Turtle Bay is a restaurant chain across the UK, one that is not really seen in London with branches only in Ealing, Croydon and Walthamstow. Their most recent opening in the UK was a branch in Peterborough so a lot of my friends from there have recently been discussing the restaurant. With tonight’s get together with friends needing a location for our meet up, we decided Turtle Bay in Milton Keynes was the place to be.
I have been a few times to this branch, a place that brings a taste of the Caribbean to Milton Keynes. It is a modern, colourful, funky restaurant with a bar ideally located in the middle from which the 2-4-1 cocktails can easily flow during happy hour (nights at Turtle Bay have been known to get far messier than intended due to the happy hour 😳).
Tonight was a last minute plan so we turned up without booking, not thinking it would be a problem for three on a Wednesday night at 6pm. They hesitated though when we said we had no booking but then quickly seated us but I would advise on booking ahead given their reaction!
Upon asking about the gluten free menu I was told that everything was marked on the normal menu with a GF or GFO if the meal could be adapted. The waiter seating us told me not to order the burgers as the GFO meant no burger and I’d basically be ordering no food! I assume that means that the burger comes on its own without a bun – and not literally no burger 😂 – but a welcome heads up with lots of other options available.
On this occasion we skipped starters, opting for mains. There were several things marked as gluten free that sounded great but as the chips weren’t gluten free I didn’t fancy them with a side of rice – think steak or ribs type of meals. The sides are the most disappointing part of Turtle Bay’s menu to me as their fries and sweet potato fries aren’t safe. They have rice, Caribbean slaw or sweet potato mash so there are still several options but it’s not the same on some meals and meant I decided to have something that would naturally be served with rice. I was also worried as I’m sure I’ve ordered off the ‘jerk’ menu before, perhaps the jerk salmon and it was hotter than I can handle!
Tonight I opted for the Trinidad chicken and coconut curry – chicken breast slowly simmered with coconut milk, fresh mango and coconut, Caribbean spices, garlic, scotch bonnet, served with coconut rice n peas and flatbread. This was a GFO and all they had to do was omit the flatbread and the waitress told me that it was separate to my food so rather than removing it my friends could have the bread so there was a level of understanding of cross contamination before she was asked. Now the big question was did you notice how the meal description casually has scotch bonnet written in the middle of it and how easy it is to skim read past that?! I did spot it the second time of reading when I was trying to work out what was likely to be adapted on my dish but the nod towards the curry being spicy could easily have been missed! The one pot curry turned out to be absolutely delicious with so much flavour – it was a bit spicy but it was not too overwhelming for me and the chicken was so tender and tasty. The coconut and mango also added lots of textures to the meal really adding to the enjoyment. I would definitely recommend this dish (unless you like food with no spice at all!)
Having skipped starters there was plenty of room for dessert and there were two GF desserts on the menu to pick from, a spiced rum and chocolate pot (which would normally have been my choice but the thought of anything spiced after my curry put me off!) or a dark chocolate brownie. I know it’s not the desired choice anymore by most coeliacs after an abundance of gluten free brownies popping up everywhere but I can confirm that it was a good one – super gooey, rich and indulgent with a side of icecream.
My friends and I love Turtle Bay. The staff were so friendly and helpful, the place has such a cool vibe, tasty food and mega cocktails that are even better during happy hour! A few small additions to the menu of safe fries and some gluten free buns for burgers would make it even better on the food front so coeliacs could pick exactly what they want. However, we thoroughly enjoyed our evening and we will be back, maybe when we have the following day off to take full advantage of the cocktail menu!