Turtle Bay, 8 Swan Lane, Norwich, NR2 1HZ

Veganuary the Caribbean Way: Turtle Bay Norwich Review

THIS POST FEATURES A GIFTED EXPERIENCE PROVIDED BY TURTLE BAY, NORWICH
As of January 5th 2020, an estimated 350,000 people have signed up to embrace a vegan start to the New Year (and the new decade!). Based on these stats, this year's Veganuary campaign is estimated to save the lives of more than a million animals, also preventing the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide from 450,000 aeroplane flights from being released into the atmosphere. Some pretty amazing numbers!

If you're one of the vegan trailblazers taking on the challenge, I salute you! From my Veganuary experience last year, I know that it can be tough, especially when eating out, but thankfully lots of big restaurants are now also embracing vegan food. One of those eateries is Turtle Bay. I was lucky enough invited along to their Norwich restaurant to sample their Caribbean vibes and soul-food vegan menu. Keep reading to hear about what I thought!

veganuary vegan vegetarian food Turtle Bay Norwich review

Drinks

Turtle Bay has a fantastic reputation for its cocktails and since my sister and I arrived a little early for our vegan extravaganza (yes, we were that excited!), we decided to take a seat at the bar and enjoy a tipple or two. Vegan cocktail lovers certainly will find themselves spoiled for choice with over 30 different options on offer. Turtle Bay also stock a range of homemade soft drinks, mocktails, beers and ciders that are vegan friendly, so nobody is going thirsty!

Vanilla and Passionfruit Mojito (£8.50)

Making the most of Turtle Bay's Happy Hour, we first selected a mojito. Turtle Bay's variation of this popular cocktail is made with Cockspur, a hugely popular rum in the Caribbean, especially on its home island of Barbados. The cocktail was refreshing, very sweet, and drinkable. The dominant taste was the vanilla with the passionfruit not making much of an impact on the palette. 

Turtle Bay review seating area Norwich
Turtle Bay vanilla passionfruit cocktail review

Virgin Raspberry Reggae (£4.50)

After our first boozy cocktail, we switched to mocktails for the rest of the evening. Happily, we certainly didn't feel like we were missing out by dropping the alcohol! This drink provided a berry blast, comprised of raspberry, pomegranate, lime, and lemonade. My sister thought that it tasted just like the raspberry J20 drinks that we loved as kids, so this provided a nice nostalgic touch.

Sky Juice (£4.50)

Who could resist a drink named Sky Juice?! This blend of crushed ice, pomegranate, pineapple, orange and lemon juice looked just like an edible cloud! The citrus elements contrasted with the pineapple flavours beautifully and made this our favourite drink of the night! I was thoroughly impressed by all of Turtle Bay's vegan drinks.

Turtle Bay Norwich bar area cocktails drinks

Food

As well as excellent cocktails, Turtle Bay is an excellent venue for a spice-filled spread. That's because they're all about Caribbean cuisine - think spice rubs, hot sauces, marinades, and fragrant curries. You won't go far without seeing rum, coconut, plantain either! While I sadly can't promise you weather worthy of a Jamaican holiday this January, you can certainly enjoy some sunshine in food form. Here are my vegan picks from the Turtle Bay menu:

Jerk Tofu (£7.50)

If you're heading to a Caribbean restaurant, you simply must try the jerk - it's a staple of Caribbean cooking and something that Turtle Bay do extremely well. Jerk is a traditional way of marinading and grilling meat in a mixture of onion, garlic, five-spice, thyme, nutmeg, and a range of other seasonings. You needn't be carnivorous to enjoy jerk, however, as Turtle Bay offer a dish of organic, crusted creamy tofu, served in jerk gravy. The tofu was light and firm, having thoroughly absorbed the delicious spicy marinade. It gave you just the right amount of heat without being overpowering and the accompanying scallions on top contributed a lovely crunch. The pick-up slaw served alongside packed a punch too, as a few chillis were hidden in the mix! The watermelon also presented on the plate was a lovely way to cool down and cleanse my palette after a spicy dish.

Turtle Bay Norwich restaurant review
Turtle Bay food halloumi vegetarian chips burger

Vegan Motherclucker (£7.50)

While I was tucking in to my Jerk Tofu, my sister selected the Vegan Motherclucker Burger (not a name you want to try saying after too many cocktails...) This arrived in the form of a Jamaican-spiced vegan chicken-style patty in a bun, topped with smashed avocado, wild rocket, pink onions, jerk mayo and BBQ. She was really impressed with the texture of the "chicken" burger and when I tried a bite I found it almost indistinguishable from real meat! The avocado in the burger was also spiced with chilli, giving a pleasant heat to the dish. I wouldn't hesitate to order this myself on my next Turtle Bay visit. 

Side dishes (3 for £8)

Since my tofu dish was served with jerk gravy, I opted for a side dish of Caribbean Dumplings to mop up the sauce. These buttery fritters are typically served with saltfish in Jamaica as part of a weekend breakfast feast. Cooked in the fryer, I was surprised at just how light, fluffy and grease-free these dumplings were. They were a highlight of my meal! Alongside her burger, my sister chose some Spiced Fries - the thin and crispy chips were again really light and perfectly seasoned with Turtle Bay's signature spice mix. To round things off, we couldn't resist some Grilled Halloumi. This was the only non-vegan element to our main course and sadly it was the only one that we were a little disappointed by. The halloumi was a little bland - it didn't have the usual salty, tangy taste that you'd expect. Unfortunately we wouldn't recommend it.

vegan veganuary food turtle bay cocktails jerk tofu

Dessert

3 Puddings for £13.50

Everyone knows that if you can get a deal on desserts, you take it! When I saw that Turtle Bay was offering three puds for £13.50, I just had to order three for us to share! The vegan option that we sampled was the Chilli Chocolate Brownie, served with chocolate vegan ice cream. This was a rich, dark chocolatey experience and the chilli gave it a unique twist. At first you couldn't taste the chilli but after you swallowed, the heat really kicked in at the back of your throat, giving you a warm and satisfying after-burn. The other options that we selected were not vegan but were equally delicious!

We were keen to try the Banana Toffee Cheesecake, which was comprised a toffee curd, banana and rum cheesecake topped with toffee sauce. The cheesecake was really creamy and subtly flavoured with toffee but could have benefited from a firmer base - it was the same texture all the way through which did make it a little tricky to finish.

Finally, our waiter highly recommended the Caribbean Mess and we were so glad that we decided to go for it - it was the best dessert of the night! The Caribbean Mess gave a tropical twist to an English classic by replacing the usual strawberries with mango, pineapple, crushed meringue and passionfruit. The strong flavours and textures worked together perfectly. The yoghurt-like coating on the tropical fruit was delicious with the sweet foam of the meringue. 

Turtle Bay desserts pudding review caribbean mess toffee cheesecake

Five fantastic reasons to visit Turtle Bay this January:

- 28 vegan dishes in Turtle Bay’s plant-based collection (more than anywhere else on the high street)!

- Over 30 vegan cocktails on offer.

- 2'4'1 mocktails daily at Happy Hour, ideal for those taking on Dry January!

- More great value comes in the form of Turtle Bay's £10 lunch deal and set menu, starting at just £12.

- Excellent service. The beach-shack vibes of the decor and reggae beats being played in the restaurant were matched by a Caribbean-style warm welcome. We were so well looked after during our visit and we wouldn't hesitate to return, especially as the Turtle Bay vegan menu is available nationwide!

2 for 1 cocktails happy hour turtle bay norwich

Are you a fan of Caribbean food? Have you visited Turtle Bay before? Let me know in the comments.

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