chilli sauce and strewed with rocket. The jerk wings were moist juicy and really tasty with a generous jerk spice hit. Pepper roti was served Trinidadian style with cheese, sliced carrots, potatoes and onions and sweet hot peppery sauce, tasty little triangles, a little like a cheesy tortilla. I had been recommended by a friend to order the sweetcorn fritters, which in her words were legendary and I can say I enjoyed them , little bundles of sweetcorn (obviously), spring onion, coriander and some Scotch bonnet chilli deep fried in balls. The garlic and herb flatbread was served as rolls which also included a sticky chilli sauce. Mr LF's favourite from the platter was the Jerk chicken wings and mine the sweetcorn fritters.
For our mains I plumped for the Goat burger from the Jerk Pit part of the menu, a tasty goat and lamb burger, seasoned with Jerk spices, served on a sweet brioche style bun, with sweet onion chutney, green seasoning (a little like a pesto sauce), on the side sweet potato fries, slaw and a sweet plantain dumpling. I really enjoyed the goat burger plenty of goat flavour not too spicy and moist and juicy, the green seasoning was also interesting, a little like a pesto meets sofrito, meets salsa. I have since googled it and it contains onions, garlic, green herbs and then what ever else you like from chillies, more herbs or sweet peppers and is widely used in Trinidadian cooking.
Mr LF's choice was the One pot slow cooked Goat curry, served with the traditional accompaniments of rice 'n peas and Caribbean dumplings. The goat was tender and moist, the curry rich, sweet potatoes soft and plenty of ginger and citrus notes along with hot scotch bonnet chilli, the sweet onion chutney provided a nice flavour contrast. Rice n peas for those not in the know is actually rice and normally kidney beans, not peas but none the less a tasty accompaniment to the curry. Caribbean dumplings are a little like unsweet doughnuts, served in fingers. Mr B managed to almost finish the dish, but he did say he was a little spicy towards the end for him.
For gluten free eater, I did notice that many of the One pot dishes are GF if you have the rice 'n peas and skip the roti and dumpling options.
Forgive me but a glorious close up of the Goat Curry one pot
After all that spicy food it only seemed right that we had a little sweetness, so both ordered a pudding. Mine was the Gluten free chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream, very nice too moist and very chocolaty, especially as I had two good sized pieces served with creamy ice cream.
Mr LF's choice was a Rum and Raisin pudding, soaked in dark rum with brown sugar, cinnamon raisins, this decadent pudding comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Nicely rum flavoured and a good end to our meal.
Turtle Bay can be found at 3 Cathedral Square, Cathedral Quarter , Blackburn, its under the Premier Inn Hotel.
I would advise booking particularly at weekends as it was very busy when we visited. The soundtrack is what you expect of a restaurant who strapline is Rum, Reggae, Jerk, not an issue to us but might be for some people.
The prices are pretty reasonable and service was very good, everything was clean, the food fresh, hot and came out at a good pace.
We dined on a complementary basis after being invited to give a review, all thoughts, views, opinions are our own. We were not expected to give a positive review.