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Turtle Bay’s Festive Menu has arrived and I was thrilled to be invited to my local restaurant in Peterborough to try it out.
Oliver was happy to join me, albeit for a slightly less food focused reason: “RUM!” was his first reaction.
We aren’t strangers to Turtle Bay but our time spent there pre Covid featured boozy social gatherings. It’s such a fun place to go with friends. I associate it with hearty food and summery cocktails. Due to this I wasn’t sure what to expect on a frosty Sunday lunchtime in a city adjusting to Tier 2 restrictions.
As it turns out, the atmosphere is still vibing! The decor is cheerful and bright and the place is adorned with fairy lights that give a relaxed and cosy feel.
You can’t forget that there’s a pandemic going on of course. Masks must be worn when not seated and there’s hand sanitiser on every table. The tables which are situated close together are now seperated by perspex screens.
However as we settled into our quiet corner table and listened to the buzz of chatter from other diners drifting over the reggae tunes, it felt like a return to some kind of normality.
…cocktails help too!
For £20 each you can make your drinks bottomless. This means unlimited cocktails, mocktails, prosecco, craft lager, pale ale and red stripe draught (note that a 2 hour table duration applies). We debated that option but decided against because the whole table must participate (i.e. pay £20 each) and I was driving.
Instead we took advantage of the 2 for 1 happy hour which included mocktails.
The standard Winter menu is available throughout December but we opted for the Festive Menu.
This offers 3 courses for £24 or 4 courses for £27. It’s worth noting that the first course in both of these options is ‘appetisers’. The menu is a little bit vague on what you’ll receive, stating that the table will be filled with things ‘like juicy grilled halloumi, marinated fried aubergine, spiced crispy chickpeas and fresh watermelon’.
When our platter arrived there was a lot of grilled flatbread on it, a separate dish of chickpeas and cubes of watermelon. I felt a twang of the ‘vegan hard done bys’ as upon enquiry (it isn’t stated on the menu) I ascertained that only the chickpeas were fully vegan.
Technically the watermelon was vegan too but this had been laid out around the flatbreads. These were drizzled with a generous amount of garlic butter which of course had oozed around the tray.
The chickpeas were outstanding however, a worthy appetiser on their own! They had a moreish combination of crunch, gentle warming spices and salt.
Regular readers will know that I’ve been much more focused on nutrition this year. On this basis I decided to start sensibly with sweetcorn and onion fritters – they sounded like the healthy option.
Umm, no. They were definitely not healthy. I’ll tell you what they were though: Pure unadulterated pleasure!
What to say about those fritters? They’re light, they’re crispy, it’s impossible to eat them with any kind of restraint and you’ll want to mop up every last morsel of the sweet mango mole! I’d eat a bowl of the tangy pink onion topping all on its own.
I’m not going to focus on what my boyfriend ate since he went for an all out meat feast. Grudgingly, I’ll share that he called the Berry Jerk Wings ‘the best wings he’s ever had’ so there you go. They also looked very pretty dammit.
There were two vegan options on the Festive Menu and having a choice made me very happy! I decided to try the Sweet Berry Jerk Tofu as I was curious to see what they’d do with it.
Non vegan restaurants tend to focus on meat alternatives or make vegetables the star of the show so I always enjoy trying something a bit more complex. Tofu is incredibly nutritious too.
I was not disappointed. The tofu was served in a generous portion size and had a lovely texture to it. I think it must have been marinated in the spices and then maybe it was part baked and part fried? Whatever they did, I loved it and want the recipe.
The juicy berries piled on top were a nice touch and brought a suitably festive flavour to the dish.
As I’m writing this I’ve realised that it wasn’t served with any of the grilled pineapple promised by the menu description. However it was still a cracking dish that I’d order again in a heartbeat.
My favourite carribbean dish, rice and peas, was served alongside the tofu. There are two things you need to know about this dish:
1. The ‘coconut’ element is that the rice is cooked in coconut milk. Personally I can’t stand the texture or flavour of coconut flesh but I am absolutely fine with canned coconut milk. Coconut milk adds a creamy richness to sauces and grains but doesn’t have any of the cloying flavour of pure coconut.
2. The ‘peas’ element is actually red kidney beans, not green peas!
Oliver was very impressed with his Jerk sirloin steak. He said he’d paid a lot more at restaurants for steaks that were of a lesser quality. I think he’ll be having a lads night out here when it’s safe.
…of course I’d prefer you to try the tofu obviously!
A special mention must also go to the festival dumpling sides from the main menu. They were totally worth breaking my diet for! They’re soft and doughy and absolutely delicious dipped into a bit of spicy sauce!
We had the dumplings in place of dessert. The vegan friendly chilli chocolate brownie sounded delicious but I couldn’t have eaten another morsel!
I was really impressed with Turtle Bay’s Vegan Festive Menu. The dishes are imaginative with exciting flavours. There isn’t an obligatory nut roast in sight!
If you are lucky enough to live somewhere permitting dining out it’s well worth considering a Christmas visit to Turtle Bay.