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3
  • Food3
  • Service3
  • Value2.5
  • Ambiance3.5
  • Reviews74

Reef, The

4172 Main Street
Vancouver, BC V5V3P7
Tel: (604) 874-5375 Reserve Online
Neighbourhood: East Side

Reviews

Displaying 21 - 40 of 74 Reviews FoundSort: Useful | Helpful | Reviews | Date
Disappointed in portion size, but good overall
By frodowm of van (20 Reviews)
Submitted Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 11:28am [Dine in]

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.

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Could have been better...
By RickL of vancouver (10 Reviews)
Submitted Monday, October 25, 2010 - 10:09pm [Dine in]

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???

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The only thing memorable were the drinks...
By missy604 of UBC , Vancouver (17 Reviews)
Submitted Friday, June 25, 2010 - 2:22am [Dine in]

...because they were the only ones with flavour . I have eaten at several Carribean restuarants and was excited to try this one. I was extremely disappointed. Their jerk chicken wings were just ok. Their Jamaican patties lacked the flavour I was used to. The pastry although flaky I found was a bit ont he tough side. I ordered the chicken curry as my main dish and it was bland. I had to douse it with hot sauce, hoping that it would jolt the flavour out of this sad dish. Unfortunately it didn't work. Even my friend who had been there before and suggested we go to this place was also surprised. We decided never to go back to this restaurant again.

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Not even close!
By Foodiebynature of Vancouver (14 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, March 24, 2009 - 8:19am [Dine in]

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!

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The crowd is almost always right
By ooomph of Vancouver (16 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, October 26, 2008 - 7:38pm [Dine in]

I stopped here for lunch at 2 pm on a Sunday, and the place was packed inside and out. There are times when the crowd is following pure hype, but The Reef is the real deal.

The decor tries to mimic the style of a real Carribean cafe, and is appropriately rustic. The atmosphere is great for a casual gathering of friends.

They appeared to have a good selection of rum and mixed drinks, but we didn't want alcohol for lunch. Skipping the breakfast/brunch items, we went for West Indian Chicken Curry and Ackee with Saltfish. Jerk chicken was unavailable for lunch, but the waiter promised to put some jerk spice into the curry, which was nice. The food was delicious, and I would like to come back for dinner another time.

Service was slow but very friendly. They did have a packed house, so I'm not going to judge them too much on speed, but I was extremely satisfied with the relaxed attitude of our waiter.

Definitely recommended.

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Great Ambiance
By twcjen of Vancouver (15 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, April 29, 2008 - 9:15am [Dine in]

The food was awesome, I tried the Calypso Oxtail and the ribs. For appy's the Jamacian Patty and the Jerk Wings were great. The shots (rude boy) was huge 3 oz. Would definitely recommend to others. Pub style, so dress casual or in comfortable clothes. Difficult to find parking though...but worth the trouble!

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Horrible service, oily food
By honey915 of Kitsilano (16 Reviews)
Submitted Monday, March 24, 2008 - 10:00am [Dine in]

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.

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Loud place w/decent food & great service
By The-Food-Experts of Vancouver, Burnaby, Sidney (11 Reviews)
Submitted Saturday, February 16, 2008 - 9:36pm [Dine in]

The person I took w/ me had been here before and had nothing but great reviews. On the other hand, my bf had gone with a group before christmas and said the food was crap....I felt like something caribbean so I was looking forward to some jerk chicken/some other meat. Arrived there and it was really dark...the lights are really dim and there's a fire place, so it was great on a cold rainy day...however, this type of atmosphere isn't a great place for conversation, unless you have a nice loud voice and don't mind yelling across the table to talk to your friend. The service is really attentive and they seem really friendly.
-Started w/ the caribbean calarmi for $9. It was excellent, but for the amount you pay for, wow, it's so little! Go to earls/greek places, you're guaranteed for a nice portion...it's a nice appy, but not enough to share. I ordered the pork jamaican jerk pork (recommended by the server) and my friend ordered the Maracas Bay Mahi Mahi (which the server raved on and on about how it was the best thing ever). We got our meals, I tried a bit of hers, and she tried a bit of mine..and it was okay. I don't think I was a fan of the coleslaw...from what i can remember it was huge slices of cabbage that was worse than the pre-bought kind, and the rice was normal. The pork was a bit on the spicey side, which was fine, but nothing to rave about...was I disappointed? A little...I tried my friends mahi mahi was a good portion, and her coconut rice was really good...maybe if I got her dish, I would consider my rating a 4...but would i go again? Nah...I had to text my bf and tell him he was right, this place isn't worth going to again.

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very carribean feel
By gap87 of Vancouver (14 Reviews)
Submitted Saturday, May 26, 2007 - 8:48pm [Dine in]

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.

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Love this place (possibly undeservingly)!
By trentm of North Surrey (12 Reviews)
Submitted Saturday, September 16, 2006 - 11:18am [Dine in]

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.

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Nothing to write home about
By jazmina of east vancouver (14 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - 1:52am [Dine in]

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.

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Something different
By Caera of Main, Vancouver (30 Reviews)
Submitted Wednesday, December 13, 2006 - 10:35pm [Dine in]

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.

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Need to go back to basics
By doobie of Burnaby (4 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, July 14, 2013 - 9:52am [Dine in]

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.

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Wrong Side of the Bed.
By baseball of Vancouver (1 Review)
Submitted Saturday, August 20, 2011 - 6:54pm [Dine in]

One of the worst servers I've ever met. I cannot comment on the service as a whole, but one particular server was rude. She never said please or thank you, as soon as the last sip of beer was gone she asked if we would want the bill. The restaurant was not busy and there was more than enough room for lots of people so it is not as though we were being rude.

We left in a horrible mood. This server would be better suited to be a Customs Officer.

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Dissapointingly Bland
By MainlyDiningOut of Vancouver - Main St. (3 Reviews)
Submitted Saturday, October 9, 2010 - 6:47pm [Dine in]

I've been to the reef a number of times over the last few years and have always enjoyed my food. Last evening I ordered the Rosehall Rundown and was completely disappointed. The coconut/tomato broth tasted like luke-warm mayo, the seasonal vegetables amounted to a few roughly cut, undercooked peppers, and the tilapia was overdone and soggy. Do not order this dish unless you can't stand spicy food. I definitely feel that my $15 was wasted. I tried my girlfriend's Mission Tacos, priced at $9, and instantly became jealous.

From now on I will stick to their more flavourful jerk dishes. Other than that, the service and ambiance were acceptable as always, but they really need to turn the tacky "world-music" down.

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Bad food, bad service.
By Grits of Vancouver (3 Reviews)
Submitted Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 11:15am [Dine in]

The space is nice for a late night rum, and they do have some nice ones, if you can get the attention of the pretentious hipster waiter or bartender. But don't bother with the food. Form over function, style over taste. We'd had such a mediocre experience the first time that when we were forced back with a group, we decided to just get a beef pie. Good grief. I assumed they got them from Cisco or something, but these weren't even that good. Hell, the ones from the costco freezer are better.

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Why Did My Friend recommend This restaurant?
By JohnnyItalian of Vancouver Area (1 Review)
Submitted Sunday, June 20, 2010 - 11:28am [Dine in]

I don't still know.
We didn't bother sticking around as soon as we paid. The restaurant's quality was horrid anyway. Our clothes smell of sticky grease! Ventilation was awful!? Staff was so rude and tried to feed us with cutlery that was dirty! We saw rice and grease on cutlery we were about to use, and so we asked for clean cutlery because it was obvious that someone was eating there just before us. Not sure why these people even want to be in this business if they are not interested in customer service or why people find this funky. I do not recommend no matter what you order due to the above issues.

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The Reef on Main - YUCK!
By riceandpease of Vancouver (1 Review)
Submitted Saturday, June 19, 2010 - 8:07pm [Dine in]

I was at the Reef on Main on June 18 for dinner with a friend. We decided to sit outside which was OK however it took AN HOUR to get our dinner. We did start off with a share plate of yam fries which weren't very good, overcooked and greasy - the dip was delicious however. When our dinners came came, they both looked fine until we TASTED them. The coleslaw was warm, the ackee and saltfish was lukewarm The roti was more roti than filling. The rice and peas were almost tasteless which is not the Jamaican/Caribbean way to cook rice and peas - you must flavour them! The only thing that saved dinner was the 2 complimentary johnny cakes. We didn't have any alcohol and the total bill was $40 with tip. My friend insisted on tipping because the server was the only saving grace of our dinner.

I have eaten at the Reef on Commercial (brunch) and it was outstanding. I will likely never eat at the Reef again - at either Vancouver location. It's too bad that Vancouver just can't get it together to serve consistently righteous Caribbean food.

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good times and good food
By kittybum of vancouver (1 Review)
Submitted Sunday, November 15, 2009 - 9:20pm [Dine in]

My friend and I came for dinner on recommendation from an aquaintance. From when we opened the door, we felt welcomed into a very cozy, bustling, fun atmosphere with great music. We were greeted quickly with a smile and were seated at a table right by a fireplace, which was lovely as it was cold and rainy outside.
I had a mojito which was perfect and my friend had a red stripe.
Our server was bubbly and prompt bringing us thier version of bread on a table which are warm cornmeal dumplings they call johnny cakes. We had to have another round as they were moreish to say the least.
I ordered the jerk wings to start and my friend had the mission tacos.
The wings were fall off the bone tender with just the right amount of spice and the mission tacos were large enough to be a meal in themselves! They were stuffed with jerk chicken and cheddar with fresh cut salsa. Yum!
For a main course, I had a dish called the Dominican Beef that was amazing. It was tender pieces of tenderloin marinated in a what tasted like garlic and cumin and topped with salsa verde on mashed with vegetables. The portion was impressive and the server was quick to wrap up my left overs for me.
My friend had the oxtail stew which was something new to both of us. Very flavourful and rich with potato and carrot on rice and beans.
We were both very full so we decided to skip dessert, maybe next time.
Our food came out in good time and our server kept the drinks on the table. We tried some rum punch which was strong and fruity and a blended drink with mango and rum that was very refreshing and is now my favorite patio drink.
This was the first time either of us had been to a Caribbean restaurant and we will certainly be back to try more of the menu.

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Save Your Hard Earned Money!TERRIBLE
By iloveveggies of westend (2 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, November 15, 2009 - 11:58am [Dine in]

Checked out the website for the Reef last night, it looked funky and different and the food and drinks sounded wonderful, so we decided to give it a try. Unforunately my boyfriend and I were very disappointed. The waitress was bland, just as the food was. We asked to move to another table that was empty and she was strangely annoyed? She told us she would set the table. Well she didnt come back nor did she set the other table. Instead we watched her walk by it a couple times. Finally we asked another wiatress if we could move to the table and she promptly wiped it down and helped us move our stuff over.
Now to the food: Ackee&Saltfish, and Island Thyme Chicken, TERRIBLE! The fish dish looked and tasted like slop! The Chicken dish looked bland, tasted bland and was dry as a cardboard box. Not worth the $15. The seasonal veggies it was pared with was 2 small chunks of red pepper. There was no butter or sauce for the mashed potatoes and no condiments offered on the table. Our waitress was so in her own world she ignored us the whole time, only to ask if were were finished. She never asked how our food was, or if we would like to pack up the left over's. The place is a dump with the tables and chairs on their last legs. The Dj mixed terrible beats together and it was way to loud to talk to the person next to you. Perhaps this is why the service is so terrible, as all of them have become deaf, so they say why bother asking any questions if I cant here the response!

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