Monday, September 30, 2013

Great value at The Reef

The Reef on UrbanspoonAfter a painfully pricey dinner at Fresh, going to The Reef on Commercial Drive just made my experience at Fresh all the worse because of its great value. For just over half what I paid at Fresh, my friend and I had a very filling dinner for two.

The main drawback of The Reef is that it is sadly sort of a rather lousy place for dessert. They really only have the one fried banana dessert, plus maybe one more that varies. When I went last Saturday, it was mini dark chocolate ganache pie with coconut cream. We were pretty full anyway, so we gave it a pass.
Depending on what time you drop by, it can also be busy enough that you will have to wait for a table.

Here's how our dinner broke down:

Johnny Cakes (complimentary)
  • Free with your order is one Johnny Cake per person. This ping-pong sized donut needs to be remembered as part of your meal because in general the portions you get at The Reef are good for what you pay.
Tuxpan Tacos ($9) Two soft corn tortillas with island spiced fried tilapia, cho cho apple slaw, lime aioli & fresh tomato salsa - from the "Small Tings" menu
  • For $9 you get two large soft-shell tacos. The fish portion is a breaded slab of fish about 1 inch wide, maybe 1/2 inch thick, and roughly five inches long. Combined with the accompanying slaw, you've got between 1-1/2 to 2 burger's worth of food here. It works out to a nice, medium meal.
  • If you don't eat this fast enough, the wet slaw soaks the taco and then it becomes impossible to neatly roll and pick up without the taco breaking apart.
Jerk Tofu Roti ($11) Served with rice n’ peas and coleslaw
  • This is quite a large roll of basically a mild curry (the "rice n' peas") filling in a thin wrap. It's probably about two burger patties worth of filling. Throw in a drink and appetizer and you probably won't have room for dessert.
  • The tofu is a slab seared on the outside (presumably in jerk sauce), and cut into large slices. There seemed to be quite a bit of anise flavour to whatever was seared on the outside of the tofu pieces, and that was personally off-putting for me.
  • I think this would have come across better with a sort of tofu scramble style filling instead of the curry + tofu slabs style used. I suspect, however, that the kitchen assembles the roti from generic rice n' peas filling and whatever protein is chosen by the diner.
  • Overall, I didn't find this yummy because of the anise. Removing the tofu slabs made it tastier, but it was still too mildly spicy for my palate. Boring for $11, but it's hard to argue with the portion size.
Kola Champagne ($4.50) "Jamaican cream soda"
  • Nothing to write home about. If you are looking for a Jamaican drink, the Tiger Malt is more interesting.
Plus one order of plantain chips ($6) as an appetizer, and a diet coke ($2.25), our dinner-for-two came to only $32.75 before tax and tip.
Price varies a lot with some menu items at $20, but even their under-$10 "Small Tings" menu can provide a filling meal.

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