The Lifestyle and Culture editors Megan, Will, and Charlie, spend an evening at Turtle Bay…
Every now and then, there comes a time when you have to pause to fully appreciate the perks of being part of The Gryphon. Last week, we were invited to Turtle Bay for an evening packed full of that same soulful, vibrant, delicious food and drink we’ve come to expect from Turtle Bay since it opened last year and because we aren’t yet completely insane, we accepted.
Arriving at dusk in Leeds City Centre, the ambient glow of Turtle Bay drew us in like alcoholic moths to a flaming cocktail. We found the interior evermore appealing, the rustic wooden surfaces glowing under exposed bulbs and candles flickering through stained glass. The cocktail of friendly staff, delicious drinks, and fantastic food obliterated any thoughts of leaving.
But this was far from a regular evening at Turtle Bay. First off, we’re seated behind an intimidating selection of rums. Now, I’m ashamed to say my experiences of rum prior to Turtle Bay extended no further than Sainsbury’s Basics Dark Rum, so anything could happen. Turtle Bay takes rum seriously, with a vast range from dark to white, spicy to sweet, coconutty to straight up 63%. A sample of each blew our minds, who knew there could be so many flavours? Who knew spirits could be so delicious on their own? But this was only the beginning…
A little wobbly on the feet now, we make our way to the bar. We’re about to be shown how to make cocktails, Turtle Bay style. The barman, Adam, is the definition of happy, surrounded by hundreds of bottles, hundreds of potential cocktails.
First up is Charlie, who is shown how to make the signature Reggae Rum Punch – a classicly delicious rum punch cocktail, then Megan steps in to mix the Bahama Mama – you guessed it, a rare banana flavoured cocktail, and finally Will’s up to make a mojito – with a Turtle Bay twist, we used a dark rum to give a richer flavour. Needless to say, we weren’t experts, but we were immensly proud of our alcoholic babies.
After consuming an inordinate amount of rum, we were served vast beach platters of Caribbean food, comprising spicy jerk chicken wings, pepper roti, sweet corn fritters & garlic ‘n’ herb flatbreads. The dream. Exactly as you’d expect, the food was outstanding, with a perfect blend of sweetness, spice, and Carribean jerk and reggae tantalising with every bite. Before we knew it, we’d finished everything on the platter.
Quite simply, Turtle Bay is an escape. It’s an illusory holiday to the Caribbean, strengthened by the authentic blending of traditional food, a carefully created atmosphere, lovely staff, and a vast selection of rum and just when we thought the evening could get no better, we heard the best sentence of our lives, spoken by the bartender, “Let’s drink some more rum, shall we?” Oh yes.
Image: William Hoole