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The first London branch of a Caribbean chain, serving very good food in buzzy surroundings.
There might be a chill in the air, but the Caribbean sun has just risen on Ealing’s High Street. Turtle Bay is a cocktail bar and buzzy restaurant with beach shack chic, calypso beats and kick-ass comfort food. We dropped in for Friday lunch soon after it opened, and it was rammed.
The room is dominated by a large central bar dispensing potent rum cocktails. With its brightly painted corrugated metal and distressed wood it looks a bit like Nando’s.
The menu is heavily seasoned with dishes using Jamaican jerk marinade: dark, glistening chicken wings impressed us with their sizzling scotch bonnet chillies, which were underpinned by a blend of ground allspice, cracked black pepper and warming cinnamon.
There’s a sizeable selection of stews – curried goat with carrots and potatoes, or a vegetarian warmer of sweet potatoes, mixed beans and greens enriched with coconut milk and dumplings. We loved the Trinidadian fish curry with its ginger-chilli-onion broth, studded with tender squid and prawns. The only blip was a lacklustre shrimp and mango wrap, which faded to insignificance in the face of other, boldly spiced choices.
Desserts embrace tropical fruit, molasses, spice, chocolate and rum. Barbecued pineapple rings, dunked in rum-caramel sauce, gave this simple sweet a grown-up spin.
This branch is the latest addition to a ten-strong chain, but is the first to open in London. There are big bucks riding on its success. Even if we can’t make it to the Caribbean for a sun-kissed break, at least we can find tropical warmth and spice in autumnal Ealing.
16 High Street
|Transport:||Tube/rail: Ealing Broadway|
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