I am forever in awe of people wearing summery items in single digit weather. April continues to be unseasonably cold, which has me wearing three layers whenever I venture out these days, regardless how bright the sun may be burning.


One way to keep warm and toasty, is to well, eat warm, toasty and spicy food. Turtle Bay is a restaurant that I have dined at before, which prides itself on ‘fiery jerk flavours inspired by the Caribbean’.


I love spicy food, so I’m definitely in the right place when I visit Turtle Bay Derby to try out the new menu. Don’t worry if spice is not your thing, there are options for those with a more vanilla palate too.


I have visited a number of Turtle Bay restaurants and the vibe is pretty, filled with fairy lights and the promise of good cocktails. I am totally digging the quirky décor (hello, hanging vinyl records from the ceiling) and rustic vibes (patina tabletops that I immediately want to replicate at home).


Two of the new menu items are Turtle Bay Beach Boards, which are sharing platters like tapas grazing boards. There is a meat and vegetarian option which serves two to four people, so we wind up choosing the mixed (non-veg) option.


This way, I get to taste a swathe of smaller portioned dishes without having to order full size versions, which means I can write about more dishes for the review. I’m a fairly intelligent human, but for some reason, all common sense evaporates when I have to figure out how many tapas dishes to eat.


It’s like watching me trying to figure out a mathematical equation like 394848858598596559 multiplied by 29. It is tough.


It’s a sharer board and there’s two of us, so how many dishes do we actually need? Do we have the sharer board as a starter between two people, then share a main?


Or do we go solo on a main? I know, I know, too many questions for a Sunday afternoon.


Turtle Bay Beach Board Sharing Platter
Turtle Bay Beach Board Sharing Platter


We are told by the helpful Steve that the Beach Board is good for two to four people, so we decide to play it by ear and order additional items according to our satiety levels. The beach board is generously sized, so much, that I think we’ll be full on just that.


Jerk pit wings are flavoursome and juicy. Chilli squid has a crisp, bubbly batter which marries well with the cool mayo drizzle.


There are two pulled chicken doubles, which are soft roti topped with meaty morsels, rum spiked BBQ sauce, creamy avocado and pickled vegetables. This is a personal favourite, as the juices from the chicken render the already pliant roti even softer, so it is like you are eating a gorgeously light, pillowy bread with the added bonus of a flavour explosion consisting of spicy chicken shreds.


Tobago Tea cocktails at Turtle Bay Derby
Tobago Tea cocktails at Turtle Bay Derby


We also order a few drinks that pair well with the chilli and jerk flavourings from the sharing platter. It’s two-for-one, which is also good value for money, if you’re in the mood for kicking back and enjoying a few cocktails.


Tobago Tea cocktail is a delightful mix of Duppy White rum, vodka, tequila, gin, grapefruit, mango and fresh lime. Duppy White, with tropical fruit accents of ripe mango (I also get a hint of fragrant thyme somewhere in the background) is the main base for this cocktail.


The rum complements the citrus theme of this refreshing drink to make Tobago Tea cocktail one of my go-to cocktails at Turtle Bay going forward. I love rum, so I choose a nice sipping rum in the form of Las Olas.


The rum is served with a choice of mixer, so I order a Diet Coke on the side and sip the rum separately, to appreciate the true flavour profile. Las Olas is a spiced rum with predominantly baked biscuit, soft vanilla and coffee notes.


It is beautiful and a very smooth sipping rum that I prefer without the Diet Coke, although mixing it up with a soft drink or tonic is a personal preference. Another sipping rum that I try is Cut To The Smoke.


This rum’s eponymously smoky notes, predominantly of tobacco and oak are a joyful precursor of the smoke-fest that lies in store. This is one of the more complex rums, because after a few minutes, I can taste liquorice notes which become more noticeable until I finish the rum.


Turtle Bay Jerk Pit Prawns
Turtle Bay Jerk Pit Prawns


The mixed sharer beach board is so generously portioned, we only order an additional starter of jerk pit prawns, one of our all-time favourite dishes that delivers a punchy chilli and garlic hit. It is served on grilled roti, which again is the perfect spongey base for the succulent prawn juices and warm garlic butter.


It’s a strong and versatile new menu at Turtle Bay. I love spice, so this is definitely one for me and fellow appreciators of good food.


Steve and Sydney at the Derby branch are friendly and smiley souls, so if they are there when you visit, you’re in for a warm welcome. Turtle Bay is more than just a restaurant bar.


Chefs’ understanding of spices creates dishes that transport diners to warmer climes with each bite, whilst the eatery’s careful compilation of rums easily makes this a destination rum bar in Derby and beyond.




Food: 9/ 10

Value for money: 10 / 10

Ambience: 10 / 10

Service: 10 / 10

Restaurant name: Turtle Bay Derby

Address: 1-5 Wardwick, Derby DE1 1HA

Tel: 01332 344100

Website + social: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn | YouTube


Reserve: Online

Caters for allergies: Yes

Wheelchair friendly: Yes

Quieter table: One Love

How to get there: You can’t get more central than Sadler Gate which is at the other end of Derbion

Covers: circa 100

Front of House: Steve (Deputy) and Sydney

Whilst in the area: Canopy is one of the lovely small businesses on nearby Sadler Gate. I have my eye on the Kinto cup and saucer which would look great on my drinks cabinet which I am in the middle of curating. Canopy also stock contemporary fashion garments from big brands such as Mulberry, Norse Projects and Filson, names which you wouldn’t normally see elsewhere on a regular high street.

*PR invite | image of Beach Board courtesy of Turtle Bay