The taste of summer on Croydon High Street is Caribbean

BELLA BARTOCK, our culture correspondent, spent an evening with the dishes on Turtle Bay’s new menu, and it tasted fine

The jerk sirloin at Turtle Bay is one of the best dishes you’ll discover this summer

Summer’s here, and with it has arrived a new menu at what is fast becoming one of Croydon’s favourite restaurants.

Truth be told, every time I visit Turtle Bay, with its colourful decor amid the brown and the bland along the High Street, and its constantly welcoming staff, somehow I always seem to encounter the same couple at the bar.

“Seriously, I was using the place to do some work, out of the office,” one of them explained of a previous meeting, the last time our paths crossed over her favourite Tingwray cocktail, of which she may have already had a couple under the house’s two-for-one offer during Happy Hour.

“We just like it here because the food is always excellent, they cater for special dietary requirements, and it’s just… always good.”

I contented myself with a Jamaican Mule and turned to what I was told was the new summer menu.

In truth, many of the dishes which have helped establish Turtle Bay as a family-friendly Croydon venue serving excellent food are still there. But they’ve added a few salads more prominently to their listing – spinach, rainbow beets and watermelon seems just about right for one of the hotter lunchtimes we’ve been having during what passes for a heatwave in these parts, which with some added crispy chilli squid offers a terrific option for dinner.

The variety of jerk dishes with chicken, beef and fish makes for some difficult choices. We opted to share the Jerk Platter to start, which may have been an error of judgement because there was just soooo much for two people as a mere appetiser. Turtle Bay’s portion sizes are never skinny.

So we embarked on an express journey through wings, pork ribs, beef riblets, corn fritters, Jamaican beef patty, some delicious herb mayo and even some spice popcorn. That, at least, satisfied some of our curiosity about many of the tastes on offer on the menu which would, perforce, not get to be enjoyed, at least on this visit.

You’ll be spoiled for choice at Turtle Bay

For mains, the jerk sirloin was superbly presented and expertly cooked – the classic glaze is recommended. My companion wanted to try one of the pot dishes he’d seen and heard so much about, and he ventured on the Bajan beef cheeks. The rider to this was that it is probably a dish more suited for one of those late autumn evenings, but after six hours slowly simmering in Caribbean spice, okra, ginger cinnamon and coriander, here was meat which really did melt in the mouth.

But having been spoiled for choice, the consensus was that we really did need to return, and soon, to try some of the other elements of the menu.

After all, there must be at least 18 other cocktails I’ve yet to try.

Bella Bartock and her companion’s meals were paid for by the Turtle Bay management

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