The Reef is a Caribbean restaurant decorated almost like a stereotyped Caribbean vacation spot. It's busy. And when the DJ is on, the music is very loud. The food is okay. Value for price is quite good -- would be better if the food were tastier, I think.
While we were waiting for our third dining companion before making our dinner order, I asked for the Tasting Platter for two. What came was a huge plate that had us daunted about being able to finish dinner! For $16, you got about a half dozen wings, two fat prawns, a large bowl's worth of chickpea stew, and a lot of plantain chips. It's a big meal all on its own, and a light meal for two persons. For $16.
For $18, you could have instead gotten a small bowl of complex and tasty pasta at Secret Location. I don't want to say that one is better than another, but if you're looking for tasty enough + filling + good price, then places like The Reef and Fray are good choices. Once you start looking for interesting + gourmet, you're looking at smaller portions and a certain amount of hit-or-miss. What The Reef offers is a sort of comfort food that has a wider general appeal.
As far as Caribbean offerings go, their $18 Dine Out Vancouver menu is... weird. Pulled beef brisket sliders? Really?
Plantain chips with Jerk Mayo
Curried Pear & ginger soup
Jerk chicken or tofu with rice n' peas & colelsaw
Pulled beef brisket sliders with crisp fried onions , yam fries & jerk mayo
Pan Seared snapper with Sauce Chien on coconut rice with seasonal vegetables
Warm chocolate, coconut rice puddingHere's how dinner turned out:
Fried bananas with mango ice cream & rum caramel
Tasting Platter (for 2 persons; $16; not part of the $18 Dine Out Vancouver menu) - Chana (warm garam masala curried chickpea salad with organic greens, roti & dahi), plantain chips, jerk wings and coco prawns (rolled in toasted coconut and served with a minted avocado yogurt)
- "Organic greeens" is a token salad, no dressing (or hardly any).
- The chickpea "salad" is more like chickpeas in a sort of stew or paste. Get a spoon. What is it with restaurants and not handing out spoons?
- The roti is quite thick, about 3 millimeters. Not very useful for scooping up the chickpeas. I recommend you just take bites or tears off it and ask for a spoon for the chickpeas.
- Curried chickpeas tasted more South Asian than anything.
- About a dozen wings. Fall-off-the-bone tender meat. Not spicy-hot at all.
- Two fat prawns. Not smallish in-between-a-shrimp-and-a-prawn sized prawns, but respectably sized crustaceans.
- Overall, a sort of "meh" plate. But good portions and easy to share. Makes a light appy for 4 persons, but you'd have to fight over the two prawns.
- Barely any bite of ginger. Pervasive sweetness from the pear. Really tasty and interesting. Probably the best item from the entire Dine Out menu, and vegan too!
- Sadly, you cannot get this off the menu or separately. It is apparently just for Dine Out Vancouver.
- This item is presently on their January feature menu.
- Pretty basic and tasty but nothing too special.
- Moist beef. Not a huge amount of it, but enough.
- Generous amount of yam fries. Crispy on the outside, very creamy texture on the inside.
- This seemed rather boring to me. Tasted like fish with a lime zing to it (from the "dog sauce", which you may or may not be pleased to hear contains no parts of any dog).
- The coconut rice was fragrant and tasty.
- This looked soooo gross. The single fried banana looked vaguely like:
- A turd.
- A giant dead worm.
- Some sort of rotted organ ripped out of some...creature.
- Not a lot of rum flavour coming through here from anything. Maybe I needed to get more of the sauce onto each spoonful.
- Mango ice cream could have used more mango flavour.
- Coconut rice pudding with chocolate mixed in. Strangely not a exciting as it sounds, even with the chocolate, which is typically a safe dessert choice.