Turtle Bay, Chelmsford
One of the reasons I wanted to start making my blog more food related, is because I wanted to review places to eat that were actually affordable for my target audience. Places like Turtle Bay might be chain restaurants, but some chain restaurants are incredible for the price they charge and no one seems to acknowledge that. I’m also very aware that most food bloggers get their meals for free. So it’s all well and good getting a free meal at a fancy 5* restaurant and reviewing it, but is anyone that actually reads my reviews going to be able to eat there?
Anyway, on to the main subject of this blog: Turtle Bay, Chelmsford. My love affair with Turtle Bay started a few years ago when I visited the one in Leicester for some drinks. I can’t remember what convinced me to become a fan but it was probably either the cocktails or the fact that there were two of them because it was happy hour. I’ve always loved Caribbean food. One of my favourite memories is being given curried goat one year at carnival and saying “this lamb tastes a bit funny”, but obviously, being goat, it was actually spot on. I know this is probably going to upset some vegans but please do hear me out. When I was about four I went to Colchester Zoo and a goat snuck up behind me and ate the whole bag of animal feed from my hands and nearly bit my hand off. I guess that makes us even. You can say the goat didn’t mean it all you want, but you were not there and you did not see the look in it’s eyes.
Turtle Bay in Chelmsford is right next to the High Chelmer Shopping Centre. This means it’s easy to find and also a great place to go for a bite to eat if you are suffering from shoppers fatigue. I decided to go with my friend Charlotte as she is hilarious and she wants to get into blogging (definitely follow the little funner on Instagram). On a freezing cold Thursday after work we both stepped into what is probably one of the warmest places in Essex. Turtle Bay absolutely screams vibrancy. It is completely and un-apologetically “in your face” Caribbean. This is one of the things that I love about Turtle Bay and what makes it so unique. Even if there were no signs up – you’d know you were in Turtle Bay.
One of the main drawbacks of visiting somewhere like Turtle Bay is wanting to try everything on the menu but not physically having the room too. Every single one of the starters looked tempting. Jerk Ribs, Beef Patty, Okra. It was all there. Everything you would expect from a Caribbean menu. While I’m usually drawn to meat (behave yourselves) – I actually really liked the look of the Sweet Corn Fritters. I really feel like sweet corn doesn’t get enough credit. You’d probably assume that there wouldn’t be enough sweet corn to fills these out and they would be substantially “batter-y”, but they actually weren’t. A great bonus to choosing these was that they were pretty light and I had room for the main course.
Of course, if you are going to review a Caribbean restaurant it is essential to try the Jerk Chicken. I’ve never had the please of trying the Jerk Chicken from Turtle Bay. My jerk experience all comes from Notting Hill Carnival. The jerk seasoning at Turtle Bay is spicy but not overly so. The great thing is the seasoning penetrates the meat quite deeply. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through your chicken and realising it has about as much flavour as a cream cracker. The Coconut Rice ‘n’ Peas was a very welcome addition. I’ve had coconut rice from a number of different Indian places but I haven’t had this kind of coconut rice for years – probably since I was young enough to go to carnival.
The biggest pleasant surprise for me though was the dessert. Being lactose intolerant, I’ve long since given up on the concept of ice cream. I’ve only just started discovering how good Ben & Jerry’s dairy-free flavours are, but actually getting lactose free ice cream out somewhere? Forget it. That’s why I was so surprised to see dairy-free chocolate ice cream on the menu. It turns out Turtle Bay literally cater to EVERYONE.
A three-course meal for two with non-alcoholic drinks at Turtle Bay costs around £20 per head. You can book a table online via their website.
*This review was written in exchange for a complimentary meal for two. Display advertising also appears on this page.