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It's a whole e new experience; Food.

Byline: Andy Hirst

IT has been one of the most anticipated restaurant openings in Huddersfield ... and the reason we knew that was every time we mentioned it on the Examiner website the number of hits shot sky high. But would Turtle Bay live up to the expectation? I made it my mission to find out helped by wife Ruth and friends Richard and Bev.

From the outside the twinkling lights inside make it look enticing and once you walk through the doors you're into another world ... and another atmosphere.

It's the Caribbean and the influence from the sun-blessed isles is everywhere from the reggae music to posters and wallpaper - the genius of Bob Marley quite rightly taking centre stage - to homage to the sound system culture with speak-kers stacked floor to ceiling. There's a real buzz about the place.

We went last Friday and it was busy although not every table was full. That will take some doing as there's around 190 covers served on by a 60-strong team of staff.

This is a major venture and clearly a massive investment and judging by the all-round experience they don't need to sweat it'll pay off. Early signs are it will be a very wise investment.

Yes, clearly food is important in a restaurant but Turtle Bay offers more than this. It's an experience, it's different and it delivers on so many levels.

The staff are young and the majority are students from Huddersfield University across the road. You can tell from the moment you walk through the door that there's a team spirit, a warmth, a sense they really enjoy working here. And they work well, especially for a restaurant that's just opened. They wear a welcoming smile - but that's the Caribbean with you.

We were next to the open plan kitchen ... and the chefs in there sure can stand the heat with one right in front of the flame grill all night. He took it in his stride, never seemed even slightly flustered and hardly appeared to be sweating considering the vast amount of food he and his team were preparing.

But what exactly were they standing in? It can't be! It is, you know. The kitchen is set in a large orange shipping container. One of the best meals I ever had was cooked in the back of a camouflaged container in one of the remotest places on earth - Fitzroy in the Falkland Islands. Covering the Duke of Wellington Regiment's tour of duty there in 1990 we ended up in this bleak spot overlooking the bay eating stew and chips cooked by an army chef on a couple of stoves in the back of a huge metal container. By heck, it tasted good.

And the food coming out of the shipping container at Turtle Bay is outstanding.

If you like your food bland, unadventurous and not spicy then this isn't the place for you.

This is food heaven for flavour lovers. Each table has three bottles of sauce on them - Bajan pepper, jerk barbecue and hot pepper. They were all full which indicated that few needed to spice things up even more.

We thought we'd share a couple of starters - all priced at PS4.95 - so opted for the pepper roti - oven baked spicy roti, potatoes, carrots, peppers, cheese and scotch bonnet. When it came it looked a tad bland. How wrong could you be - it was the misleading dish of the day. One bite, then that quiet moment while the taste buds mull over what's just hit them ... and then the kick. Small in size but big in taste.

The other starter was pulled pork salad - slow roast pulled jerk pork, rocket, fresh butternut squash, mango, orange and coconut shavings. If that isn't a sunburst on a plate I'm not sure what is and the pork was oh-so tender.

The one pots jump off the main menu as must haves. And they are big pots so go there hungry. Our three big pots cost PS9.65 each.

Mine was Caribbean fish curry - snapper fillet, coconut, mango, Caribbean spices, sweet onion chutney, rice 'n' peas and all can be mopped up with a piece of flatbread. The second was curry goat - marinated goat, potatoes and carrots, rice 'n' peas, sweet onion chutney while the third was chickpea and curry squash - chickpeas, butternut squash, spices, sweet onion chutney, rice 'n' peas.

Now your butternut squash and sweet potato can be vastly underrated but not here. They add to the soul of several dishes and spices, lifting them into the realms of the extraordinary. The blend is just so right with these dishes - the fire of the spice softened by the sweetness of the vegetables and rice becomes central to these one pots rather than just something that you pop the main event on top of. The only slight quibble would be the amount of fish in the fish curry.

Steve's Jerk Ribs (PS9.85) were marinated and grilled jerk pork ribs with honey barbecue glaze, sour orange chutney and Caribbean slaw with rice 'n' peas, sweet potato mash or sweet potato fries. It's a dish that's certainly never knowingly undersold and the meat could hardly wait to fall from the bone and the crispiness gave it a flavour to savour.

A couple of sides, each costing PS2.35, were cheesy jerk fries - and even they were spicy and plantain which is not a far cry from fried banana.

Puddings (PS4.85) were shared - a decent-sized slice of banana and toffee cheesecake with rum caramel sauce that's big on the topping - and Caymanas rum cake, warm golden mellow rum cake covered with rum caramel and vanilla ice cream. It gives rum such a good name as the liqueur oozed out.

All in all, a cracking night out.

The fire of the spice softened by the sweetness vegetables and rice becomes central to these one of the pots.

CAPTION(S):

A warm welcome greets diners at Turtle Bay, King Street, Huddersfield 101115BTURTLEBAY_08 A SIMON MORLEY

Caribbean fish curry

Jerk ribs at Turtle Bay

Goat curry at Turtle Bay in Huddersfield

Pulled pork salad at Turtle Bay
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Nov 13, 2015
Words:1026
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