Unlike my last trip to Huddersfield I had a fairly easy journey from Leeds this time, though I did have to ask a passenger with two seats for one to give way. Turtle Bay is very conveniently situated for Lawrence Batley Theatre so it is an ideal pre-theatre venue.
We are always on a learning curve and I was surprised to find out that the draught beer at Turtle Bay, Red Stripe, has been produced since 1928 and is the Jamaican’s beer of choice. My creative partner, Mel Chantler, had been stuck in traffic on the way here so was relieved to have a Caribbean Craft Lager, a tipple exclusively brewed by the Turtle Bay chain.
Whilst the starters all sound lovely I made an executive decision to have the sharing seafood platter. This consists of curried fish roti flatbread, chilli squid, crispy panko whitebait, sweet corn fritters, mango mole, herb mayo and super green salad. The fish tastes incredibly fresh and the squid and whitebait benefits from a delicious sauce. Not only is the platter beautifully laid out it also has each dish complementing each other.
And while we are on the subject of seafood we should begin to look at Mel’s main. She opts for whole shell-on king prawns, mango, sweet potatoes, tomato, garlic, ginger, Caribbean spices, steamed rice and roti flatbread plus a side of Caribbean slaw. The prawns are a delightful mouthful and the combination of spices is simply incredible.
Meanwhile I really fancy a meat feast so choose the prime cut aged sirloin steak with spicy jerk, coconut callalo and spiced fries. Although a tad too rare for my liking (and yes, I should have known to request well done) the steak and its foodie friends are sumptuous and real quality meat. I have never had callalo before and this really set off the tastes of the steak to a tee.
With so much delightful food to savour time is pressing so the manager Naomi allows us to come back after the Motionhouse dance show at the nearby Lawrence Batley Theatre for pudding and cocktails. Some of you may recall from previous food and drink reviews of mine that I am searching for the ultimate sticky toffee pudding and, indeed, Turtle Bay does exceedingly well in this department.
Then, of course, it would be simply rude to visit Turtle Bay without trying a cocktail. What with Halloween and all that coming up I select the Beachcombers Zombie with Cockspur rum, dark rum & Woods overproof, absinthe, grenadine, lemon & pineapple juice. Luckily it didn’t send me into a trance but it was the ideal end to a wonderful evening. As Mel is driving she chooses the mocktail Reggae Sunsplash, with raspberry, coconut syrup and grapefruit crush – simply lush!
This is a restaurant with a real atmosphere and ambience. The service makes you feel you are visiting an old friend and the layout is ideal for couples or small parties to indulge in a bit of decadence. And a little piece of the Caribbean in Huddersfield (and elsewhere in the chain’s other outlets) can’t be a bad thing. Highly recommended.
Click here to find your nearest Turtle Bay!
Review by Rich Jevons
Photos by Mel Chantler
Much as I love travelling to Huddersfield, at peak time this is a bit of a nightmare as you crushed in like sardines in a packed train without a seat. So I was most relieved to be able to go straight to the quiet haven of Jax Bar & Tapas. And even more relaxed when my waitress Kat suggested a wheat beer, absolute bliss!
The comprehensive menu is divided up into four sections: meat, fish, vegetarian and vegan. So myself and partner for the evening Mel Chantler opt for one tapas from each section.
Particularly nourishing and tasty are the beef & pork meatballs in JAX’s tomato sauce with truffle oil and Parmesan shavings. They have a slightly spicy aftertaste but not too much, just tangy on the tongue.
But my personal favourite has to be the swordfish skewers, marinated in a soy, garlic and sesame dressing with crisped lemon rocket. The freshness of the fish is simply spectacular and it is set off by the tiny tomatoes too.
And one total surprise for me, and a totally new dish that I haven’t come across in years of reviewing, is the whole baked Camembert with garlic and rosemary, served with red onion marmalade and olive bread. The melted cheese is actually quite chewy and has a rich and delightful taste.
While I think Mel’s favourite was the vegan option, sweet potato and butternut squash croquettes with a chilli infused oil. Due to my delicate constitution I had to pass on the chilli but even so they were absolutely luscious and proves without a doubt that vegan dishes are not boring or bland.
And then to finish off this wonderful visit to Jax comes a cocktail that is really the icing on the cake. I choose the vodka-based Jax Pornstar which comes replete with a shot of prosecco to sharpen your palette. While Mel has El Diablo, a real fruity little number, consisting of El Jimador, Reposado, Chambord, Passoa, raspberry syrup and lime topped up with ginger ale.
The decor is also delightful and the service prompt and friendly. Simply a brilliant bar to take in before going to the nearby Lawrence Batley Theatre.
Thanks to: Josh and Janine at Jax.
Review: Rich Jevons
Photos: Me Chantler