I recently visited the newly opened Turtle Bay situated in the heart of Exeter’s Queen Street Dining complex. On the approach, the first thing you see is the wonderful array of fairy lights and neon that sparkle in the autumnal evening light. The twinkle entices you closer until you are greeted at the door by a warm welcome.
Steve and I were shown to our table right next to the barbecue and amongst the throng of people. It was 8.15pm and buzzing. The Jamaican inspired music was just the right side of loud to create an atmosphere conducive to Caribbean beachside bars. The diners around us were engrossed in their cocktails, chatter and Caribbean cuisine. I couldn’t wait to be a part of that.
A few weeks ago I had been lucky enough to have been invited to a preview night at Turtle Bay so had a good understanding of the menu. If you want to have a read of it click here. Our waiter asked if we had been to a Turtle Bay before. We nodded and he said “so you know it gets spicy?”. Again, we nodded and replied “just how we like it!” Menus were handed out and drinks were ordered. I went for the Bay Bramble and Steve had a Jamaican IPA. The Bay Bramble was a cocktail made with white rum, blackberry liquor, freshly squeezed lemon and club soda. Served over crushed ice it was refreshingly tart. Perfect to get the taste buds in gear for what was to come.
We opted for a couple of starters that we could share and nibble on whilst enjoying our drinks. Being a massive squid lover I had to have the chilli squid. To compliment the fishy theme we opted for the island bait too. The squid was crispy and served with a mango mole and coriander dip. There was just enough heat from the chilli to create that lovely heat glow but it wasn’t overpowering. The island bait (whitebait) was served with a coriander mayo and had no heat to it at all so a perfect companion for the squid.
Our main courses took a little while to arrive but we were in no rush and enjoyed the laid back vibe. When they did I wasn’t disappointed. I had ordered the Caribbean curry fish. A snapper fillet cooked in a coconut curry sauce with ginger, scotch bonnet chilli and coriander. Served with the traditional rice and peas. The flavours were good and the perfect amount of heat once again. I loved the creaminess of the coconut against the heat of the scotch bonnet chilli. A definite winner in my eyes.
Steve’s menu choice was the curry goat. He was hoping for a bit more heat from it and found my fish curry a little more to his heat level. That said, he commented on how succulent the meat was and how the dumplings had improved since our last visit a few weeks before. I had a little bite and agreed they were so much lighter and they mopped up the juices from his curry perfectly. The flavours of his curry were great but perhaps did require a little more heat. Obviously this is personal preference and many people would agree that the curry goat was plenty hot enough!
Dessert was offered and we accepted. I remembered how much I had enjoyed the BBQ pineapple from the press night a few weeks ago. A simple dish of grilled sugared pineapple served with coconut ice cream and fresh coconut shavings. That was at the top of my list for pudding. I did happen to notice that there was a Caymanas rum cake on the menu. My sister, Estella recently moved to Grand Cayman for work so we decided to have a slice of that in her honour! We weren’t disappointed. The cake was moist with a delicious rum caramel sauce and served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. If you love rum like me you will love this dessert as the flavours in the caramel sauce were rather punchy. The BBQ pineapple was a light and refreshing way to end our meal. Grilled and slightly sweetened with what tasted like muscavado sugar. It felt decadent but probably one of the healthier dessert options.
Turtle Bay is open:
Sunday – Wednesday 11.30am – 11.30pm
Thursday 11.30am – 12.30am
Friday and Saturday 11.30am – 1.30am
Due to the nature of their license children are not permitted after 9pm.