Having had a fleeting but tantalizing taste of the new Turtle Bay Walthamstow at their launch party, I was keen to come back, try a full meal and see if they’d managed to maintain the great atmosphere from that night – something that’s a bit easier to do when the place is packed out and there’s a live band or two.
We were really impressed with what we found. Thanks to the amount of effort that’s gone into the décor – festoon lighting, walls of speakers, colourful posters and a fun central bar – you almost forget you’re in Walthamstow! Others clearly felt the same, as the place was bustling and clearly the choice for a few birthdays/ misc parties.
Immediately under the influence ourselves, we grabbed a menu and ordered a Beach Platter from the starters which seemed to have a good selection of traditional tit-bits – spicy jerk chicken wings, pepper roti, sweet corn fritters, garlic ‘n’ herb flatbread for £12.95. This turned out to be a good amount for two and covered a range of different tastes and sensations. Various sauces are also at hand on each table to jerk anything up too (should you need more spice!). Our favourite (highly recommendation from the waitress) were probably the crunchy corn fritters but it was a close call.
To accompany this, we had to order a couple of cocktails to deal with all the spice (or at least that started off as our excuse).
Next up we ordered a Double Dipped Steak (£14.25) and Trini Curry Fish (£9.65). The stake was sizeable, cooked to my ‘medium-rare’ specifications perfectly and marinated in jerk sauce. It also came with sweet potato fries – not something you get everywhere but a highly recommended treat (NB they will be stolen by others on your table). The fish curry came from the One Pot part of the menu so was delivered in a traditional white kitchen pot and comprised of salmon, prawns, squid, coconut, sweet onion chutney, “rice ‘n’ peas” (Caribbean for kidney beans) and flatbread. With a subtler flavour than the starter it was very comforting indeed.
Both were extremely flavoursome and generous – Turtle Bay is not haut cuisine and nor should it be. There are less spicy options but my one caveat would be that you should expect buckets of spice, sugar and maybe a little more spice. We learnt, from our very knowledgeable waitress, that the scotch bonnet pepper is actually native to the Caribbean and apparently finds its way into every kitchen there. (According to Wikipedia the name is derived from the fact that it looks like a Scotsman’s Tam o’Shanter hat, if you’re interested…)
Of course, we had to have a couple more cocktails again. Over the night we tried a few including a couple of Caribbean Mojitos – nice variations with exotic fruits added in, a strong and tasty Strawberry Daquiri, and a Jammin’ which was nice but a little gimmicky as came with a spoon of jam that was impossible to mix in. The standard is pretty high like you’d expect in any nice establishment… with a couple of extra spoons of sugar for good measure. Happy Hour (two for one) is currently as generous as everything else and seemed to cover half the day except peek time (7pm-10pm I think).
Full though we were, we couldn’t say no to the pudding menu and the choice looked good. Noticing that many of them had rum, we speculated that perhaps, with so much sweetness in the mains, they might well add a more bitter ingredient into their puddings… the waitress said they just really liked rum which probably made more sense. To test the theory, we got a Banoffee Pie with rum toffee sauce.
It was hard to pick out the rum which might have been because there was already so much in our glasses but the main thing is, it tasted good.
By this time we had reached a very positive conclusion about the atmosphere (and everything) as proved by the fact that even on a damp day in February, the combination of the lovely staff, music, and the food and drinks, means you can’t help feeling a little more summery in Turtle Bay.