TURTLE BAY BIRMINGHAM: A CARIBBEAN RAY OF SUNSHINE


Turtle Bay is a newish Caribbean bar and restaurant on trendy John Bright Street in Birmingham City Centre (near New Street Station). It sits opposite Cherry Reds and next to craft beer pub Brew Dog, a ray of finery not seen in the area since time began:)

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Now, Caribbean food isn’t likely to be the first type of food that a vegetarian or vegan may chose for that night out, but Turtle Bay ticks many boxes for me. It has a bar..tick. It has a lively atmosphere..tick..sometimes…it has a good menu, well on paper at least..double tick:) it has got good veggie and vegan options, and though a small chain, is actually very good:)

Turtle bay offers cocktails and good food at very reasonable prices. The trendy location is ideal for its punchy cocktails and happy atmosphere. Turtle Bay is a good time place, and in this warm weather, its terrace was heaving on a sunny Saturday night.

The bar/restaurant is full of vibrant colours. It’s a very large space and feels like a beach shack, with its corrugated iron roof structure and light shades that give it a subtle intimacy. There is urban art on the walls, ads for rums and Red Stripe lager and has a trendy vibe that holds a buzz all evening. If that is for you, you are sure in the right place:)

The first thing you notice when you walk in apart from people enjoying themselves is the island style bar that appears a hive of cocktail activity.

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Turtle Bay offers an impressive list of cocktails and non alcoholic cocktails and drinks. See website for full list. The drinks are the thing, and the bar though busy appears to be spacious. The service at the bar is quick, it appears the choosing of cocktails is to be expected:) which is good because there is a lot to get through.

Priced at £6.95 they are decent value. They run a happy hour from midday to 7pm and then from 10pm to close. There is a 2-4-1 deal on too.

I chose a Marley Mojito,which is Appleton special rum, Midori, fresh mint, water melon and home made ginger beer, it was very good, with a nice punch with a good freshness through the watermelon and mint, though with maybe too much ice for my liking, which took away the rum flavour a bit. A good way to begin the night.

Ruth chose to try the Jamaican Red Stripe shandy and home made ginger beer. It was delicious she said. She also tried the home made ginger beer that came in its own bottle which we both thought was a nice touch.

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We both liked the bar and felt it would work well with bar snacks and a cocktail or just for drinks.

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We were then taken to our seats which was in a quieter elevated group of tables looking out on the restaurant.

For starters/cutters we both decided to have two vegetarian dishes. Ruth chose the sweet corn fritters and I chose the so called Trini doubles which were two roti with curried Trini chick peas, cucumber, chutney and coconut.

Both were very good, the sweet corn fritters were a good shape, well flavoured and were good with a hot sauce. My Trini doubles were well flavoured with a subtle curry flavour that was good finger food and would go well in the bar for a snack. We both thought that Turtle Bay should introduce a veggie platter to share as the portions taken in isolation were quite large. Maybe served with some flat bread. 🙂

For my main course I chose the Rastafari Rundown: this was a lovely dish, with butter beans. Corn cob, greens, carrots, sweet potatoes, fried dumplings, herbs, coconut, with rice N’ peas.

It was a lovely rustic dish, served in a decorative bowl with lovely curry flavours. It was well cooked, the rice N’ peas were beautiful and as a whole was a brilliant choice. Though maybe the dumplings were slightly over cooked.

We also orders some sweet plaintain to share which enhanced the food no end and was lovely.

I also ordered a Jamaican Red Stripe lager with my food which complimented the curry flavours of my main course well.

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For desert we chose to share the Caymana Rum Cake which was so lovely I forgot to take a photo:) it was warm and golden with a mellow rum flavour, served with a caramel and vanilla ice cream, a tremendous pudding.

We then ordered a rum for me (a Santa Teresa Gran Reserve) and a fresh mint tea for Ruth, both good and both to be recommended. The tea came in a super red teapot, which we liked:)

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The service throughout our meal was excellent, it was non intrusive and friendly and offered advice on the menu and my rum:) in an upbeat way and dealt very well with the busyness of a Saturday night, to the point where you didn’t feel rushed or neglected.

Turtle Bay then ticks the boxes well. It’s a vibrant and buzzy place, a place for a celebration, and a place for two to relax. It’s maybe noisy at times, but it offers a unique dining experience. Caribbean restaurants are few and far between in Birmingham, Turtle Bay strikes the right chord and has developed something new, with the added bonus that you will be well fed (yes veggies us too:)) in a colourful cocktail fuelled environment, on a buzzing mainly pedestrianised John Bright Street. What’s not to like? 🙂

Turtle Bay
John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BL

0121 643 1303

@Turtlebay

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Tasty Morsels: New Pop Up’s.


There are a few pop up’s on top of the ones at Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath doing the rounds at the moment. The one’s I like the look of are the ones that give different types of food a chance.

Over the next few weeks sees two such pop up’s.

1. 63 Islands Caribbean are a new caterer cooking dishes influenced by the Spanish, French, Dutch and Indian settlers to the Caribbean. They have a pop up at Cherry Reds on John Bright Street in the city centre near the Alex Theatre and Turtle Bay serving their food on the 28th July from 6.30pm. They do have a veggie and vegan options.

There is:

1 starter a Spicy Pumpkin Soup
1 main a dish called Channa (spiced chick peas) served with coconut, infused rice and peas or flatbread (roti).

Plus a few side orders including plaintain and spicy pickled coleslaw and flatbread (roti) which are all vegan as are the chickpeas.

Contact 0121 643 5716 for details and reservations.
@63_Islands for menus.
@Ilovecherryreds

2. Pika Pika (whom I’ve mentioned as being at The Hare and Hounds Kings Heath foodie nights on the 24th July see previous post) are a Japanese Catering group who specialise in serving Oriental Fusion Cuisine.

Pika Pika have another pop up evening on Wednesday 30th July 2014 at The Ort Cafe in Balsall Heath/Moseley area. They will be providing an authentic Japanese pop up dinner experience which again includes veggie and vegan options on the menu. This takes place on the 30th July from 6-9pm.

Reservations are recommended email josie@ortcafe.co.uk or call 07845 083 322.

wwww.ortcafe.co.uk/pika-pika-pop-up
@wearepikapika
http://www.wearepikapika.tumblr.com

If I have more information at any point on menus for Pika Pika I will update the post.

Pika Pika will also be testing their culinary skills at a pop up at Cherry Reds in Kings Heath on 11th August 2014. I will keep an eye and post the menu in due course.

Finally, Cherry Reds again (busy people :)) have a pop up kitchen in their John Bright Street cafe on the last Monday of the month. This will be a different street food vendor every month. Watch this space for updates and check on their website http://www.cherryreds.com for details.

Plus, every Wednesday Cherry Reds in John Bright Street are offering a bottle of house wine with every purchase from the menu. Sounds a bargain. 🙂

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The Victoria: A seriously superb pub


For a spontaneous ‘let’s eat out’ moment, nothing is better than a good old pub- one that does good food- one that does good drink!

In Birmingham we are lucky we have a few. One that I hadn’t eaten at though is The Victoria on John Bright Street in the city centre near the Alexandra theatre. Now John Bright street is becoming a cool place. Not only does The Victoria sit comfortably there, but new Caribbean restaurant and bar Turtle Bay, Brew Dog craft beer bar, and Cherry Reds also line up in harmony on an up and coming street. A feast of good food and good drinks.

The Victoria is a theatre pub, dating back to the end of the 19 Century. It has plenty of character and according to its website its own ghost.

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Well let’s just say there are no ghosts In their food or drink when we visited on a mid week evening.

The Victoria offers quality hand picked wines, cask ales and some superb sounding cocktails. It is listed on Birmingham’s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) website and for a real ale fan like myself it’s a superb place to try out new cask beers. The ‘Sleepless’ ale that I tried along with their Otley ale were superb. Both different but both superb for drinking alone or in my case with food. Both hoppy, both with a superb character. Ruth chose a couple of glasses of excellent Chenin Blanc which she enjoyed.

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The food at The Victoria has recently been taken over by Vicky’s Kitchen, with a range of authentic gourmet sourdough based pizzas (2 vegetarian options) burgers (1 option) and salads and numerous bar snacks.

The food is made fresh in house with a quality rarely seen in pubs I find. After all it’s all in the ingredients and fine dining doesn’t just mean white table cloths and linen. Vicky’s Kitchen at The Victoria certainly executes food well and it’s hearty and generous in portion size too. Good hearty pub food. Perfect!

I ordered a burger called ‘Animal Friendly’ which was a salted courgette and beetroot, carrot, toasted almonds, mixed herbs, lettuce, tomato, onion and chipotle mayo with sweet potato fries and a side of onion rings to share with Ruth.

The veggie burger was superb, served in a brioche bun, with fennel coleslaw. The flavours of the beetroot and courgette complimented each other well and gave a lovely contrasting flavour with the beautiful mayo and fennel coleslaw, which was lovely spread in the bun on the lettuce. It was one of the best burgers I have had anywhere, made more delicious by the brioche bun which was firm and fresh and didn’t fall apart and held the burger to the end. Bonus! The fries were crispy and tasted subtly of sweet potato they were ok. The onion rings were delicious, a good idea to order them as a side. They are handmade, crispy and soul foodie.

It was the burgers though we had come to taste, so the pizza will have to wait for another day:).

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At The Victoria you can’t fail to be seduced and impressed by the Victorian decor. It’s colourful and arty, with a quirky feel. It’s traditional in feel, but search deeper then you will find a twist with quirky furniture and art which is very bohemian with a wooden hand designed arty feel.

The bar staff are warm and friendly. They are very knowledgable offering advice and samples of the beer before you buy. I have been told the bar staff make superb cocktails which we will have to try out at another time. See website for details on drinks and menus.

The Victoria may be tucked away slightly, but its a memorable place to wile away a few hours or get a quick lunch. It’s a great independent, very bohemian and friendly with a young and cool crowd, a local to re visit.

With such a good food and drinks menu it would be foolish not to.

Next stop pizza and cocktails 🙂

The Victoria
48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

0121 633 9439

http://www.thevictoriabirmingham.co.uk

@thevictoria

http://www.independent-Birmingham.co.uk/the-Victoria/

For entertainment and events at The Victoria see their website for details or Facebook or twitter.

You can get 20% off with the independent Birmingham card from Sunday to Thursday.

The Victoria is part of the Bitters ‘n’ Twisted venues which also include Bodega, Island Bar, the Jekyl and Hyde, and the Rose Villa Tavern.

You can obtain a loyalty card for these venues on the website of the venues. This gives you top deals on food and drinks across the six venues.

http://www.bitterstwisted.co.uk