Turtle Bay Newcastle - Menu Review

My mum babysits for us once a month and we usually really struggle with where to visit for food - there is sooooo much choice in Newcastle these days! This month however there was only one place I wanted to take Steve and that was Turtle Bay. After an impressive launch night, I knew he would love it so I promptly booked us a table online.

We started our evening at Motel One where we were spending the night. I would recommend popping into their gorgeous lobby bar for a few cocktails if you get the chance - some of the friendliest staff I have encountered in a while. Motel One is located on High Bridge Street so just a few minutes walk away from the Gate and Turtle Bay. 

Motel One Newcastle lobby bar

Turtle Bay Cocktails

Our reservation was for 6pm on a Thursday night and the place already had a queue out of the door - always a good sign! The bar area was busy too with plenty of people making the most of the buy one get one free cocktails that are available from 11:30am - 7pm daily and then again after 10pm. 

A look inside Turtle Bay Newcastle interior

Expect a mix of reggae music from Bob Marley to Shaggy which all adds to the relaxed vibe of Turtle Bay. We were sitting right next to the open grill where the chefs were flaming some chicken and if I slightly closed my eyes I could almost imagine I was sitting in Oistins Fish Fry in Barbados. We made the most of the buy one get one free cocktails and sampled a few from the menu - if it is your first time visiting I recommend the Reggae Rum Punch to begin with. I liked that the dining area had their own bar so although the main bar was busy, we never had to wait long for our drinks.

Buy one get one free cocktails during happy hour at Turtle Bay Newcastle

Reggae Rum Punch at Turtle Bay Newcastle

Reggae Rum Punch at Turtle Bay Newcastle

Turtle Bay Restaurant

I set the ground rules with Steve early in the evening - we were going to share everything! We decided on Jerk Chicken Wings and Spicy Squid to start.

Menu at Turtle Bay Newcastle

Squid starter at Turtle Bay Newcastle

The Jerk Chicken Wings were AMAZING - pretty much the best we've ever tried. Just the right amount of sauce, super crispy skin and sweet, succulent meat that fell from the bone. I am craving them again as I type this and they will definitely be our go-to starter from now on. The squid was good with a nice amount of spice but the chicken wings were out of this world. I know, I know, there is more to Caribbean Cuisine than Jerk Chicken but you really must try these wings!

Jerk Chicken wings starter at Turtle Bay Newcastle

I had tried the One Pot Goat Curry on launch night and loved it so was keen to try this again. Steve decided to go for the Jerk Belly Pork.

Goat 'one pot' curry from Turtle Bay Newcastle

Goat 'one pot' curry from Turtle Bay Newcastle

The goat curry definitely had a lot less spice than last time and was less saucy however they goat was just as beautifully cooked. The portion was HUGE though and we couldn't finish it between us.

The Belly Pork was the winning main, I don't have a pic as it was covered in sauce and just not very photogenic - sometimes the best meals aren't though. The pork had been marinated with a spicy rub and was absolutely delicious. Along with a side of sweet potato fries and homemade coleslaw the dish was again a huge portion.

Spicy hot pepper table sauce at Turtle Bay Newcastle

You can add some extra spice to your dish should you need it with a selection of table sauces and I would take your server up on their offer of bringing you a jug of water for your table in case things do get a little too spicy (yes I was a little bit too liberal with the Hot Pepper Sauce).

Onto dessert, grilled pineapple is Steve's favourite so he was always going to order that and I decided to indulge in a spiced chocolate pot with coconut ice cream. 

Grilled Pineapple dessert from Turtle Bay Newcastle

Spiced chocolate one pot dessert and coconut ice cream from Turtle Bay Newcastle

The desserts were brilliant and I would recommend trying to leave some space if you can. My chocolate pot had a lovely warming spice running through it which was perfect with the coconut ice cream that actually tasted of real coconut. It was very rich though and I think that perhaps this may be a good option to share.

I need to give a special shout out to the staff who are wonderful. They are all bursting with energy, life and you might even catch them breaking into song or dance when their favourite tune comes on. They are just so happy and it shows. Our server was attentive, friendly, full of personality and happy to chat and recommend dishes which I always like.

Our final bill was £68 in total. This covered a 3 course meal for two people and 8 cocktails between us so was a very good deal.

Turtle Bay Newcastle - a Caribbean restaurant review near the Gate


Recommended places for the best Fish and Chips in the North East

Who doesn't love Fish n Chips? I'm fussy about where I get them from though and there's nothing worse than a disappointing fish supper! We are spoilt for choice when it comes to Fish and Chips in the North East though so I've asked for recommendations over on North East Family Fun's Facebook page.....

Recommended places for the best Fish and Chips in the North East

Moorhouse Farm Shop, near Stannington

I made the mistake a few weekends ago of trying to pop to our local shopping centre on Saturday lunch time to buy a few bits and bobs from M&S Food hall. OMG it was chaos! We spent 30 minutes trying to find a parking space before abandoning all hope and returning home empty handed. How annoying. We try to do most of our shopping at the Grainger Market and top up with Aldi/M&S/Waitrose however there are times when we can't get into town as often as we would like and sometimes I do have to pick up some groceries over the weekend and begrudgingly take the kids along.

I vowed not to brave my local shopping centre again last weekend and wracked my brains to find a solution. It was then I remembered Moorhouse Farm Shop. We used to be very regular customers however recently seemed to have forgotten about this gem so on Saturday afternoon we all piled in the car and headed a few miles down the A1. You will find Moorhouse Farm Shop just off the A1 near Stannington, Morpeth. Follow the signs for Stannington services and you will see brown signposts for the farm shop.

Moorhouse Farm for kids

We arrived at around 12:30pm and managed to park without any difficulty. Winning!! We decided to let the kids explore a little before heading inside to do our shopping. Moorhouse Farm is very child-friendly - there is a free outdoor play area, toy tractors to ride on, an outdoor sandpit and an indoor play barn.

Kids outdoor tractors and sandpit plus indoor play barn at Moorhouse Farm Shop Stannington, near Morpeth, Northumberland

Kids play park at Moorhouse Farm Shop Stannington, near Morpeth, Northumberland

You can also take a stroll around the animals and say hello. On one of our previous visits the friendly farmer has even invited the kids into the chicken coop to help him hunt for eggs. 

Chickens on the farm at Moorhouse Farm Shop Stannington, near Morpeth, Northumberland
Kids visit the goats on the farm at Moorhouse Farm Shop Stannington, near Morpeth, Northumberland

All of the above is completely FREE and beats walking around a supermarket with 3 kids in tow any day of the week!

Moorhouse Farm Shop

The farm shop was fairly busy so I didn't take many photos but there is so much local produce for sale from veg grown in Northumberland to home baked farmhouse cakes, fresh bread, a butchers counter, preserves, local and speciality drinks, fruit, chocolates, proper gravy.....the list is endless. I defy anyone to leave the shop empty handed. 

Tomatoes for sale from Moorhouse Farm Shop Stannington, near Morpeth, Northumberland

New season rhubarb for sale from Moorhouse Farm Shop Stannington, near Morpeth, Northumberland

Northumberland carrots for sale from Moorhouse Farm Shop Stannington, near Morpeth, Northumberland

Apples for sale from Moorhouse Farm Shop Stannington, near Morpeth, Northumberland

Jack choosing broccoli at Moorhouse Farm Shop near Stannington, Morpeth, Northumberland

The kids loved picking out their own veg for our Sunday lunch. For the 5 of us we bought:-

*1kg Shoulder of Pork from the butcher's counter
*Green beans
*Homemade farmhouse Yorkshire puddings
*Homemade Pork Gravy
*Local apple sauce
*Home baked Lemon drizzle cake

All for £26 which I think is a fantastic deal for a 2 course Sunday lunch for 5 using local ingredients. 

The Moorhouse Farm Coffee Shop

It wasn't long before the kids were moaning they were hungry which I swear is their favourite thing to do so we scouted out the farm's coffee shop to see if there were any free tables. We were in luck and grabbed a spot. I was super impressed with the prices - kids lunch boxes were £3.10 which included a sandwich (cheese, 'proper' ham or jam), a piece of fruit, a homemade biscuit and a carton of juice. 

Jack's face when his lunch arrived! 

Jack decided he would like fish fingers and chips for the bargain price of £2.50. The chips were homemade and I am gutted Jack wouldn't share! Children's meals are for children aged up to 12 however I do feel the portions would be on the small side for kids with a large appetite. For that price though you could order 2 if your kids were extra hungry. The portion was perfect for Jack's lunch. 

Kids fish fingers and chips from the children's menu in the Moorhouse Farm Coffee Shop

I can never pop into the coffee shop without admiring the cake counter and choosing a slice to share with Steve - they are huge and always light and fluffy. Todays choice was a Battenberg (£2.95) which was washed down with a Pumphreys coffee and pot of Rington's tea. 

Homemade Battenberg cake at Moorhouse Farm Shop near Stannington, Morpeth, Northumberland

In the summer you can sit on the terrace and there's a little play house for the kids too. Perfect.

Outdoor terrace at  Moorhouse Farm Shop near Stannington, Morpeth, Northumberland

We left thinking why oh why had we forgotten about this place? Shopping here for the weekend was sooooo much less stressful than trying to walk around a busy supermarket. We vowed to not leave it as long before we visit again. The shop is open 7 days a week too. 

Shopping with kids at Moorhouse Farm Shop near Stannington, Morpeth


9 things you should know about Hinnies - a friendly neighbourhood restaurant in Whitley Bay

After reading this fabulous review of Hinnies from Feeding boys I just knew it would be my sort of place and couldn't wait to visit. Luckily for me, Chloe from New Girl in Toon was invited along and kindly asked me to be her plus one. Yeah! I have the best friends! We parked in a nearby street on a blustery Wednesday evening and were impressed at how busy, warm and welcoming Hinnies was. We spent a good few hours catching up over very good food and I cannot give Hinnies any higher praise. In fact, I tried to book a table this weekend with Steve and the kids only to find they were fully booked - a testament to how popular the place is.

Hinnies Restaurant, Whitley Bay - sea front exterior

9 things you should know about Hinnies 

1 - Andy Hook (the man behind the multi-award winning Blackfriars Restaurant in Newcastle) is the driving force behind Hinnies. This year marks a decade since Andy sold his first restaurant, Sidney’s on Front Street in Tynemouth and is a welcome return to the coast for him with his business partner David Townsley.

2 - Head chef Jonny Wardale has previously worked for Fresh Element (the people behind SIX at Baltic). His brother Chris Wardale is the head chef at Blackfriars and along with several members of the Blackfriars team will be lending his support to Jonny.

3 -Hinnies’ menu features a range of locally inspired dishes such as a modern take on the famous Saveloy Dip: smoked sausage, mustard, gravy-dipped bap, peas pudding. Steve cannot wait to try this! I sampled the Newcastle Brown Ale slow cooked beef & horseradish dumplings and have to say this dish was superb and highly recommended. The beef was so tender and rich and the whole dish just made me smile. There are lots of other local comforts on the menu including North East coast creamy crab soup, Pan Haggerty and of course, Singin' Hinnies which I am definitely going to try next time. 

Newcastle Borwn Ale slow cooked beef from Hinnies Restaurant, Whitley Bay
Newcastle Brown Ale slow cooked beef & horseradish dumpling

Singing Hinnies from Hinnies Restaurant, Whitley Bay
Singin' Hinnies

4 - A range of menus are available including a main menu, an early evening and lunch menu (2 courses £12) and a specials board. It annoys me when restaurants don't have a specials board as I often like to try something different so Hinnies has a huge thumbs up from me for this. I tried the cauliflower soup from the specials board and it was creamy, warming & comforting. 

Cauliflower soup starter from Hinnies Restaurant, Whitley Bay
Cauliflower Soup

5 -The interior of Hinnies was designed by Newcastle-based designer Neil Wilson and much of what you see inside the restaurant is recycled, including the chairs, tables, bric-a-brac, booths, front bar, back bar, floor, light fittings, cutlery, kitchen and kitchen equipment. This creates a rustic home-from-home feel that works well. I couldn't believe we were sitting in what once was How do you do - it is a complete transformation. 

The recycled interior of Hinnies Restaurant in Whitley Bay

6 - Children are extremely well catered for. There are lots of highchairs readily available and a children's menu has been especially created by the team to ensure little ones don't miss out. Expect warming hot chocolates, North sea fish goujons & chips and the chance to make your own pizzas or desserts. Prices are very reasonable too with most children's meals being charged at £3/£4.

Children's menu and create your own pizza's at Hinnies restaurant, Whitley Bay

Children's bucket and spade ice cream dessert from Hinnies restaurant, Whitley Bay

7- Hinnies has to be THE place to visit for weekend brunch. Who doesn't dream of long leisurely brunches? Well now you can indulge at Hinnies before/after a bracing coastal walk with their special weekend brunch menu available on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am.  Foraged mushrooms on toast, poached hen's egg and crispy bacon or corned beef hash sound like the perfect Saturday morning treat to me and the children aren't excluded with home-cooked options such as scrambled eggs on toast available too. 

Family Weekend brunch menu at Hinnies Restaurant, Whitley Bay

8 - I always like the option to book online and I'm pleased that you can do this at Hinnies via their website. They seem very popular so I would highly recommend booking a table with as much notice as possible.

9 - Hinnies serve a bargain Sunday lunch.  Options include locally sourced lamb or beef with yorkies, roasties, seasonal veg and gravy. Sunday lunch is available for the bargain price of £12 for 2 courses. I recommend the apple crumble and custard for dessert - probably one of the best I've ever tried!

Homemade Apple Crumble and Custard from Hinnies Restaurant, Whitley Bay

What can I say, Hinnies is a true gem and is definitely going to be a favourite lunch spot of ours. I am soooo pleased it is practically on my doorstep. It feels so good to finally have a local neighbourhood restaurant with delicious food at decent prices with friendly & welcoming service. 

9 things you should know about Hinnies restaurant in Whitley Bay - a review

Thank you to Unique Thinking for providing most of the images used in this post.


The new mum's survival guide to your first holiday abroad

When you first become a mum, leaving the house can seem daunting, let alone visiting a different country with your little one in tow. There’s so much to think about before you even step foot out of the front door, but with luxury family holidays now available at a great price, travelling with children is not only more affordable than ever, but easier too. Babies are usually FREE or have a very small charge when travelling and there is no better time to travel in my opinion. I have very happy memories of travelling to Turkey in a 5* resort when Heidi was a baby and Harry was aged free. We bagged a free child place for Harry and Heidi was free so it was very affordable and something that's probably out of our budget now our children are in full time school. 

So, if you fancy staring parenthood straight in the face and taking on all the challenges that come with having an infant, why not treat yourself to a much-needed getaway? Tempted?  I've put together a survival guide to help you get from A to B (and back again) in one piece:-

1 - Think carefully about your destination

Thanks to improved transport routes and impeccable accommodation across the globe, holidaying within Europe or venturing to a more distant continent is relatively straightforward. That said, it’s crucial to think carefully about where you want to visit to ensure the climate is suitable for you and your youngsters. 

If you want to visit Cyprus, for instance, it’s worth bearing in mind that temperatures can exceed 40 degrees in July and August and so you may prefer to visit at a different time of the year – when you can push a buggy around, without your face melting. 

Similarly, if you fancy being adventurous and heading to somewhere like Thailand, be sure to check the weather conditions, as Monsoon season tends to run from July to October and could leave you a little wet and soggy.

2 - Opt for family-friendly hotels and resorts

When it comes to booking your holiday accommodation, always opt for somewhere that welcomes families with open arms. Not only will child-friendly hotels and resorts have all (or most) of the equipment needed to make your trip a success, but you’ll be able to relax and unwind without worrying that your baby will disrupt staff or guests – after all, the majority of people staying will be parents themselves. 

What’s more, before you travel, find out if your hotel of choice supplies things like baby monitors, travel cots, covers, thermometers, bottle warming equipment and other such facilities that’ll make your stay pleasurable and reduce the amount of things you’ll have to pack.

Furthermore, while full or half-board packages can be appealing, as you won’t have to worry about shopping or cooking, you might prefer to opt for a self-catered apartment instead. This is because young children tend to have a timetable all of their own and you perhaps would prefer the freedom to prepare and arrange meals as you wish. You might also like the idea of having a hob to warm milk and prepare baby food, so think carefully about these options before booking.

3 - Find out if you need vaccinations

While there are many parts of the world you can visit without being vaccinated in advance, other countries will require you to get the relevant injections or take suitable pills. Of course, some types of medication such as malaria pills are not always appropriate for very little ones to take, so you might want to avoid going to malaria-risk areas altogether – or at least until your child is older. You can find out which vaccinations are necessary or recommended for the places you’ll be visiting online, so protect yourself against common diseases and don’t put any family members at risk.

4 - Prepare for the journey carefully

As a new mum you’ll know that children come with a lot of baggage, so you’ll need to prepare for the journey carefully. While spare clothes are a must, you should also pop nappies, wipes, aeroplane friendly toys (or ones that don’t make too much noise), plenty of snacks and blankets (in case the air conditioning is cold on the plane) into your travel bag. 

Be aware that airlines do have strict hand luggage rules, however, so find out how much you’re allowed to take on board and remember, while baby food is usually permitted through security, you’ll have to buy most liquids once you’re through to departures.

Travelling with a baby/small person, might seem daunting but it’s more than doable, so go ahead and enjoy a wonderful family trip away.

The new mum's survival guide to your first holiday abroad


Can you take kids to a fancy Thai restaurant on Newcastle Quayside? We review Mantra Thai

I want my children to experience everything about life I really do. We take them to all sorts of restaurants and a lot of the time these won't be ones that are necessarily deemed to be 'child friendly'. I really think children should try lots of different cuisines and not just Frankie and Benny's and the likes (although if they had their way we would dine at F&B's every night). We have tried all sorts from Japanese and Spanish to Mexican and Fine Dining however I have never taken them to a Thai restaurant. I think I was worried the food may be too spicy or there wouldn't be anything on the menu that would suit their tastes (yes I know I sound like I'm contradicting myself here) so when we were invited along to Mantra Thai on Newcastle's Quayside in The Stephenson Quarter I agreed but really didn't know what to expect.

Children's menu and family dining at Mantra Thai restaurant on Newcaslte Quayside - a review

We arrived just in time for our 5pm reservation thanks to rush hour traffic and were very relieved to find that free customer parking was available on site. This is very important to me when taking the kids out at night, I didn't want to be walking along busy streets in the dark so already things had started well.

First impressions were fantastic - the staff were welcoming and led us to a table upstairs overlooking the river Tyne. The atmosphere had an upmarket feel but definitely not in an off putting way and families certainly didn't feel out of place - in fact there were a few other tables with children seated too.  We ordered a few drinks.....

Thai Tham cocktail from Mantra Thai, Newcastle Quayside
Thai Tham - A traditional Thai Cocktail with lemon vodka, malibu, pineapple, lime, lemongrass and coriander

Mocktail from Mantra Thai, Newcastle Quayside
Seam Raow Mocktail - Mango juice, Lychee Juice, Orange Juice

The drinks selection was extensive with a few mocktails, a selection of cocktails, lots of soft drinks options, beers, wines and spirits. I opted for a traditional Thai cocktail and wasn't disappointed at all. It was just what I needed to compliment my spicy main course. The mocktails were fab too and the kids thought it was fantastic when we let them have a try, they commented that they felt like they were on holiday!

We were brought out some Thai crackers to nibble and again, the kids loved them. It was at this point we had a look on Google Earth to show the kids where Thailand was in the world and based on their experience so far they started planning our next holiday there.......

Early Dining Menu at Mantra Thai

We opted to dine from the Early Dining Menu which is served 5-7pm and includes two courses for £15.95 per person. We ordered a couple of starters from this menu to share between the 5 of us and I was amazed when the kids tucked into the prawn toast and claimed it was their favourite toast ever!

Starter option - prawn toast from Mantra Thai, Newcastle Quayside

Starter option - prawn toast from Mantra Thai, Newcastle Quayside
Prawn & Chicken Toast

Take a peek at our video clip, they really loved it......

Starter option - grilled pork skewers from Mantra Thai, Newcastle Quayside

Starter option - grilled pork skewers from Mantra Thai, Newcastle Quayside
Grilled Pork Skewers

I was very tempted to order a Thai Green curry for my main course however we cook this a lot at home already and I was feeling adventurous. I went for the Stir Fried Crispy Pork with Chilli and Basil. Oh my word it was superb! The belly pork was super crispy yet succulent at the same time and I have to say, this is now my favourite Thai dish! I would highly recommend. It was fairly spicy so make sure you have a cooling cocktail on hand. 

Stir Fried Crispy Pork with Chilli and Basil at Mantra Thai, Newcastle Quayside
Stir Fried Crispy Pork with Chilli and Basil

Steve decided to go with the Spicy Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Beef. I had a sneaky taste and was very impressed (although I think for once I actually preferred my own dish - when does that ever happen??)

Spicy Stir Fried Noodles with Beef at Mantra Thai, Newcastle Quayside
Spicy Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Beef

The Children's Menu at Mantra Thai

The children's menu is available every day between 12-6pm. I had already prepared my children and told them that chips wouldn't be on the menu so I was fairly surprised when they were. Jack was delighted and much to my annoyance asked for them. I let him order them as to be honest, we were half way through half term and I know when to pick my battles! Children's options were all priced at £4.95 which was a bargain considering the portion sizes. The choices included:-

Crispy Fried Chicken Breast with Sweet Chilli Sauce (served on the side), Stir Fried Pork Noodles, Thai Style King Prawn Fried Rice, Thai Style Sweet and Sour Chicken.

With a choice of side from:-

Potato Chips, Steamed Jasmine Rice, Egg Fried Rice, Green Salad.

Children's crispy chicken with steamed jasmine rice and sweet chilli sauce from Mantra Thai, Newcastle Quayside
Children's crispy chicken with steamed jasmine rice and sweet chilli sauce

Children's crispy chicken and chips from Mantra Thai, Newcastle Quayside

Harry, Heidi and Jack all thoroughly enjoyed their dinner and we had clear plates all round. I was a little disappointed they didn't order anything exotic but at the same time pleased that they ate their meal with no fuss.

Dessert at Mantra Thai

As the children had been so well behaved and finished all of their meal, we promised we could order dessert. We were pretty full by this point though so decided to split two desserts between the five of 
us. This mostly ended up with the kids eating the raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake and Steve and I sharing the Tropical Panna Cotta.

Dessert options from Mantra Thai, Newcastle Quayside

Raspberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake dessert from Mantra Thai, Newcastle Quayside

Panna Cotta with Tropical Fruit dessert  from Mantra Thai, Newcastle Quayside

Our desserts were the perfect end to our meal. The Tropical Panna Cotta in particular was spot on. 

Our overall verdict was OMG When can we come back! We all had such a lovely time. The children were well behaved and although there weren't any colouring sheets or activity books like you might get in some chain restaurants, it really didn't matter - this gave us the time to actually have conversations we wouldn't usually have such as where in the world is Thailand and how many languages can we say 'Hello' in. All good stuff :-)

The staff were lovely and very attentive - they made a fuss of the kids and ensured they were included without being over-bearing. An example is when they asked the kids directly if they enjoyed their meal rather than just asking myself or Steve. A nice touch I thought!

If you are looking to take the kids somewhere a little bit different for lunch or dinner, I would recommend giving Mantra Thai a try. 

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