Nick Buglione and the “spice girls” check out brunch at Turtle Bay
Call it the lottery of coincidence, call it summer holiday madness or off-piste planning but, as we write, on the eve of this year’s Notting Hill Carnival, it’s all gone a bit Caribbean at Bugle Towers. All of the day and all of the night. Rum Kitchen looked after our night, Turtle Bay is handling the aftermath and launching a bottomless brunch menu. The mid-morning after the night before.
Turtle Bay Brixton, further down Brixton’s main drag, is, for first-timers, an expansive reproduction of Carib shackery. Slowly waking up from morning slumber with a spicy, and optional hair of the dog, twist on middle morning dining. This dog, and fellow poodles, are going alcohol-free but for weekenders, bottomless brunch is an accompanying two hours of bellinis.
We’ve gone midweek mocktail and “homemade softs”. Sky Juice; frozen pomegranate, pineapple, orange and lemon, Virgin Raspberry Reggae; with pomegranate, lime and lemonade and Pink Lemonade with strawberry and watermelon – all in those quirky retro milk bottles.
There is a diffused mini menu for little Turtles (they are good on feeding kids, veggies and vegans BTW) from a jerky brunch line-up fusing Caribbean flavours, and heat, with classic brunch dishes. From the Big Kingston Grill Down to rum infused porridge and curried goat.
The “Grill Down” jerks the bacon, jerks the sausage and spices chick peas alongside roast tomatoes, mushroom, grilled roti and “eggs your way”. It’s the big breakfast. And the spicy infusions work.
Blackwell Breakfast is coconut milk porridge, shaved coconut, pomegranate and muscovado (with a shot of rum for those inclined) and, arguably the start of the show, Curry goat hash. Slow-cooked tender goat, potato, onions and crispy fried eggs, big robust flavour, not shy on heat. I first had goat years ago, at a NYE party we sort of “crashed” where we interlopers were welcomed in and given our “virgin plates” of goat curry. It’s a minor mystery why it is a meat the “British” haven’t really embraced.
We also pick and mix from (our old new friend) avo-smash on grilled roti with chilli flakes, chives, “island” dressing and meaty or veggie toppings and, the closest thing to a bacon or sausage sarnie, grill-blistered roti rolls with cream cheese, chilli relish and your filling of choice. We went jerk bacon.
The only, minor, disappointment was the porridge, which was pretty dense and a little homogenous to get all the way to the finish line.
Bigger, more established high-street diners – your Byrons, Stradas and Jamies’ are in meltdown, smaller, aspirational operations such as this, have put the effort into being pretty good at what they do. By definition, it is reproductive, part-identikit “Marley postered” homage to the “real thing” but the food is good, the service is enthusiastic, and they are not messing around with their rum-infused drink and cocktail menus.
It wasn’t packed at 11 o’ clock on a Monday. A slumbery Brixton may take a while to wake up to a brunch option outside of the “Village” epicentre, that there is dining life beyond Nando’s at this end of town and quite how much spice and heat we want for our brunching, but for a no-nonsense, possibly introductory day trip into Caribbean “fusion” brunch dining (with bellinis on tap) you could be doing a lot worse.
382 Brixton Road, SW9 7AW | 020 7737 2264 | turtlebay.co.uk/restaurants/brixton | @Turtlebayuk