With the arrival of Turtle Bay alongside the River Wear, Durham has immediately upped it’s game. I love Durham so it’s great to see a national powerhouse setting up for Durham’s revival. With the additions of the Riverwalk and the under-construction Milburngate, Durham is the perfect place to visit. No more admiring the beautiful city from a train window as you pass through to Newcastle or York.
For those not in the know, Turtle Bay is a Caribbean bar and restaurant serving up soul food alongside their infamous 2 for 1 (not from 7pm to 9:30pm/10pm on Fridays and Saturdays) cocktails. We’re talking jerk chicken, baby back ribs, curried goat and sweet plantain plus plenty of options for vegetarians/vegans too. I’ve been a few times previously when I lived in York so I’m really excited for this to be on my doorstep.
I was very kindly invited to check out Turtle Bay ahead of the official opening day and let me say that Turtle Bay know how to throw a good party. We were treated to authentic live music which really helped the atmosphere. From 8pm, some of the tables downstairs were removed to make way for the dancefloor.
Where do we start with the food? Everything we tried was amazing; it was such a shame to share with others as I easily could have eaten more! This is what we tried: crispy chilli squid, garlic pit prawns, sweetcorn fritters, jerk pit wings, bay jerk chicken, baby back ribs, curry goat, curry aubergine, spiced fries, rice and plantain. My favourites were without doubt the sweetcorn fritters, baby back ribs and, surprisingly, the curry goat and plantain! An honourable mention needs to go to the desserts too. I’d always always always choose a starter over a dessert but Turtle Bay’s desserts would put a little doubt in the back of my mind. The banana toffee cheesecake was my pick of the bunch as well as the vegan vanilla ice cream!
The menu is extensive so I am sure you will certainly find something that you will love. I’m definitely going to try the fresh roti filled with pulled jerk chicken as well as one of the burgers.
As one of the most authentic Caribbean restaurants in the UK, it would be silly for Turtle Bay not to include Red Stripe beer on draught. Turtle Bay are not silly. I love Red Stripe and it helps with that little bit of escapism; those first sips of a freshly poured pint transport you straight to Jamaica.
Anyway, don’t worry if you’re not a beer drinker, there’s plenty of alcohol on offer here with a huge range of cocktails. I mentioned earlier that during Happy Hour the cocktails are 2 for 1 (on the same cocktail) so there’s no reason not to try a few different ones. My favourites were the Rum Runner (white rum, amaretto & banana liqueur, fresh lime, grapefruit and raspberry) and, most surprising of all now that I apparently love coffee, the Jamaican Wake Up (tia maria, vanilla, coconut milk & cold brew coffee).
The square bar downstairs is a great size and can be accessed from three different sides; though I imagine the queue may build up when you’re waiting for cocktail orders. That’s definitely one thing I don’t miss post-Covid – I’m definitely one for table service. Turtle Bay’s attentive staff will definitely look after you, someone was always available when we wanted something. Upstairs, the fun continues in the D’Rum Room where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the cathedral on the balcony (Turtle Bay’s only restaurant with a balcony!) after you’ve managed to settle on one of the many, many rums on offer.
Turtle Bay isn’t just a place where the party never seems to stop; it’s opening hours are:
Sunday to Wednesday 10am to 11pm
Thursday 10am to 12am
Friday and Saturdays are 10am to 1am.
As you can see, it’s open early for breakfast and brunch which means it’d be rude not to take advantage of the Bay Breakfast Club or the Bottomless Brunch. I can easily see Turtle Bay becoming the go to place for Bottomless Brunch; it even includes draught Red Stripe which is right up my street. Turtle Bay however doesn’t just market itself solely on the ‘day drinking/night out’ scene. I’ve said above just how good the food was here so I’d easily recommend coming here just for a meal (there’s a children’s menu too). The staff were extremely friendly and helpful so you’ll feel welcomed no matter whether you’re on a date, out with friends or the family. Turtle Bay is an all round brilliant addition to Durham and I for one cannot wait to go back!
I was invited to Turtle Bay and received complimentary food and drink however all opinions are my own.