The Reef in Vancouver serves Jamaican themed dishes including jerk chicken and pork, escovèche and tomato jalapeno vodka soup. They also offer a decent selection of cocktails, wines, Jamaican Dragon stout, Red Strip, and Carib beer from Trinidad.
When a person has vacationed in a far away place when young, had kids, and almost forgot about their experiences, it's great to find a place that brings it all back. Case in point, is The Reef. We found the food authentic and tasteful. The music was up beat and properly delivered. Gratuities were well deserved as the staff were pleasant and always there when needed. It felt like we were back on the island, although it went by way too fast, Mon.
This place rocks. If the Reef was a girl, her name would be scribbled on guys john with the words, "For a good time, call me" above her name.
Yes, it might not be authentically Jamaican, just like Hons isn't authentically chinese ( I'm shocked too). However, when it comes to unique combination of good food, great atmosphere, and at a low price. Nothing beats the Reef. By far, this place is cheaper than the Locus, and the tempo more upbeat.
As for the food, the Mo Cah Lam Burger is pretty damn good. A great burger with hints of sweet chilli, with roma tomatoes!! (YES ROMA!! not your average jumbo sized field tomatoes). It also comes with crispy deep fried plantains with aeoli sauce on the side.
Overall, it's an awesome place for a pint with buddies or a date with "the girl you met at a club and don't think you want to bring her to a nice place yet because she just might be crazy, so I'm just going to bring her somewhere dark where I can bail if need to", this place absolutely rocks!!
if u ever get a chance to try out their special mussel dish. do it!
its a unique blend of spices that makes me want to order another to go. only served on the dinner menu thou. other than that everythin else is pretty dam good. jerk chicken and yam fries, need i say more.
The Reef. With all the trendsters hanging out here, it has no right being as good as it is.
I notice some people say this place is expensive. The entrees here range from $10-15 and it is plenty of food. I think that is pretty good for the quality and presentation of the food. Maybe this is just about ideal for what one should reasonably expect in this price range.
Anyways, the last time I went the server was very nice and the food was delivered to us less than 10 minutes after we ordered it- pretty damn efficient. They have a nice selection of beers with a Caribbean theme. Bottom line, you have a craving for something a little different and you like food with a lot of flavour, why not try the Reef.
The time we went, there were a dozen flies near the front entrance/patio area. Service ok. Ordered jerk chicken and roti. Would not go back, especially at what they charge for it. Riddim & Spice on Commerical Drive has better jerk (not the best, but way better) and go to Rehanah's Roti on St. John's St. in Port Moody for that specialty.
The place is great if you like relaxing to reggae music with a cold glass of ginger beer or whatever you drink. All the servers are friendly, they have a nice little patio, and I haven't tried the food, but I hear it's pretty good. Also fairly inexpensive and yes, the pina coladas are the best I've had in awhile, like a pineapple coconut smoothie except it gets you tipsy!
Mmmmm...This place is becoming one of my favorites these days.
My favorite here is actually the complimentary Johnny Bread.
They are like really good donuts. I wish they sell them at Tim Hortons!
I can't remember what I had last time, but today, I had Jamaican Jerk Chicken.
It was really delicious and spicy. It's not a boring ambiguous chicken. It's got a good kick to it.
We went here on Friday evening, and it was quite busy, but the service was fine. Maybe their service is not the most prompt sometimes, but this place is so busy, and I'm not in rush when I eat out anyways.
Ambiance is funky and noisy in a good way.
Love their selection of Reggae music.
Food: Reading the other posts it seems like it's not that authentic, but it sure is tasty. I've only had "reef" Caribbean food and I've always been happy with it. The tofu tacos, veggie curry and jerk tofu roti are among my favorite dishes (although I suspect the roti is just a tortilla). They also do THE BEST yam fries I've ever had.
Service: Really good. Servers are always friendly and attentive. Watch out for the commercial drive location though, they're not so great.
Value: $30-$35.00 for a dinner for two people goes down well in my books. Add drinks and it's usually forty bucks or less (with the tip).
Ambiance: kind of that cheesy beachy theme. But it's not obnoxious, well lit and clean. Music is quiet enough to have a conversation over too.
I've been here probably a dozen times and it's always been good. No complaints.
My husband and I went here for dinner before a movie last week. I had the vegetarian roti and a veggie pattie, he had the lamb burger and the wings. He loved his food, as did I. The pattie was big enough for me to have had for supper, and I brought my roti home. I also had the ABC drink, it was nice but still had chunks of ice (it was a blended drink) and you could tell it was made in a cheap blender. The service was polite and attentive, and honestly that's all I ask.
I've eaten at the Reef maybe once a year since it has been open. I like it, but like many restaurants it smells heavily of mediocrity. I mean the Johnny cakes are wonderful, but the other food tends to be somewhat bland. I guess I'm just hard to please.
My wife had the mahi-mahi. I tried some and it was at little overcooked, but tasty. The mussles were done quite well in a creamy sauce. (Don't ever go Stella's for mussles!) I didn't really like my fish and chips. I knew it wasn't the traditional style but, like I said earlier, it was really bland. You get chips, real chips, not fries, potato chips. Blah.
Our server was friendly enough. It was pretty busy, but she did a decent job keeping up. Some dufus was yelling loudly behind me for most of our meal so I can't really give an accurate rating for ambiance. I did find it pretty loud. What is it with restaurants and the noise? So many restaurants pump up the volume so high!
So. I might go back. I might not. I like the selection of rums. So maybe for a drink, but not a meal.
Everything about The Reef was decent. When we arrived on a Saturday evening, we were seated at the bar, since there were no tables remaining. It was relaxing and the bartender was very friendly. I recommend The Reef more for their drinks and for snacking, rather than for a full meal. The bajan fried chicken dish at $14 only yielded one piece of chicken, although it was served with yam fries and coleslaw. The lamb was not as tender as I would've liked, although it was still good to eat. For $16, though, I thought the meat portion was a bit small. The highlight of our eating experience, though, was the deep fried bread served before our meals, which was delicious.
Overall, I'm happy with the dining experience. The flavours were good, service friendly, and drinks tasty. It's always good to try new things, and I'd go back for drinks and snacks, but most likely, not for a full meal.
If you read my other posts here you will see my standards are not hard to meet. We ate here on a Saturday night with reservations at 6 pm. So, yes, it was busy but we had to wait an hour for our food!!! No exageration, try that with kids! We had some good plates with lamb curry and moca burger. However, the quesadilla, Callypso stew, and kids' nachos (burnt) were bland and unappealling. However, I may be over rating the food because we had to wait so long and we were HUNGRY! We didn't take itut on the staff and tipped well because we could see they were trying to make things work. Maybe it all has to do with the kitchen staff???
Been here four times and am always pleased with my meals.
Communal tables on the patio, can be annoying when you're stuck beside a loud person.
The chicken I had for lunch was really good.
Was here for breaky awhile back and quite enjoyed it. I'm not sure if they still have a breaky menu, though.
The Reef’s location is excellent especially if you are on foot. The décor I suppose is okay. The service is good; the wait staff is attentive and friendly.
As for the food, I would have to agree with Beckybee a few posts down. This is by far the least authentic Caribbean restaurant in Vancouver. The recipes have definitely been tailored to the Canadian palette.
I had the Oxtail with rice and peas. The portion was satisfying but the dish itself was a disappointment. The oxtail looked like it had been cooked in ketchup; the dumplings were virtually non existent. The rice was mediocre; I’ve had far better elsewhere. It definitely did not taste how Oxtail should. My dinner companion had the jerk pork which consisted of pepper and to me what tasted like all spice. Very disappointing!
It’s unfortunate that this restaurant with their wraps, quesadillas, and salsas has chosen to rob Vancouverites of the opportunity of enjoying real Caribbean food. The only thing I can say is that if you are from the Caribbean I would not recommend this is not the restaurant. If you are someone who has never had authentic home-cooked Caribbean food then you will enjoy the Canadian/so-called Caribbean fusion.
I wish this establishment would stop representing themselves as Caribbean restaurant as it is CLEARLY not!
I've been to the reef before and I'm familiar with the menu. I wanted to order the "jerk chicken curry" that is normally served wrapped in Roti, except I wanted it with rice instead like other curries on the menu. Our server, very rudely said the jerk chicken curry was basically a normal chicken curry with jerk sauce mixed in. All she said she could do was give me the normal chicken curry with a side of jerk sauce instead. I didn't see why the kitchen couldn't just mix it in and serve with rice.
The yam fries were soaked in oil and mushy, the curry was good but the jerk sauce on the side was unnecessary so I didn't touch it. They give you these yummy bread ball things at the beginning of the meal and we asked for a couple more. She brought then over and charged extra for them which was surprising as I've been to the reef many times and have NEVER been charged for more.
When we got the bill I was charged extra for the jerk chicken sauce as well! Which is just ridiculous. The bad attitude and unpleasant manner of the server made me not want to ever go back here again. Food was lacking too.
First impression was nice decoration with the atmosphere. Altough it was cold and raining outdoor, the restaurant sets a warm tropical mood. I had the jerk chicken quesadilla and a mojito drink. prettty good. The quesadilla was a good size portion which a light tomato salsa and good chunk of sour cream on the side. YUM! It was my first time to have a mojito and i loved it. the Combination of Strawberry soda and mint leaves. Indeed, it was very refreshing.
I fell in love with The Reef the first time I tried it, and frequent it now with friends. It has a hip atmosphere and draws a (mostly) trendy crowd.
To be honest, however, my affection for the place isn't totally deserved. The service ranges from fantastic to downright rude, and it gets really (sometimes painfully) slow during the evening rush. The food also is hit and miss. Sometimes it's delicious and satisfying, other times you feel like you could have cooked it better yourself.
All things considered, it still remains a great place to hang out with friends over a drink and some yam fries while watching the main street hipsters pass you by.
What can I say??? When you can make better food at home what's the point. The reef in victoria is much better as they had a true caribbean chef in the kitchen although that was a good few years back, but the reef here leaves alot to be desired. Don't get me wrong the ambiance is great if you want some drinks and haven't had true caribbean food before, but if you are looking for something outstanding or authentic this is not the place for you.
I've read the other reviews saying that the place isn't really Caribbean, and, I will admit, I wouldn't know the difference anyway, so I was fine with that.
I had the roti which was good, but a little overwhelming with a lot of jerk sauce. My boyfriend had the snapper, which he said was good, but a little overcooked. I forget the name of them right now, but they serve these neat (and probably unhealthy) rolls with your meals that are probably the best part of the whole experience.
The service was fine, no issues.
It was very busy when we went, so we had to sit outside in the direct sunlight, and that wasn't very pleasant. I'd go back, as long as we can sit inside.
I will start off by saying I am a long time supporter of the Reef, from years past, when I'd stop off after work with a few co-workers to sample the amazing rum list. The Roti's were always top notch as was the entire menu. I would endorse and recommend the place to family and friends whole heartedly. But lately, complacency has begin to creep in. True, it has been probably a year since I had been there, but last night found it had sadly slipped another notch.We were down on Main St. with the family and getting hungry, it was my wife who suggested we try the reef as it had been sometime since any of us had eaten there. We arrived just after 5:00 ( this being a Saturday) and found maybe 6 or 8 other diners inside and outside. The server was friendly and came by a few times with drinks and to see if we were ready to order.
We ordered appy's and entre's, the wait was pretty standard. When our appetizers arrived I was impressed, I had the coconut shrimp, they were big and plump and nicely coated, maybe a little over done though, the mango dipping sauce added a nice touch. My wife ordered the crab cakes, though she said they were really good. My one son, had the poutine and found it not salty enough for his liking, but really liked the over all flavour and taste.The main courses arrived timely enough. I ordered the Jerk chicken and potato curry, with extra gravy for $1 extra ( turned out to be $2 extra) and was disappointed by the portions. The plate was filled with coleslaw and white rice, as for the chicken and potato there was a quarter of one potato, halved and maybe 4 small pieces of chicken, wow really? My wife ordered the goat curry, same thing, heavy on the coleslaw and rice, not so much on the meat. Both meals were flavourful, but heavy on the cheap fillers.
My oldest son, ordered the Kingston Quesadilla with yam fries, he really liked the flavours, but found the yam fries a little soggy. It looked like the same oil had been used for one batch to many.
Over all the food has slipped, service is average and prices have probably stayed the same as our last visit. That all said, when I mentioned the small portions to our server she did seem genuine in her response to add another "scoop" of chicken, and that they had changed the portion sizes recently(?)
In all I am quite disappointed with the Reef in 2013, with all the choices of restaurants between Main St. and Commercial Drive, a point I stressed to our server, why would I want to come back again? I use to love this place and would always recommend it, now I probably won't go back.