A taste of what's to come: We look at Tranquil Turtle's menu ahead of opening
- Credit: Tranquil Turtle
Tranquil Turtle has welcomed the Comet for an exclusive first look - and taste - of some of its signature dishes ahead of its grand opening.
The former Crooked Billet site is still in the progress of being completely transformed into an atmospheric and high-end restaurant.
As the restaurant prepares to opens its doors after around six months of construction, Comet editor Anne Suslak and chief reporter Georgia Barrow got a taste of what's to come.
We have seen our historic High Street and surrounding areas grow in vibrancy as we've welcomed new, stunning independent restaurants over the last few years. This type of cuisine, and the way it is prepared, will once again bring that freshness to the town.
Aiming to offer something for everyone from the food to the atmosphere, the menu options range from a juicy steak to a multitude of vegan-friendly delights.
Head chef Noel Busby and sous chef Beth Watt prepared some of the restaurant's signature dishes, including vegan toast with mushrooms, ribeye and fillet steaks, a scallop starter and a glorious gold-plated burger.
Noel said: "We have a foraging company who have been hired to forage the mushrooms. It's so important to us that everything we use is of the highest quality.
"You eat with your eyes before anything else - so if food looks like this, for me I want to eat it!
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"Our steaks have been sourced from local butchers. It is as fresh as fresh can be.
"They are 28 day matured, and all of our steaks are served with mushroom, tomato and shallot and pink peppercorn sauce. The way it's cooked allows those nice, rich flavours to come through."
Alongside providing the people of Stevenage and beyond with a unique dining experience, Tranquil Turtle will be investing in its staff, with growth and development at the heart of what they do.
Noel said: "Some of the people we are taking on have experience in working in cafés. We want to be able to give people experience - and I can always learn something from a young chef, just as much as they can learn from me.
"I'll be coming out and talking to our customers, taking feedback. I thrive off of speaking to customers."
The kitchen is kitted out with its own smoker, where meat - which is locally sourced - will be smoked on the premises.
One particular flex is the 'gold-plated' section of the menu, for the extra special occasions where you might like to treat yourself. On offer will be a gold-plated beef burger, or gold-plated wagyu fillet steak.
And the experience doesn't stop there. From starters through to desserts, the kitchen staff want every meal to have the wow-factor.
Whether you have a sweet tooth or not, there's something for you. Cheese boards with a choice of either six or 10 different British cheeses will be on offer alongside the sweet treats.
The show stopper of the afters menu is the Blossom Tree pudding, complete with moat - an ode to the restaurant's theme and décor.
When the restaurant is off and running, Noel and Beth will also be launching a YouTube channel, with masterclasses in how to recreate your favourite Tranquil Turtle dishes.
General manager Andrew Tandy said: "It's all about the long term vision, and this appealed to me because it's a niche that is needed. Prior to the pandemic there was a shift where customers began looking for an experience.
"Some restaurant chains suffered so much during the pandemic because it may have been harder to adapt operations, compared to the local independents. We will be able to flex to clients needs, and aim to be more personable.
"It's still going to have a family feel to it, and will be accessible to everyone, while providing a premium, high-end experience.
"We want you leaving here saying 'that was really special'. We're about having our guests interact with our staff."
The former Greene King-run Crooked Billet pub - in Symonds Green Lane - closed its doors in June 2020.
The official opening for Tranquil Turtle is December 4.