VEGAN FOOD WITH SOUL: WE SAMPLE TURTLE BAY’S NEW VEGANUARY MENU*

13 January 2020 32 Corporation Rd, Middlesbrough TS1 2RX, UK

With the month of Veganuary in full swing, myself and blogging companion The Northernist were invited to sample the delightful plant based Caribbean flavours offered by Middlesbrough’s, Turtle Bay (#AD*)


VEGAN FOOD WITH SOUL: WE TURTLE BAY’S VEGANUARY MENU*

Much to the annoyance of one particular early morning TV show host, the range of food available to practicing Vegans has never been greater.

If it was thought that last years Vegan Sausage Roll was a gimmick, Greggs firmly told Piers to hold their beer this time round, by launching their Vegan Steak Bake.

And they’re not the only high street eating establishment to join the hyped-up, plant-based, start-of-the-year, marketing-fest that Veganuary has become.

KFC, and Subway are two, to name a few, who have joined the fray this year; offering the ‘Original Recipe Vegan Burger’ and the ‘Meatless Meatball Marinara’ respectively (so meatless, the word meat is used twice!).

Plus all the main supermarkets, and of course discounters Aldi and Lidl, are again championing their widening range of vegan products as well.

We’ve even had the news that prog rock star of yesteryear, Meat Loaf has gone Vegan (albeit he has refused to change his name to Nut Loaf).

So when I bring to you news of a brand new menu featuring a wide range of vegan options especially for Veganuary from everyone’s favourite 2 for 1 Cocktails, Caribbean restaurant, Turtle Bay, I’d accept that if you’re not really into all this ‘no-meat eating business’ you might take a cynical view.

You may well assume that Turtle Bay are doing what everyone else seems to be doing - jumping on the sandal wearing, lettuce munching bandwagon.

But in fairness to Turtle Bay, having a more than expansive Vegan range is not something new to them.

Having eaten their countless times, it’s been noted that they’ve always been able to cater for a range of tastes and budgets and always do so to an excellent standard in the process.

So please, let me tell you about Turtle Bay’s new range, without fear or favour that I’m demanding you turn Vegan for the good of the planet.

For as serious as a concern Climate Change is and the correlation of evidence pointing to our meat rich diet being a contributing factor, I am no Vegan myself, just someone who enjoys having a meal without needing to eat meat every now and then.


An impressive and expansive Vegan Range


Arriving a little before our booked table time of seven with my regular dining partner, The Northernist (and you can read her review of our night, here), this proved to be a good move for we were then able to take advantage of that nights 2 for 1 cocktail offer.

Seated and greeted by Molly, our server for the evening, we promptly ordered a pair of cocktails each, with Olivia going for a Jumbled Julip; boasting a delightful combination of white rum, strawberry, passion fruit and apple juice, topped off with fresh mint, where as I, as the responsible designated driver I am, restricted myself to a very fruity Virgin Raspberry Reggae; a refreshing blend of raspberry, pomegranate and lime juice, mixed with lemonade.

Drinks ordered, it was then time to have a glance down at the menu, trying to ignore all of the delicious meat based offerings, and there was a pleasant surprise for someone who has tried the Veganuary experience in the past.

During this short-lived journalistic experiment, it felt that if there were vegan options on a menu, they appeared to be more of an after-thought and that was barely more than two dishes to choose from, making it difficult to enjoy one of my favourite pastimes of eating out.

But here, across the main menu and lighter bites there are nine different options to choose from, including the Jerk Tofu, which is served with pick-up slaw, scallions and jerk gravy, an always enticing Aubergine Curry and the phenomenal sounding Vital Vegan Sharing Platter.

Ironically, this posed a difficultly of another kind – what to choose!

But for Olivia, this was not so much of a problem as she was already happy to take up the pre-tweeted suggestion from Turtle Bay of trying their provocatively named burger, the Vegan Motherclucker and her customary order of Sweet Potato Fries.

At its heart is a Quorn substitute, chicken style vegan patty; expertly seasoned with Jamaican spices, sitting inside a brioche bun that further encloses smashed avocado, wild rocket, pink onions and a generous serving of jerk mayo and BBQ sauce.

Pressure now on me to make a choice, I turned to ask the assistance of Molly and with her guidance I settled on the ‘Soul Food’ selection of the Coconut Run Down; which was to prove to be a veritable bowl of colour and delight, featuring a mix of crunchy vegetables cooked in a smoked paprika and coconut sauce, coconut rice and peas – plus a side of avocado fries for good measure.

Turtle Bay's Motherclucker burger part of their Vegan range on the current menu

All about that taste!


As enticing as these descriptions and accompanying images will be, the real test in any dining experience is the taste.

And these dishes didn’t disappoint in the slightest.

To quote Olivia’s comments from her blog, she described her Motherclucker as “absolutely phenomenal” and the way it was joyously devoured was evidence to that fact.

Having enjoyed a bite myself, as we exchanged samples, I would agree with her that you wouldn’t have been able to tell this was vegan. It looked like a chicken burger, the consistency was of a chicken burger and it tasted like a chicken burger.

Ultimately, this is as good a chicken burger you will come across in Middlesbrough.

However, I wasn’t jealous of Olivia’s choice at all because I reasoned, if you’re going for a meal with the idea of avoiding meat why would you go for something that aims to replicate just that?

Plus, my bowl was just so beautiful to look at – I actually felt guilty that I’d have to mess up the beautiful presentation in order to eat it.

But once tucked in, I was glad I did and blown away by the array of textures and tastes this wonderfully floral tasting dish had.

At every roll of the tongue a new sensation could be found, each as delightful as each other, followed by the creep of heat from the paprika infused sauce that you would expect from a Caribbean inspired dish.

Here was food full of Jamaican soul, combining fresh natural ingredients and bringing them to their zenith through well thought out combinations, careful preparation and finely balanced spicing.

And here’s the kicker – had this been served with chicken or beef, which conceivably it could have done, it just wouldn’t have tasted the same, because the meat would have dominated and generally deadened the flavour of everything else – this works so well, because it doesn’t have meat!

Turtle Bay's Coconut Run Down part of their vegan range on the current menu

Room for dessert?


After all that you’d be forgiven for thinking we couldn’t possibly have room for dessert – and we almost didn’t.

But our dedication to the cause of this review, and Olivia’s love of all things sweet, swayed us into ordering a Chilli Chocolate Brownie, served with a pot of chocolate ice cream between us.

Now, I instantly know what you’re thinking… “that doesn’t sound very Vegan?”

Yet, this was the remarkable thing about this devilishly moreish dessert, because we were assured it 100% was.

Quite how this is achieved, I no longer recall, for by this time I was too full of wonderful food to really concentrate on what Molly was telling us when we asked, but suffice to say you will find the ‘Vg’ symbol next to this selection on Turtle Bay’s menu.

And taste wise – do I need to say anything – given the image provided will have already painted a vivid “want one” picture for yourself?

But again, this powerfully rich and chocolatey brownie, paired off with an astonishingly velvety chocolate ice cream, just goes to show that culinary skills have got to such a level that you can eat Vegan and eat well.

Going plant based, whether it be for a single meal or for lifetime, should no longer be considered as having to make a sacrifice. Indeed, if you do take a trip to Turtle Bay and try and of these dishes, I’m sure you will consider it as representing a very satisfying investment in yourself.

We dined at the Turtle Bay restaurant in Middlesbrough, but with over 40 establishments across the country you can find the full range of menu’s, venues and the opportunity to book, through their website; www.turtlebay.co.uk


Turtle Bay's Chilli Chocolate Brownie part of their vegan range on the current menu

*Full disclosure: We were presented with the opportunity to try the Vegan range from Turtle Bay’s new menu, up to the value of £50, in return for our reviews.

Our full dining experience consisted of; The Vegan Motherclucker (£7.50), Coconut Run Down (£10.90), sides of Sweet Potato Fries (£3) and Avocado Fries (£4), a Chilli Chocolate Brownie (£5) 2 x Jumbled Julip’s (£8.50) and 2 x Virgin Raspberry Reggae (£4.50) with our bill coming to a total of £43.40.

2 comments

  1. I love Turtle Bay's cocktails, so it is good to know that their vegan range is quite extensive and just as tasty too! I'm not vegan myself, but as a gut health blogger these options are probably more suitable for me and others suffering with gut issues. I'm excited to go for a meal there and try it for myself! Thanks for sharing your experience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Gemma, your kind words are appreciated 😉

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