Turtle Bay, Hope Street, Glasgow 

I’ve come over to apologise for the mix-up, says the manageress, prompting two blank faces and the sudden appearance over our heads of a giant speech bubble containing the word: “Uh?”

“Mix-up?” I ask, forkful of goat curry in hand, a whispered “we did order this didn’t we?” to Joe sitting across from me. The manageress is clearly as surprised that we are surprised as we are at her sudden appearance and what follows is a minute or two of cross-babbling that just makes things even more confusing.

In the end it transpires that our jerk lamb has gone to that table over there. Behind the rum shack, under the neon lights, beside the windows. Honestly? We hadn’t even noticed. Hardly surprising nowadays when chefs send out food whenever they feel like it thanks to the curse of the small-plate revolution.

That issue aside I drain my glass of ice with some (shockingly little actually) post-mix Diet Coke (can’t wait to see how much that costs) and we turn back to our actual on-the-table small plates.

Crispy chilli squid (£7.30) then: ribbons really, not much chilli, the flavour so forgettable I’m having to check my notes to confirm I actually ate it. Oh: “Chewy and almost cold,” I have also written. Salt Fish Fritters (£6.30): these are much better, maybe a bit of a strange damp texture in parts, but ball-shaped fritters, with a hint of fish and a splash of a fiery Scotch bonnet sauce, are hard to get wrong.

The Herald: Turtle BayTurtle Bay (Image: free)

It’s Trini doubles now. This is actually good: two puffy mini-roti with a chickpea curry and a cucumber texture. Just cooked, pillowy fresh, decent chickpeas and a touch of a tang. And there’s another mini (and they really are that small) roti portion - this time with chicken chunks, mayo, some rum-based sauce and a few woody chunks of pineapple.

I’m less swayed by this effort frankly, less certainly than Boasty, featuring the actual vocals of Idris Elba, which is pumping through the sound system at such a volume it’s impossible to stop the feet jigging and the knees dancing. Which would be entirely appropriate (no not for me), say around midnight, on a busy night, with the rum shack thing going full swing, and the er, vibrant, party popper colours of this place blending into the background.

But tonight, mid-December, when this vast barn is almost empty, staff milling around, open kitchen looking like it’s staffed by one single person, row after row of empty tables … Well, it’s like Blackpool out of season, or Jamaica the morning after. Flat. Which is a shame.

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I’m guessing the logic of Turtle Bay (yes, yet another breathless chain loosely based on a good idea) is that patrons devote much time to the cocktails (there’s a huge array), get sucked in by the bangin’ music and spend, spend, spend.

Sigh. Ah. The jerk lamb has arrived. It’s £17.30 incidentally. Have I gone mad? Well, “marinated for 24 hours in our aromatic spice rub, fire grilled and basted”, promises the menu. In here, I think? Looking towards that cold-looking kitchen and wondering if dishes are prepared down south and just assembled here.

Impossible to tell, but the spice rub surrounding the lamb is actually flavoursome, pleasant. Unfortunately the cut of lamb is the most sinewy, chewy and at times damn impossible to eat piece of meat I’ve had for a very long time. Awful.

There’s some variable-temperature sweet potato mash (otherwise fine) and some fried greens. Talking about food temperature? The goat curry is fine. It’s the kind of food that can be prepared well in advance and reheated with no ill effects. It kind of looks like that too, however, it too is not uniformly hot. Is food lying in that kitchen waiting to go out? Or is it another problem?

Anyway - Turtle Bay. Probably absolutely fine for the office Christmas night out, but not much else. And unfortunately for them, looking around tonight, we don’t seem to do Christmas nights out any more.

The Herald: Turtle BayTurtle Bay (Image: free)

Menu: Another monster chain hits town, this time promising Caribbean flavours: jerk dishes, west Indian curries, soul food. You’ve seen this movie. 3/5

Atmosphere: It’s huge. Imagine a barn decorated like a Caribbean beach bar and you’ll get the vibe. Just opened and very quiet (sound system aside) when in. 3/5

Price: Starters are from £6.30, that jerk lamb was actually £17.30; it’s pricey for what it is. And by that I mean ordinary chain restaurant food. Oh, the Diet Coke was £2.80. 3/5

Service: Our waitress was great: friendly, helpful and, although she was ordered back to the table repeatedly to seek drink orders, she did a good job. 5/5

Food: Honestly? It’s pretty easy to add big flavours from sauce bottles and that’s what they do. Underlying food, though, was pretty poor and the jerk lamb plain awful. 5/10

Total 19/30