BELLA BARTOCK, our culture vulture, has discovered an appetising alternative for the office Christmas outing
“What, another plate of turkey with all the trimmings?” my companion said, pointing at my midriff, when I suggested that she join me for a meal at a Croydon High Street restaurant to try out their Christmas menu.
“No, dear. Not a brussel sprout in sight,” I assured her. “But make sure you bring your appetite.”
We were off for the evening to Turtle Bay, which has very well-priced special offers for groups looking to party all this month on its Festive Menu, the first time that the Caribbean-themed outlet has ventured into this jingle bells territory.
Except it’s jingle bells with a calypso lilt.
My dear friend’s anxieties were allayed on arrival with a special cocktail – a mojito is always soooo soothing – and when I showed her the prices, she was even more impressed: a three-course lunch (which they serve from 11.30am until 5pm) for just £15 per person; the platters, for a booking of eight people in a specially reserved area so ideal for works parties, just £9 per head; and the all-day, four-course menu – again for eight people or more – at £24 per person. And all offering vegetarian and gluten-free options.
It was the four-course menu which we opted for, which seemed more suited for an evening’s get-together.
As we sat down in sight of the busy kitchen area, our cocktails in hand, we found garlic flatbread, trini chickpeas and spicy pork rinds – sort of pork scratchings meet Quavers – waiting for us. Very tempting. And that was before the starters.
There, the crispy chilli squid is highly recommended: light, delicious and none of the rubbery-ness you sometimes get with squid, and the lime and coriander mayo making you want more. The garlic and chilli pit king prawns, meanwhile, while tasty enough, came with shells on, making it tricky for my companion to keep the conversation flowing while peeling her food (did anyone mention walking and chewing gum at the same time?).
There’s not a turkey on the mains selection, in all senses. The half-jerk chicken is more than any one with reasonable appetite might manage, coming with rice, options such as johnnycakes, flat breads and delicious plantain. The pit salmon is highly recommended, as it flaked off the fork and had a tangy, just-barbecued flavour.
Of the pot curry dishes, both the goat and the Guyanese curry duck come with potato, rice, a strong citrus flavour and some powerful scotch bonnet. Beware the generous portions.
So much so that, we were reduced to swerving the chocolate brownie and banana and toffee cheesecake for sweet, and relied on a sorbet ice cream before tripping off into the night. The service throughout was always attentive, without ever becoming intrusive and fussy. And the background music never once resorted to Wizzard or Noddy Holder, thank goodness…
“You know, Bella, I really enjoyed that,” my companion said. “It really would be such a refreshing change for the office Christmas party. I’ll put in a word with the boss at Inside Croydon Towers, and see what he says…”
And with that, she was gone, swaying down the High Street in the direction of the Flyover. My guess is, she’ll be back.
- Turtle Bay is at 16, Croydon High Street (in the Grants building), CR0 1GT. Christmas party bookings of eight people or more need to be made in advance, either by phoning 020 8686 4101 or emailing email@example.com
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