Turtle Bay provides a cool Croydon cocktail of food and drink

Jerk chicken, as fine as you'll ever taste

Jerk chicken, as fine as you’ll ever taste

There’s a restaurant opening in Croydon this weekend, without having received a penny from the local council, and where you don’t need to keep your coat on while eating your meal because the venue is just soooo cold.

BELLA BARTOCK, our resident culture vulture, went along to Turtle Bay to sample the Kate Moss cocktails and the best jerk chicken she’d ever tasted

Remember all that fuss when Tiger Tiger closed down? Me neither. That’s the thing with the food and drink trade, it can’t stand still, and venues need to constantly re-invent themselves.

So off I toddled to Turtle Bay, in that bit of the Grant’s “Entertainment Centre” on the High Street which was once Tiger. The press night for the Croydon branch of this Caribbean restaurant chain was Wednesday, Burns’ Night, and so I was heftily relieved that there was no jerk haggis on offer.

The busy bar in the new Turtle Bay restaurant in Croydon

The busy bar in the new Turtle Bay restaurant in Croydon

Instead, what was served up for us was fantastic.

And this is not a one-trick kitchen, either.

You enter the restaurant to a circular bar, which creates an open space to watch Turtle Bay’s skilled cocktail-makers shake their stuff, and delight you with their tropical blends. This is a place which will be having a seven-and-a-half-hour-long “Happy Hour” each day, and then some more two-for-one offers from 10pm, so the drinking culture is a core part of the business plan.

The Kate Moss cocktail they came up with on the night – made up of “muddled cucumber”, apparently, with vodka, lime juice and apple juice, shaken over ice and served chilled in a short martini glass – slipped down very easily.

The kitchen stands above the restaurant floor, elevated on a stage, reminding everyone that among the stylish and fun reggae décor, the food is the star of the show.

The huge range of flavours available cater for all, including vegetarians and spiceophobes. The menu includes more than 50 dishes, mostly bold and rustic, inspired by the  Caribbean. Having myself become an ethical chickiterian three months ago (yes, refusing to eat meat but, because nobody’s perfect, still eating chicken), I can say that this was the best I’d eaten since my conversion.

Turtle Bay is stylish and a welcome addition to the town centre. They didn’t lay it on too thick with the music, either.

The restaurant is at 16 High Street, and opens for business tomorrow, Sunday January 29. For more information, click here.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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