IT’S all a bit of a blur to be honest, a wonderful heady, hedonistic whirly-gig of an evening, a kaleidoscope of colour, music, food and fun, all accompanied by a reggae beat and a hint of heat.

Turtle Bay had so far eluded me, my heart already being given to Spiced Roots on the Cowley Road where the Tobagan owners wow me with their authentic dishes and wonderful rum selection.

But this was an 18th birthday and my boy wanted to celebrate at Turtle Bay, so here we were, swept up by the vibrancy and energy emanating from this new branch of a nationwide chain, which replaced the pub Far From The Madding Crowd in 2015.

But Turtle Bay doesn’t pretend to be high falutin’, fun is the name of the game here and it oozes from every sunburnt pore.

Absolutely packed with revellers when we arrived on a Saturday night, like the crew of the Black Pearl on rum ration day, booking is imperative.

As it was we squeezed around our table, breathing in, edging round the other guests. Put it this way, you needed a tour guide to get to the loo.

Despite the bright paint, pop art, the rickety shack decor, the beats and buzzing atmosphere, Turtle Bay is obviously a chain. It has that easy-come easy-go, flow about it, something about the space and the menus.

It’s a homogenized version of the real thing but if it introduces more of us to Caribbean food and broadens our horizons, then it’s all good.

The cocktails flowed thick and fast, too many to mention as Happy Hour was upon us. They weren’t cheap either, but then they never are in chains and it didn’t seem to put us off as we plied our way through mojitos galore, koko coladas and stranger sounding ones: Tease Me, One Love, which sound more like the Top 40 than a drink.

The menu is huge and slightly bewildering, so we ordered lots of chicken wings and rotis, some salads and chilli squid and got stuck in to our starters.

None of them were particularly generous in size but the rotis were different enough to be interesting, retaining that kick of chilli long after the last bite.

Then the curried goat, a chicken burger whose Caribbean origins were somewhat questionable, beef ribs, lamb rump and some wraps – chickpea, prawn – and a garlic flatbread.

To be honest, name the food and Turtle Bay had put their sunny twist on it. From Caribbean Pimms to the Kingston pulled pork toastie, supergreen salad and banana and toffee cheesecake, nothing it seemed was sacred. They have covered all the bases, meaning the less adventurous among us will be right at home.

It did mean however that the chicken wings, for example, didn’t have the same depth of flavour or heat as the Spiced Roots version which blow your head off, leaving diners sweating and red-faced.

The mains are better – lots of curries with mango, coconut, butter beans, fish and those recognisable hints of star anise, cinnamon, plantain and sweet potato.

The goat curry (marinated and slowly braised in a house blend of curry spices, scotch bonnet, citrus juice and fresh ginger with onion chutney, fresh green seasoning, coconut rice ‘n’ peas and festival dumplings) was a respectable dish and much enjoyed.

It was all going so well until the lamb rump arrived. Tough as old boots it was impossible to cut, like shoe leather with very little meat left once the bone had been extracted.

Considering it was supposed to be soft, succulent and falling off the bone, it was a shame because until then everything had been fine. Elsewhere we saw diners scratching their heads at the same problem – a group of tourists at a nearby table stared in disbelief at the lamb’s measly size.

We’d brought our own birthday cake so avoided pudding as the merriment continued and the cocktails continued to wash over us. But with a late licence until 1.30am there was no reason to leave.

A fun night out then and while not a patch on the authenticity of Spiced Roots on Cowley Road, it ticked all the boxes for my 18-year-old son.