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Review: Goat didn’t float our boat but salmon was jammin at this Preston restaurant

Posted on - 15th October, 2022 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - City Centre, Food & Drink, Opinion, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Restaurants in Preston, What's On in Preston
Turtle Bay Fish Fry and sweet potato fries
Look at that lemon riding the salmon like Tommy Shelby

Up next in Blog Preston’s series on the best and worst reviewed eateries is the popular Caribbean restaurant chain, Turtle Bay.

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Turtle Bay is situated by the Flag Market in our City Centre’s famous eyesore Crystal House. The building was once voted Preston’s Ugliest Building, to which a bored architect replied ‘hold my pint’ before slapping a wonky shoebox onto the Butler Street side of Preston Railway Station. 

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It’s not as in your face awful as Crystal House, but it’s just sloppy enough to give the observer a dull rage headache without knowing why.

So, back to Turtle Bay. I was looking for examples of reviews on TripAdvisor that mentioned some of the dishes, and discovered an interesting phenomenon that showed up in almost all of the 5 star reviews. 

Many customers found their experience so incredible that they created a TripAdvisor account to rave about their server, always by name, and always in similar paragraphs of about four lines. The rest of each review is so generic that the reader wouldn’t know what type of restaurant it is at all other than one in which diners can experience ‘amazing food, amazing cocktails, amazing staff’, and decor that is… well… not unamazing. 

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It’s so frequent that it begins to sound like the reviewers are doing everything they can to avoid talking about the food. Kind of like when someone shows you their newborn baby that resembles a featherless barn owl, and you’re a terrible liar so you panic and just remark on how incredibly wise and aerodynamic it looks.

Read more: Review: The historic Preston City Centre cafe that fails to live up to its potential

I took my 76-year-old mother Yvonne to Turtle Bay with me. The first amazing thing was the weight of the door, which took two of us to open, but once inside we were given a friendly greeting, shown to a table at the back and given a menu each. 

It has a good choice of burgers and curries, as well as options from the Jerk Pit, which is a Jamaican way of flavouring and cooking meat. They don’t hoof a piece of chicken into the front few rows at a Nickelback gig and retrieve it after it’s been gently moshed on.

We shared a portion of Trini Doubles to start; roti topped with curried chickpeas, cucumber chutney, coconut and spicy sauce for £6. The roti were still a little doughy, but the toppings were tasty whilst still being mild enough for those who aren’t keen on hot food. 

Turtle Bay Trini Doubles
We ordered Trini Doubles to have a Trini Womble each

Yvonne ordered the Fish Fry for her main meal. This was salmon coated in spiced batter, coconut fried squid and spiced fries with a mild jerk mayo for £14. 

The coleslaw was chunky and fresh and the spiced fries were piping hot and crunchy, but the best part of the dish was the sturdy fillet of salmon that was coated in seasoned batter and deep fried so that the skin was perfectly crispy. 

The coconut fried squid was a tad disappointing as it was overcooked, rubbery and with little taste of coconut, but a dip in the mango mole livened it up.

Turtle Bay Fish Fry
I once spent the day at a water park in Fuengirola, and the same thing happened to my skin

I ordered a portion of sweet potato fries for £3.60 because they’re consistently excellent at Turtle Bay and a goat curry with coconut rice and peas for £12. It brought a wave of aromatic spices to our table when it arrived, and looked as good as it smelled. 

By this time I was full up so I asked our server if I could get it to take out, and she obliged by bringing me a snazzy cardboard container to put it in. It looked like a little hat box in which one might find a fancy hat for a child, though obviously not one with a massive owl head.

There were only three dessert options apart from ice cream, so we chose a banana and toffee cheesecake to share for £5.

Turtle Bay banana and toffee cheesecake
The banana cheesecake was claggy but tasted good

It tasted very similar to a Latham’s banoffee pie, but the texture was claggy. Although the banana taste came through well, there weren’t any chunks that might have added texture, and the base was also very soft so joined the rest of the Clag Gang. We both agreed that it would have benefitted from a bit of added sharpness like pineapple, but it tasted okay without it. 

I didn’t try the goat curry until later that evening. Despite the excellent flavour and combination of spices in the dish, I couldn’t eat it. The meat was so unpleasantly chewy and gristly that even casting it into the Nickelback Jerk Pit before cooking, to be kicked around a bit and gently moshed on in a Canadian soft rock way, wouldn’t have tenderised it enough. It needed punting into the crowd at an Evil Blizzard gig.

Turtle Bay goat curry
The goat curry would have been lovely without the goat

When we were leaving, our server, Shalaa, asked that we write a review on social media if we had enjoyed her service, and said her name was on the receipt, so that was one mystery solved. I’m guessing that all staff have been instructed to do so by the company, which is canny marketing from Turtle Bay, and shows up in the reviews of every branch.

Shalaa, like most of the other Turtle Bay waiting staff, was bubbly, attentive, and energetic which added enormously to the relaxed yet upbeat vibe of the restaurant. The wait staff are earning most of the positive reviews on social media, and are so personable that of course they deserve recognition for their efforts. 

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If I obliged and wrote a TripAdvisor or Google review whilst still feeling fluffy after saying a cheery goodbye to our waiter, I might also have given a quick five marks out of five, focusing less on the food and more on the service.

Shalaa deserved five stars. However, some of the hit and miss food coming out of the kitchen did not. I believe that Turtle Bay as a company manages to achieve enough five star awards to hang around in TripAdvisor’s higher echelons by exploiting their hard working staff. It’s not cheating, but does give the impression that the quality of its food and drinks is as impressive as that of its service. 


Have you seen a massive headed owl baby knocking about in Preston? Do not approach! Just report it the comments.

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