With our resident culture correspondent, Bella Bartock, laid up because of the hot summer weather, her grandson, BILL BARTOCK, strolled along to a town centre cocktail bar to sample their take on typically tropical drinks
Since opening two years ago, Turtle Bay has become a mainstay on Croydon High Street. It is a welcome swap for Tiger Tiger, reducing the number of half-naked teenagers roaming the town centre on weekend nights, and has resulted in fewer boxes of part-eaten fried chicken strewn in the streets in the mornings.
For Turtle Bay offers its own range of tasty Caribbean food (including its own delicious chicken) in an easy-going, vibrant atmosphere, making it one of most fun spots to eat and drink in Croydon.
Yes, you can find the lively, warm-coloured set up in the chain’s 42 other outlets across the country. It certainly doesn’t offer as unique décor as Croydon’s (other) Little Bay. But there’s a lot to be said for its welcoming vibe. Croydon’s Turtle Bay has character, much of it imparted thanks to the hard-working, friendly staff.
They are among the most relaxed and personable you will get. That may well be a result of being forced to listen to reggae every night. Nothing appears to compromise their attentiveness and knowledge of the food and drink available.
There’s soon to be a new cocktail bar offer, they’ve tagged it “VIP”, aimed at drawing in passing trade who might not require the full dining experience.
The cocktail bar at the entrance is great for a low-key drink before moving to your table, or alternatively, for making the most of their 2 for 1 happy hours (from 11.30am-7pm and then from 10pm onwards every day).
If you do go there for the cocktails, you better like rum, which forms the base of an impressive range of well-made cocktails.
Some of their summer selection includes…
Marley Mojito: The ultimate summer drink – made from Appleton Signature Rum, green melon liquor, fresh mint, watermelon and Turtle Bay ginger beer. Refreshing and delicious.
Raspberry Reggae: A mix of dark rum, raspberries, fresh muddled lime and lemonade. Fruity.
Beachcomber’s Zombie: A tropical take on the classic party drink… Overproof, dark, white and golden rums, absinthe, pomegranate syrup and tropical juices.
And if that’s not enough sugary concoctions to satisfy your taste buds, there’s even what they call “Rum sharing boards”, a quartet of Turtle Bay rums, all served with a choice of mixer, and brough to your reserved cocktail table.
I was also grateful to have been spared the irony of being served a plastic straw in Turtle Bay. It looks like management has listened to David Attenborough (and some of the more eco-conscious Trip Advisor reviewers who had watched Planet Earth).
Suitably refreshed, we opted to move on to the food, and when it comes to Caribbean food, the proof is in the jerk chicken, some of the tastiest I’ve eaten.
In my transition to vegetarianism, I spent a year as a chickiterian; I could make a dietary exception for chicken, while maintaining my sense of self-righteousness. In this period of excessive chicken-eating, Turtle Bay’s was some of the best. God, I miss chicken.
Having visited Turtle Bay since the end of my chicken days, the vegetarian and salad options don’t compromise on flavour either. The Ital Rundown, despite being served in a comically large pot, was a coconut delight with a great blend of spices and sweet potato.
The prawns shellfishly had their skin on. Bit too crispy. Damn skin. Why do prawns have skin anyway?
Turtle Bay is deserving of its 4* Tripadvisor rating, so if you want to sample the “VIP experience” at your specially reserved cocktail table at Turtle Bay, by all means go ahead. But don’t miss out on the food…
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