Every town has one spot that just can’t seem to support a business for more than a few years. Sometimes the location is bad or the competition is too fierce, but either way, the spot is a revolving door of openings and closings. In the Bethany area, Turquoise has been occupying this dreaded spot for a few years, which is a more impressive time period than some of the other restaurants I’ve seen come and go from this little strip of shops across from Sea Colony.
My family and I have been to Turquoise a number of times since it’s opened and made a point to go when they still had trivia nights. In years past, the food has been passable, but unremarkable, though my family and I continued to dine here for convenience. To make things worse, the mostly bare walls, wooden chairs, and lack of any sort of interesting decor did nothing to help the restaurant stick in my mind. To its credit, the friendly servers and bartenders brightened up the dull space considerably. As you can probably tell, I’ve been a bit ambivalent to this place: not awful, but not memorable. However, the most recent experience I had here nudged it off of this middling road.
Stopping in for a bite on a lazy night at the beach, my mom and I took care of our drinks before anything else. I decided to try a Raspberry Mojito while my madre went for a specialty cocktail called Two Cs. The raspberry puree in my mojito added some nice tartness, but not too much sweetness to my drink. I did prefer my mom’s beverage though, which was pretty similar to most of the cocktails I gravitate towards when dining out. It was light, had some great, crisp cucumber flavors, and included gin. I also appreciated the salted rim that enhanced the cucumber flavors in the drink. The best part of both drinks though was that our bartender could mix a strong cocktail without it tasting too boozy, the ideal in my book.
While waiting for our drinks, we looked over the various appetizers offered and there were a few that caught our attention. One of our favorites was the classic Spanakopita which was rich and creamy with just enough crunch to it from the golden phyllo dough. Out of all of the dishes we’ve had at Turquoise over the years, the spanakopita has always been consistently satisfying.
The other starter we tried was the Crab Bruschetta. This one wasn’t as exciting as the spanakopita and could have used some additional balsamic vinegar, but it certainly wasn’t bad. The best element of the appetizer was the heirloom tomatoes because the milder yellow tomato balanced out the more vibrant red one, creating some more diverse flavors than traditional bruschetta. Even though I needed some more excitement, these starters were a pleasant way to kick off our night before our entrees came out.
Despite the good appetizers, my opinion of this family restaurant didn’t really change until the main courses came out. Mine was so good that the spanakopita could have been served mushy and I still would be gushing about my meal. Over the course of the night, our friendly, helpful bartender informed us that the restaurant just brought in a new young chef a few months ago, and it’s made a world of difference to the food. This new chef, who currently has control over the nightly specials, has really brought some new, more enticing life into the place. Before, the fish was forgettable and drowned in a typical red sauce, but the fish I tried this season was anything but underwhelming.
Unlike most blackened fish where blackened translates into burned, the Mahi Mahi Special I tried was a well-seasoned, steaky fish that still had nice flaky texture to it. There was some great tartness and acidity from the fresh tomatoes, and the roasted potatoes were some of the best I’ve ever had. They were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside with just enough seasoning to brighten the potatoes without masking their subtle, buttery flavors. I was so full after our starters that I couldn’t finish the plate off, but I did have to physically stop myself from taking “just one more bite.” Eventually I had to stop eating unless I wanted to turn into Augustus Gloop, and my meal was wrapped up to be enjoyed the next day for lunch.
My mom went with a more traditional Greek dish and ordered the Gyro for her dinner. According to her, you can’t go wrong with a gyro unless the meat is dry, tough, and rubbery, so she was pleased with her late night selection. Gyros have never really been a food that I enjoy, so I didn’t take a bite, but my mom swears this dish was wholly fulfilling. However, she also enjoys fish sandwiches from fast food chains, so take her opinion with a grain of salt. Given the quality of the other dishes during the evening, I have confidence in this particular opinion, though I still thought a disclaimer about her general tastes was the least that I could give you.
My opinion on Turquoise has changed completely and I’m really hoping this new chef will keep it up as they give him more say over the menu. There’s still a little room for improvement, but how many restaurants out there are completely perfect? This little spot across the street from our condo is definitely on an upwards trajectory, and if they keep it up, I think it’ll soon become a standard stop whenever I’m down here and looking for a more casual night out.