Turtle Bay Northern Quarter, 46-50 Oldham St, Manchester, M4 1LE – Visit Now
I waved seriously to my co-reviewer as he appeared in the distance. I was standing outside Turtle Bay, having a particular type of cigarette: the one you have just before a huge feast.
We settled in with our cocktails, like ladies after work, except we were two blokes. It doesn’t matter: cocktails are blind to gender and only want to entertain, which these carried off to a tee. In some places there are only cocktails because someone thinks there should be, but here the cocktails are a key part of the dining event. With Turtle Bay, if you’re going in, you’re going all in. Readers should adopt this attitude. It’s a clashing, flashing, living space.
Along came the generous sharing platter. There was a tasty flatbread accompanied by some nice crispy fritters, but the double-act here is the tender squid, in breadcrumbs and a lime sauce, and the whitebait, you know, those little fish fried whole and eaten whole. Have no qualms here: they are delicious and must be tried.
The goat came apart like it was saying hello
For mains we had the curry goat and the jerk beef. These dishes are so earthy and rich. Even the rice has those extra beans in it. A fat dumpling sat on the curry goat and soaked up that strong green curry sauce. The jerk beef had plantain fries. Everything oozes spice and flavour. The goat came apart like it was saying hello.
We got up a map of the Caribbean on one of our phones and had a look at the lines of culinary contact that pass into the region. In our righteous spicy haze, we decided that Caribbean cooking is essentially the pursuit of the most satisfying dishes possible, and a kind of stand for life and colour against the miseries inflicted on the peoples by history and power. No miserable food would stand a chance on those islands.
Caribbean cooking is essentially the pursuit of the most satisfying dishes possible
The staff are also commendably keen and informative, and it tells you something when people seem happy to be on their feet all day helping, for example, two sweaty men to choose which huge plates of joy they’re going to have.