29 October 2015

Turtle Bay, Huddersfield

I'll admit that when I think of Caribbean food, the fist place that springs to mind isn't Huddersfield. In fact, it's probably safe to say that the Yorkshire town wouldn't have made it into my top ten. But I'm always happy to be proven wrong, and so with an open mind and an empty stomach I popped along to nosy round Huddersfield's newest exciting food spot, Turtle Bay.

If you aren't already familiar with Turtle Bay, I'm sure its only a matter of time. Though it's been a few years since the first branch opened, the slow and steady drip of new restaurants has turned into a wave of openings nationwide. This new Huddersfield branch follows a recent opening in York, and comes before an upcoming arrival in Leeds.

Despite the new residents only getting the keys to the building the day before our visit, they'd done a bang-up job of making the place homely. Though unfamiliar with the building in its previous incarnation, I was assured by those more familiar with the place that the transformation was incredible - the place is warm, colourful and full of character, with an effortlessly cool, laid-back Caribbean vibe.

To go along with that laid back Caribbean vibe is a very impressive list of laid back Caribbean cocktails to try! I spent my evening happily sipping the Reggae Rum Punch, but there's going to be so many more available and all on a 2-for1 happy hour between 11.30-7pm and 10pm-close every day! If that's not enough,  the impressive array of Rum varieties available should convince anyone this is a top spot to do some drinking!

We were lucky to meet Turtle Bay's Development Chef, Colin (that's the guy who comes up with all the scrummy recipes!) who was happy to tell us about origin of the restaurant, explain the development of the recipes, and show us some of the special ingredients used to make the food so darn tasty! It was a lovely experience to hear first hand about how much thought goes into each of the dishes, even if he did make a few of us a little nervous with his tales of excess chillies!

Not too nervous, thankfully, to actually try some of the  beautiful food that's going to be available from Turtle Bay. When I told people I was going to be spending my evening at a Caribbean restaurant the one dish mentioned most by jealous people was Curried Goat, so I was pretty excited that this was on our evening's menu - especially being a goat virgin (as it were). Goat is super lean and very tasty, but not something you commonly find served in restaurants. In fact, Turtle Bay are the only place serving this particular meat on the high street, so you know you are in for something a bit special.

There's definitely a reason this is one of the chains top-selling dishes, it was absolutely sublime. Hot, but make-you-feel-all-warm-and-fuzzy hot rather than melt-your-face-off hot. This will definitely not be the last time I eat it!

The other biggest seller at Turtle Bay, the thing I was most excited about trying, is their amazing Jerk Chicken. The chicken is marinated for a good 24 hours before being grilled to spicy perfection. The goat curry was hot, but this was HOT! My lips were tingling and my tongue burning and I couldn't get enough of it!

There was dessert too, in the form of an amazing rum cake and coconut ice cream. This was so good I didn't even remember to take pictures before I'd devoured the lot!

We were even given a lovely basket of sauces to take home, to help replicate that Turtle Bay feeling. These are the exact same sauces you'll find as part of your on-table condiments in the restaurant, and they're all rather brilliant (though that Aunt May's Bajan Pepper Sauce is NOT for the faint-hearted!) Sadly my cooking skills aren't quite up to scratch to I might stick to Turtle Bay for Caribbean food, and keep the sauces for spicing up my more pedestrian kitchen efforts (which means I'll just dip my oven chips in them,....)

Turtle Bay opens on King Street in  Huddersfield this Friday (30th October!) and looks like it'll be a great addition to the city. I heartily recommend a visit if you are at all local, and if you aren't then it can't be too long now until there is one near you - be excited!

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