If you’ve visited my blog (or IG) before, you’ll know that I am extremely partial to a Turtle Bay happy hour cocktail turned cheeky meal out. Last summer my bestie Ciara and I had the best time enjoying their new location on Cheltenham Road, so when we heard that their new menu launch tied in with her next Bristol visit, we just had to get involved.
It was a little colder than I would have liked as we headed down to the Harbourside Turtle Bay, but as soon as we walked in to the restaurant it felt like we were away on a hot holiday. I just love their vibe – it doesn’t matter if it’s howling a gale outside, there’s always cocktails and Caribbean fun to be had inside. We got settled in our seats (top tip: head to the back of the restaurant if you can for a cute fairy-light outdoorsy canopy affair) and got straight on with the cocktails.
I went for the Turtle Bay take on a classic negroni, with rum instead of gin, while Ciara tried one of the new additions, the Roots Culture. Both were delicious and super-drinkable – we’d almost finished by the time we’d decided on our food!
We wanted to try a little bit of all three courses of the new menu, so we started with the Okra Ladies’ Fingers to share. I’ve only ever really used okra in place of courgettes to give a bit more of an exotic feel to my usual recipes, so I was excited to try them as a standalone dish. And they didn’t disappoint – crispy on the outside, just firm enough on the inside and the perfect amount of spicy salty coating to complement the mango sauce that they were served with. I’m not quite sure that Ciara actually got her fair share of the plate – I turned into a massive okra hog.
We were both torn on our main course choices for quite a while. There were so many new things to try and each of them sounded as amazing as the others! In the end, the Bajan Beef Cheeks won me over – I’d spied them on the email when I was invited in and they’d been on my mind ever since. A bowl of goodness arrived, filled with meat that just fell apart and a hearty sauce. Toasted roti flatbreads added lovely crisp texture (and were ideal for mopping up the leftover sauce at the end).
Ciara went for one of the new burger offerings, a two-way chicken burger with spicy panko crumbed fillet and pulled jerk chicken in a sweet bun – the perfect balance of sweet and spicy that Turtle Bay are so good at. And I of course also sampled her fries, which complemented the dish perfectly.
We finished with a couple more cocktails with a twist (a rum margarita and my all-time fave, the vanilla and passionfruit mojito) and a pudding to share. Continuing on the passionfruit theme we went for the new Passion Pie, mixing zingy passionfruit curd topped with lashings of soft baked meringue. We both fell completely in love at the first bite, which led to a bit of a spoon fight for the last slice (totally worth falling out with your bestie over!).
Sadly, it was then finally time to leave the summer-holiday vibe behind and head back out into the English weather. As we headed home, we talked about how we always have a good time at Turtle Bay – the laid-back vibe combined with the spot-on flavours accompanied by some real good cocktails truly are a winning combo. It’s lovely, too, to see that they’re not just resting on their laurels though – with new additions to their menu and exciting new foods to try, they’re giving their Caribbean classic feel a fresh update.