Turtle Bay: A taste of the Caribbean in Birmingham

As a big foodie who eats out in Birmingham fairly frequently, I noticed there doesn’t seem to be many African-Caribbean style places to eat at (unless you count the annual Birmingham Food Festival which serves some of the best Jerk Chicken you’ll ever taste!) – but apart from that, we are fairly limited. And so – by recommendation from local Birmingham food bloggers, I took the chance to visit one of the newest and freshest Caribbean restaurants to enter the city, Turtle Bay. The brand spanking new restaurant sits comfortably next to Brew Dog on John Bright Street in Birmingham. There are several other branches dotted around the likes of London, Bristol, Manchester and a few other places around the UK, but on arrival, you wouldn’t think it was a food chain at all.

 

Our waitress, Gem, who was incredibly friendly, came to take our drink order a couple of minutes after being sat. The service here is very efficient and they don’t keep you waiting – but don’t rush you either! I happened to stumble upon the Caribbean Pimms cocktail, which consisted of Pimms, mint, fresh juice and a variety of fruit. I was also excited to find out they run a seven-hour happy hour, which runs from midday until 7pm, and then again from 10pm until they close! The bonus also being that they do a 2-4-1 deal on cocktails. What I also thought was great was Josh’s Ginger Beer arrived in a glass bottle instead of just a normal glass. The place pushes boundaries in order to create a unique dining experience. Drinks ahoy!

 

The place itself is very quirky and is covered in lights which wrap around all of the sitting areas, giving the place a warm and vibrant feel. It is also extremely colour and has a lot of character. Josh also noticed that the kitchen area sits inside an old blue container (the kind you would see lorries carrying) but has been converted into the serving hatch – very awesome! What made me laugh most was Josh coming back from the toilets and looking me dead in the eye, saying “The toilets have been converted into what looks like a shanty town!”.
The food we ate was absolutely amazing and full of flavour. I’m not the type of person to enjoy spicy food. I mean, I eat korma’s for god’s sake! But when my Jerk Steak arrived, my mind was blown. It was medium rare and just cut open so easily. It was like slicing through butter. Josh on the other hand, had Jerk Chicken, which was also accompanied with sweet potato fries. I made sure to order a side of dumplings, which were also cooked to perfection.
After several bites of my food, I persistently returned to two cocktails, which were so fruity and inviting. I also want to mention that although the staff are extremely attentive, they don’t ask you how your food is right at the moment when you have your mouth full of food. (Have you noticed food places do that alot? I think it’s so you can’t complain to them while your mouth is full of food…).
After our mains, we ordered two desserts. Our waitress told us the Caymana’s Rum Cake – (A warm golden mellow rum cake, rum caramel & vanilla ice cream) was exceptional so we ordered that, alongside the Spiced Chocolate Pot for myself which was a melted chocolate type texture, combined with orange zest and coconut shavings. All of it was topped off with coconut ice-cream. I was in heaven.

 

Although the Birmingham Turtle Bay is just a couple of weeks old, I somehow feel that the place will take off very quickly. The food is not that expensive and doesn’t break the bank, but you certainly get what you pay for. The place was already packed out with happy diners upon our arrival, so they can’t be doing too badly. Upon asking for the bill, Gem brought over a competition card for us to fill out. The idea is, whoever draws the best Turtle can have the chance of winning a bottle of rum, and even a trip to the Caribbean itself! Josh made an attempt to draw a beautiful turtle. I hope we win!
Afterwards, Josh and I met a couple of close friends for another cocktail in their bar area. There is nothing better than having amazing food, great cocktails and perfect company to finish off a good day. Today was a success and I will definitely be going back for more dining experiences here during the summer.
Turtle Bay, 81091 John Bright St, Birmingham B1 1BL. Tel 0121 643 1303. www.turtlebay.co.uk
 
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