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“Turtles all the way down”
Review of Turtle Bay

Turtle Bay
Ranked #50 of 400 Restaurants in Chelmsford
Price range: $7 - $20
Restaurant details
Reviewed October 24, 2016

(Sturgill Simpson) - Turtle Bay - Chelmsford

There's a turtle shaped hole in the human psyche, Terry Pratchett tapped into it with his Discworld series of books; the Discworld in question raiding on the back of four elephants, in turn on the back of a giant space turtle. This, in turn was a reference to a famous quote - attributed to a conversation with Bertrand Russell where a heckler described the world as a plate on the back of a turtle and that it is indeed 'turtles all the way down'.

The turtles in today's review are those of the 'Turtle Bay' restaurant in Chelmsford's new 'Exchange Quarter' of the High Chelmer shopping precinct. It's a new restaurant, part of a chain of over thirty around the country promising 'Caribbean Social' cuisine.

I confess, I was planning on lunching at the nearby branch of Byron, but had not considered the implications of half term and after standing outside, unacknowledged, for five minutes in a queue I decided to try elsewhere.

The 'Exchange Quarter' has revitalised - at a cost of around £3 million - a frankly shabby corner of High Chelmer and is now home to Turtle Bay, Carluccios, Cote Brasserie and Bourgee.

Turtle Bay's décor is faux Caribbean shanty, with bright colours, 'reclaimed' container panels, light fittings fashioned from colanders, reclaimed wood and reproduction reggae posters. You get the idea.

One wall is a mass of speaker fronts, but I'm not sure if they're wired up, I think I might have heard them if they were, and I Iive ten miles away.

I arrived and asked for a table for one, and was told by the greeter that there were no tables free in the restaurant area, but I could sit in the bar area.

Okay, but I counted at least eight empty tables, and it was a Monday lunchtime.

A tad disingenuous guys.

So, I took my seat in the bar area and reviewed the menu, as it was lunchtime I skipped the starters, a good selection at £5.10 each. I similarly skipped the comprehensive selection of rums, as I was driving, opting for a pint of draught Red Stripe lager.

For my meal I ordered the 'Curry Goat' - one of the £9.70 'one pot' dishes. It's described as "Marinated goat cooked in curry spices, scotch bonnet, citrus juice & ginger. Served with sweet onion chutney & Caribbean dumplings."

So, the Goat was a little tough, I'm sure that's deliberate, I've recently had tender brisket that literally fell apart, indeed even the BBC website has a recipe for 'pulled goat' so there's no excuse for tough meat. And yes it tasted like mutton, that's not great for someone who confesses to hate lamb, but hey, that's what I ordered.

Having struggled through the meat, the rest of the curry was delicious and well cooked - leaving a pleasant tingle on the lips.

The Caribbean Dumplings were not unpleasant, but nothing to write home about, imagine bready churros and you won’t be far out. Good for mopping up the curry sauce.

Oh.. and the sweet onion chutney was nowhere to be seen, and yes I could have asked for the condiments, but it would appear that they're not distributed to 'bar tables' unless requested.

So overall the food was okay, but the customer experience was lacklustre.

Chelmsford has too many good restaurants fighting for custom.

I might give Turtle Bay another chance, then again, I might not, and that's a risky attitude for any restaurant.

    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
1  Thank BobtheBrit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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312 - 316 of 467 reviews

Reviewed October 24, 2016 via mobile

Not the best food,very bland,waited 15 mins just for drinks,staff like headless chicken,would not go again,would be nice for more flavour

Thank Dionne C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 24, 2016 via mobile

Menu is really good and extensive cocktail list with 2 for 1 thrown in. We were so looking forward to this as it's a restaurant with a completely different vibe!
However the waitress was bordering on surly. Some things were forgotten and it just made our evening a tad less enjoyable. Service, service service please

Thank Howie501
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 23, 2016 via mobile

Decided to give this place a go. 3 adults for evening meal. The place was busy on arrival but managed to get a table no problem. At the start of the evening Tom sorted out out 2 for 1 cocktails with no bother. Ordered 3 courses, starter was fantastic, main meals were lush, desserts were to die for (after we had to ask for dessert spoons - we were given soup spoons), ordered coffee but coffee machine was broke, ordered baileys x 2 (the waitress didn't know if you served baileys), we asked for our bill, waited 15 mins, put our coats on, still waited 10 mins, had to ask for the bill again, then had to walk to the bar, stood another 10 mins and then we had to ask if anyone wanted to take our money. If we weren't honest then we could've had our meal for free. The waiting staff were disorganised apart from Tom, Tom was wonderful.

Thank Weep25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 23, 2016 via mobile

We booked a late table as it was my Partner's Birthday and we were going to to the Theatre for 7.30 pm.
When we arrived at 9.45 I was initially worried we'd made the wrong choice of restaurant, as it was packed and fairly noisy with no sign of anyone to greet us.

However, needn't have worried as once we had grabbed someone's attention we were swiftly seated at a nice table up on a raised area and our lovely server Tyler came to ask if we wanted drinks and show us the menu. This young lady was brilliant throughout, she was really busy but looked after us really well.
We soon settled in and the atmosphere was really nice, Caribbean music and a real buzz in the place. Food was great, I had ribs and jerk lamb which was fantastic. Partner had duck roll and ribs. He really enjoyed his Birthday meal and we sampled a few delish Strawberry Daiquiris as well!
All in all, we really enjoyed Turtle Bay. Tyler was fab. It is quite noisy so don't go if you like a quiet dinner but do go for a fun evening with some lovely spicy food and tasty Cocktails !

Thank Chezlann
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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