Flavors of the Caribbean at Tango Turtle in Aberdeen
My friend just booked the Caribbean vacation of her life this winter for her 30th birthday. My dad was too, as were many of my other friends, so rest assured I saw plenty of photos of what could be one of the most beautiful places on earth.
But when it comes to Caribbean cuisine in Aberdeen, there’s one place most would venture to, and that’s Tango Turtle.
My boyfriend dumped me for the night a few Saturdays ago so I called my sister to see if she would be up for a bite to eat. I couldn’t get Tango Turtle out of my head, so we risked swinging and heading into town.
The restaurant is on Little Belmont Street so she parked at the Bon Accord Center and we walked around. Located on the first floor of the building, we followed the colorful staircase to the entrance to the dining room.
It wasn’t busy, but it was around 5pm, so that wasn’t surprising.
The staircase leading to the entrance of the restaurant. Photo by Kenny Elrick. Our server showed us to our tables and sat us down by the window which overlooks the road – the perfect spot for people watching.
A kaleidoscope of color is served here with Bob Marley murals and paintings galore.
A large table of ladies, which was now complete, were laughing in one corner as they pondered their options of the next bar to frequent.
It was a gorgeous evening and the sun was shining on those we could see enjoying the beer garden at The Old School House. I ordered a can of Ting (grapefruit soda) and Nicole tried a Jamaican ginger beer.
There are no specials here, so you really rely on the menu to get you excited – which it easily can – with dishes like tacos, panko shrimp, jerk chicken, fried plantains and more. dishes offered.
When the staff member returned with our drinks, we finalized our choices and ordered the chicken wings with banana guava glaze and the Bajan flying fish cakes to start.
For main, my sister was tempted by the callaloo with chicken while I couldn’t ignore the ribs and chicken on the grill section.
Over time the place slowly started to fill up, with other sections of the restaurant now opening. I could hear people, but had trouble seeing them because the front of the building was slightly raised.
We waited a bit for our entrees which I didn’t mind as that usually means they are cooked properly and fresh.
Wings (£6.45) were the first to grace the table, quickly followed by fishcakes.
They were grilled and the skin had been lightly charred giving it that classic charcoal barbecue flavor. The chicken was succulent and easily pulled away from the bone.
There were four wings and the banana sauce, which had been drizzled, was very sweet. There was a touch of spicy seasoning, chopped spring onions and a wedge of lemon too. Other sauces included Jerk BBQ and hot habanero guava.
At £5.90 for three fishcakes I found their size to be just right. They were served on red and white checkered parchment paper and they were crispy on the outside and smooth on the inside.
The jerk aioli had a strong taste of garlic and Cajun spices and the cakes themselves weren’t too fishy. There were lots of big chunks of vegetables everywhere.
The service started slowing down around this time and became less attentive.
My sister’s chicken callaloo (£14.95) with rice, peas, plantain and bread hit the mark. It looked really inviting.
She had never eaten a plantain before and described it as “sweet, almost like a banana”. It was fried and soft and she mentioned that the bread reminded her of the taste of a naan bread if crossed with a butter, but sweeter.
The mixture of rice and red beans had a nice spice, but it was the curry, which reminded her of a Thai green curry, that she liked the most. It was a big portion and in the coconut milk based curry was chicken, squash, okra and greens like spinach and green beans.
I had asked for my half and half – ribs and chicken (£15.80) – to be served with dirty chips and coleslaw, but it was just regular fires when it arrived. It was hard to get anyone’s attention, so I kept going.
The half rack of ribs was delicious and the star of the wooden board. The pork slipped off the bone and there was plenty of succulent meat.
The quarter chicken however was another story. While it was cooking it was barely warm. The juicy part started and ended with the skin, which tasted good, and the center of the chicken was very dry and hard to go down. I ended up leaving some because it was hard to eat.
As for the fries, they were nice and crispy – nothing to complain about.
We fancied something sweet to finish and waited over 20 minutes to try and get our hands on a dessert menu. In our saga of trying to get someone’s attention, we instead searched online and viewed the menu that way.
Packets of rum caramel bounty patty (£5.40) caught my eye. When someone finally walked past our table, we asked to place a dessert order. They cleared them of our dirty plates.
The dish was Bounty candy wrapped in filo pastry and fried. Sort of like a fried Mars bar.
My sister’s was really gooey while mine wasn’t so much, and we split the last one. Three pieces would have been hard to eat on their own because it was so sweet, but for me it was the rum caramel sauce that stole the show. It would have been perfect if it was hot.
The light dough was crispy and made a cracking sound when we got in, but we couldn’t help but think it was a little too expensive to be a Bounty wrapped in filo.
Trying to pay was a mission and I eventually made my way to the entrance where I could meet someone to take our payment. No one seemed really in a rush despite customers reaching out for help.
While Tango Turtle is certainly a feast for the eyes, a bit more attention to detail is needed when it comes to service and certain dishes.
I think some items on the menu are excellent value, and some that may need to be revisited or adapted to make them worth the price.
Service was good at first, but was seriously lacking towards the second half of our experience and got worse as the evening progressed. It wasn’t even that busy to warrant the lack of attention given and I know our table wasn’t the only one.
There are some great options on the menu and I encourage you to be adventurous when visiting.
Address: 9a Little Belmont Street, Aberdeen AB10 1JG
P: 01224 561409
Price: £53.10 for two starters, two mains, one dessert and two soft drinks
- Food: 3/5
- Performance: 3/5
- Surroundings: 4/5
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[Caribbean flavours at Aberdeen’s Tango Turtle]