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FIRST LOOK: Turtle Bay Restaurant, Oxford Street

L'Oréal Blackett sneaks a peak inside Manchester's new Caribbean rum and jerk joint.

Written by . Published on May 28th 2014.

FIRST LOOK: Turtle Bay Restaurant, Oxford Street

AT PRESENT, Confidential does not have a Caribbean restaurant category in its food and drink section.

Because Manchester has perhaps one proper Caribbean restaurant, Marleys in Rusholme (reviewed here). The rest are glorified takeaways.

New Caribbean restaurant, Turtle Bay, is probably the most lavish offering the city has seen so far.

A mural of Bob Marley will look over diners as they indulge in the jerk-centred menu, which includes favourites such as jerk ribs, Blue Mountain curry goat, trini doubles, Rastafari rundown and 'buss up shut' roti.

Taking over the Alibi spot on Oxford Street, it’s an impressive £1m renovation, using reclaimed materials championing both the carnival colour rich themes of the Caribbean islands and Manchester’s industrialised heritage. Think sugar-cane cans and steel drums as light fixtures, shipping containers as party booths, a collection of old stereos as interior decoration and bus seats to lounge across in the bar area.

Dsc_0226Inside Turtle Bay

A mural of Bob Marley will look over diners as they indulge in the jerk-centred menu, which includes favourites such as jerk ribs, Blue Mountain curry goat, trini doubles, Rastafari rundown and 'buss up shut' roti. These authentic Caribbean dishes will sit alongside now ubiquitous restaurant favourites such as pulled pork and the immortal burger, reworked to fit the island spice theme. 

On first impressions, there's no immediate reason why Turtle Bay won't capture the Caribbean party atmosphere and provide a much needed flavourful addition to the city centre restaurant scene - the 70-strong rum stocked bar will help. 

The attention to small detail gives Turtle Bay personality, and importantly, a fine finish that is missing in smaller Caribbean establishments. Of course, as a chain brand with restaurants across the country, there's high expectations for Turtle Bay to deliver. 

Speaking before opening (May 30) and Thursday's launch party, Ajith Jayawickrema, Turtle Bay Founder, said: “We can’t wait to throw the doors open to Manchester.

"Turtle Bay is about great food and good times, simple as that. We think the people of Manchester will love what we have to offer, as it’s a city known for its no nonsense approach to high quality food and drink, and of course one that knows how to have a good time. We think we’ll fit in well in our new home.”

Turtle Bay Manchester  33-35 Oxford Street. M14 BH.


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25 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

bigearsMay 28th 2014.

Went yesterday and pretty poor really. Squid rubbery and soggy crumb, ribs and sweet potato fries cold and had to be sent back. Next batch was a battle getting the meat off the bone. Service with a smile but food hit and miss. Will give it another go but not expecting big things.

9 Responses: Reply To This...
Chase RexMay 28th 2014.

Probably a bit early to be this rude BigEars, give it chance eh?

bigearsMay 28th 2014.

not being rude, just giving my opinion to my experience?!

AVOMay 28th 2014.

You could forgive slip shod service or unfinished decor when a place first opens but surely the food should be spot on from the start. I know this place has had at least one soft opening night where the food was served free of charge so by the time they were fully open, the food should be spot on.

Gar BMay 28th 2014.

Hey BIGEARS get out of the bed the wrong side today then? I ate at the restaurant on Sunday and had a totally different experience. Fabulous quality food,excellent service and great ambiance. This restaurant is creative, dynamic and different. It offers fresh, high quality authentic Caribbean food at realistic and affordable prices. A great venue to enhance the multi cultural cuisine for the Manchester Community. Bigears must have got his food free during the tester period, but seriously check this place out when it goes public from Friday. If you like spicy and different you'll love this place. Cocktails to die for. Enjoy as we did.

AnonymousMay 28th 2014.

Seems impartial

AVOMay 28th 2014.

Sounds like a soundbite from a Turtle Bay press release.

AnonymousMay 29th 2014.

I've passed by every day this week and they were clearly still doing staff training, so it really is too early for a review of any kind. Regardless, Carribean food is overrated so I won't be eating at a Carribean themed restaurant. It looks like TGI with a wig on. An Afro-wig at that.

Henry VMay 29th 2014.

Gar B is definately on the staff. It was 'the cocktails are to die for' line that finally did it for me... Have actually heard a few good things though to be fair.

AnonymousMay 29th 2014.

I thought to die for was banned on this site

bigearsMay 29th 2014.

Gar B - No, I didn't get out of the bed on the wrong side, just a poor dining experience. Yes, it was a comped meal (we left a large tip) but that doesn't mean it should be shoddy. 2 of my dining companions eat Saturday and Sunday and enjoyed it but my experience was completely different. I think if you are going to do an opening you should get it right from the start, not give cold, greasy food. Lazy Chefs trying to pull the wool over my eyes is something I can't stand!

Grandma PMay 29th 2014.

Surely the whole purpose of a soft opening is to allow the restaurant to get the kitchen and the front of house operation up to scratch, before welcoming the paying public? It seems incredibly ungracious to post a damning review of a meal you were given free of charge because it couldn't be expected to be perfect! You seem a little bitter Bigears. I feel strangely sad for you.

bigearsMay 29th 2014.

Grandma P - I am not bitter in any way shape or form. How can you condemn having to wait 35 minutes from starter to main and then when it comes it is freezing cold??? It is not a damning review at all, it is my opinion and if you read my "review" it says i will go again. The amount of Chefs that were there surely they could make sure the food was warm?? I dont mind food not up to scratch but cold, sorry but there is no excuse in my eyes.

AliceMay 29th 2014.

I love the one in MK and was sad they had nothing north of Nottingham. Hope it's up to scratch!

AnonymousMay 29th 2014.


1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 29th 2014.

...why are you shouting?

Gar BMay 29th 2014.

Sadly Henry V I am not on the staff nor have anything to do with the press. Just wanted to give a balanced perspective. Hope your next visit Bigears will be as pleasurable as mine was.

bigearsMay 29th 2014.

Hopefully GAR B, will be going again soon

KamilaMay 29th 2014.

Went to the free opening night on Saturday a few minor teething problems as expected but overall a good experience. We tried the squid and the whitebait for starters and for main burger and the steak. Starters were very good and the squid was not cold! The burger was ok but did not blow me away. The steak was very pleasant but would have preferred the option of fried rather than grilled. The waitress also didn't ask how I wanted it cooked but it was nontheless medium rare which is what I would have chosen would have chosen. The fries and home made coleslaw were excellent. The service was very friendly and warm. It would be a fun place to go with a group of people. Overall a warm and friendly place with good food and a nice venue to go to escape the Manchester rain.

JennyMay 30th 2014.

In my experience the food was ok not amazing and it took over an hour from the starter arriving to the main arriving, by which time I wasn't very hungry. I will give it another try but it was fairly disappointing.

AnonymousMay 30th 2014.

Smashed it with the links there

AnonymousMay 30th 2014.

Too many liggers and "comped" meals Review from an actual plain punter would be good...

tattygirlMay 30th 2014.

Turtle Bay launch party hangover is in full swing!

Norman EnglishJune 2nd 2014.

I went to the Restaurant last night to Celebrate my 60th and my brother- in law's 68th birthday had a lovely evening, the staff, and food was great one special person i would like to mention that is Hanna who served very nice and happy thank you hun, i'll invite you to my son DJsilva's do when he has a special one, Thanks Turtle Bay we've been waiting for this for a long time...respect

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