I was born a fussy eater and stayed that way right through until my early twenties – it’s crazy to think I used to pretty much only go to Italian restaurants for dinner when, now, I would much rather chow down on a Mexican feast…or Indian, Thai, Japanese…I am so hungry as I write this. However, Caribbean food is something I’ve never really experimented with so when I was invited to the Southampton Bloggers event at Turtle Bay I was excited to give it a go and try their menu alongside experiencing their cocktails and very pleasantly surprised when I found there to be dominoes and Jenga at the table!
At Turtle Bay, you are now able to book tables for cocktails even if you don’t want to order food which is very useful as this place is packed out every time I walk past (one of the reasons I’ve never been in for drinks!) and if you ask for recommendations of places to sip down a selection of cocktails locally, so many people will suggest Turtle Bay – it’s also much closer to my house to where I usually go so this is very good news, particularly if there’s going to be a large group of you and you don’t want to be disappointed and unable to fit in anywhere, especially on a weekend. They’ve revamped their menu recently and the cocktail menu is pretty damn extensive. Plus, the dietary requirements are labelled extremely well and the selection for vegetarian and vegan diners/drinkers has expanded a lot – at Turtle Bay, they even label the cocktails that are vegan which I don’t think I’ve seen elsewhere before (usually you’d just have to ask staff to confirm ingredients) and I know this is going to be much appreciated by the Vegan community as, not only does it make the options very clear, but it also shows that they know exactly what they’re serving as many restaurants and bars are still unclear on what is and isn’t vegan when it comes to the ingredients they’re using so this was really impressive.
We started with a Side-Chick Martini – a close relation to the Porn Star Martini but, this time, with a bubbly side of Prosecco alongside. Vodka is mixed with passion fruit, vanilla and orange juice, making for a super tasty and fruity mix. We slurped these down and soon our food was arriving…again, and again. There was an army of plates coming to the table, the food seemed to just not stop arriving! Always a good sign if you are a fellow piggy as I am. I’m vegetarian so I skipped past the meat dishes to dive right into the veggie platter which was offering sweet corn fritters, crispy okra, jerk pit grilled mushroom & peppers with spicy jerk, halloumi and mango flatbread, plantain plus a super green salad. Alongside this, we also had grilled jerk halloumi, garlic flat bread, houmous, smashed avocado, dirty curry fries, sweet potato fries, crumbed plantain, bara roti and a few bowls on sunshine quinoa…Yep, a lot of things. All delicious but I definitely ate my weight in sweet corn fritters and scavenged as much halloumi as possible – I love eating in ‘tapas form’ like this as it means you get to try a load of different things, even if next time you just pick your favourites and go for those it really was a great way to experience Turtle Bay for the first time so if you’re going to get anything to eat alongside your cocktails then definitely order yourselves a platter (or a few if you’re in a group!)
I’m not a massive drinker of spirits these days so on the next round I opted to try the Virgin Kolada which was a vegan frozen blend of coconut milk, coconut syrup and pineapple juice – totally refreshing after munching down all that food. After that, I chose the Funky Kingston which contains Martini Rosso, strawberry, grapefruit crush, lemon juice and prosecco. Prosecco is my alcohol of choice so this one stood out to me from the crowd! They serve a large variety of rum cocktails so if you’re a rum fan then you could easily spend the night making your way through this cocktail menu! They serve classic cocktails, new inventions and a mix of both with a modern twist so there’s something for everybody. They are £7.25 each (£4.50 for alcohol free) but if you hit up Turtle Bay at the right time during Happy Hour then they’re all two for one…and who doesn’t love a two for one deal!?
We closed off the night with our choice of their brand new shooters – sort of like a double shot but much softer as they aren’t straight spirits so think of them like little tiny cocktails! These are only £4 each (or six for £22 if you’re in a group) and I stuck with my fruity theme of the evening, opting for the vegan Ghetto Girl which is vodka mixed with passion fruit liquor, watermelon and apple juice – still strong, but soft and fruity and the same time so you have the option to sip or shot them without gagging. Definitely classier than a Jägerbomb if you’re feelin’ fancy!
To get the full vibe of the evening and a proper look at all the food and drink it involved, make sure to check out the full Vlog via my YouTube channel:
All the images used in this post are stills from this video.