Having never been to a Caribbean restaurant before, I was expecting flavour, atmosphere and plenty of rum.
And that is exactly what I got at Turtle Bay in Crawley, the town’s first authentic Caribbean dining and drinking experience.
The restaurant claims it delivers a hedonistic combination of joyous food, delightful drinks and a fun, laidback atmosphere for its customers - and they really do.
Turtle Bay features a large restaurant space, central island bar, and indoor ‘veranda’ style drinking spaces. And what I first noticed was the diverse mix of customers - there were people who clearly came straight from work, there were couples, there were groups of young people.
This made for a lovely atmosphere.
The decor is also fantastic with corrugated iron walls, decking, Bob Marley artwork, an Island bar and even Red Stripe cans as lights.
it was also the first time I have experienced sweet potato fries - I will certainly have them again
And then there is the food. Turtle Bay boasts more than 50 authentic Caribbean dishes on its menu.
For the starters I went for the Jerk Pit Prawns - Whole shell-on jerk pit grilled king prawns, herb, chilli & garlic butter, flatbread (£5.95). I was expecting the spice to be burn-your-mouth hot, but it was a bit of a slow burner. The prawns were so flavoursome and I do love a bit of flatbread soaked in grease and sauce!
My wife Amanda went for the Duck Rolls - Shredded duck, onion, tamarind, soy sauce, chilli & sugarcane, sour orange chutney - which again were tasty and the chutney had a kick to it.
Choosing the main course was a harder choice. The One Pots (Rich, slowly simmered, and uniquely Caribbean. All dishes £9.65 each) looked very appealing but I plumped for the Double Dipped Steak - Grilled jerk marinated steak, sweet onion chutney Caribbean slaw, sweet potato mash or sweet potato fries (£14.25) from the Jerk Pit BBQ menu.
It was a thick, succulent piece of steak covered in a spicy and aromatic sauce. And it was also the first time I have experienced sweet potato fries - I will certainly have them again.
Amanda chose the Salmon Salad - a Jerk spice glazed salmon fillet, dressed rocket, baby gem, tomatoes, carrots, cucumber & raisins, fresh watermelon. Another tasty meal delivered on a wooden chopping board.
For pudding we went for the BBQ Pineapple (Grilled sugared pineapple, rum caramel sauce, coconut shavings, coconut ice cream) and the Banana & Toffee Cheesecake with Rum caramel sauce.
A lovely way to end the the meal.
But what else would you expect from a Caribbean restaurant? That’s right, cocktails.
And luckily we were there during Happy Hour where it was buy one get one free.
They have a great range of cocktails including Marley Mojito: Appleton Special rum, midori, fresh mint & watermelon, home-made ginger beer; Tobago Tea: Rum, tequila, vodka, gin, triple sec, fresh lemon, mango & lemonade and Bahama Mama: Frozen blend of dark rum, blackberry and banana liqueur, grenadine and pineapple.
Turtle Bay is a fun night out with tasty food, classic cocktails and an incredible atmosphere.