When Turtle Bay first announced they were opening in Sheffield the press release promised the restaurant would ‘bring some Caribbean warmth and sunshine to the Steel City’.
Given my dining companion and unLTD writer Joe Bamford and I headed to the venue slap bang in the middle of the current heatwave, they’ve certainly lived up to those warm words.
Based at the former NUM building adjacent to Sheffield City Hall, the new venue was also hailed as ‘one of Turtle Bay’s most ambitious transformations’, with a bespoke design, making it unique to Sheffield.
They’ve delivered here, too with a ‘contemporary and smart take on the Caribbean’, featuring a colourfully-lit open street kitchen – which we were seated right in front of – and an island beach bar, all enhanced by neon signs and fabulous mural art. (My personal fave is upstairs with the tag ‘Hellshire comes to Hallamshire’.)
But what of the most important factor of all – the food.
It’s a third tasty tick in a row. I’d sampled a few of the starters at the opening night including sweet corn fritters and beef patties – and the former were so good I forgot I didn’t actually like sweetcorn – so heading back for a three-course feast I had high hopes.
Cocktails are 2-4-1 til 7pm so it would be rude not to plump for one as an aperitif. We opted for vanilla and passionfruit mojitos, which were a delicious twist on the classic.
And speaking of twists, for the starters (or ‘cutters’ – (inspired by Beach Shacks and Street Hawkers of the Caribbean Islands and ideal for sharing), Joe went for his favourite whitebait and loved the fresh lime and jerk mayo accompaniment – a smoky take on tartar sauce. I opted for trini doubles, roti flatbreads which were delicious and doughy mopping up curried chickpeas and mango chutney topped off with coconut shavings. The dish was also vegan and I was impressed by the selection of dishes available for vegetarians, vegans and gluten free diners.
Joe had tried the goat curry at the opening so, despite initially wavering over the extensive choice of mains – beach burger, jerk pit BBQ, wraps and toasties, and salads – knew he had to go for the goat curry one pot. And one huge pot it was, too. He did not regret it. He’s still talking about the dumplings now.
Salmon is probably my favourite fish but I like it very well-cooked so I chose the jerk pit salmon steak. The crispy skin was cracking, in both senses, and I chose to swap the four grain salad for rice and beans.
Time for another cheeky cocktail ahead of dessert and we went for Rude Boys (rum, Barbados clove liquor, bitters and fresh lime). The citrus tang was perfect for puddings – passionfruit pie for Joe and banoffee and toffee cheese cake for me (which was more through luck than design, but we pretended was a deliberate decision on dessert and drinks).
The staff were friendly and attentive, and it was a pleasure to sit and dine in a restaurant that was buzzing and busy on a mid-week night. Much is being done to encourage people to stay in the city centre after work with initiatives like Sheffield Alive After 5 (‘It’s not home time, it’s own time’) and Turtle Bay have offered a vibrant new venue to do just that.