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.
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.
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.
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!
Went here for a late breakfast on a Sunday and had their basic eggs, hash, sausage and toast. Nice big portion, yummy home fries and eggs scrambled to perfection. Fast service on the patio, however the 2-person table we were seated at was really tiny and a bit cramped, but it beats being inside on a sunny day. Waitress kept forgetting to refill my coffee but was cute about it when I reminded her for the third time. Would definitely come here again for breakfast!
The patio is also full whenever I walk by it, so I had to try the food out. Great low prices, really delicious food although it's all over the map - Indian, Carribean, etc. The service is poor - takes them forever to finally come to your table, probably because they're too busy just talking amongst themselves. A fun place to go for a gathering
Me and my wife went there a few hours ago was very busy ordered drinks which were okay for starters ordered jerk chicken wings which were almost burned and heated in oven not fresh and not flavorful.For main course ordered Chicken curry and jerk chicken .believe me after a few bites we left our food paid the bill and went to Mc Donalds.I have eaten authentic Jamaican food jerk chicken is supposed to be dry and spicy here it was just salty with no spice and curry chicken was without any flavour.I wont recommend this place to any one.Its far from jamaican.
I had heard good things about the Reef and when I visited recently I left a bit disappointed. While I could find no fault with anything in particular it just didn't quite live up to my expectations. I think if I returned again I would skip having a main meal and just go for drinks and appertisers. It looked like a great place to sit down with good friends and talk your way through a relaxing Sunday afternoon.
This is a great Jamaican restaurant. I went not expecting anything special and was pleasantly surprised.
The atmosphere is great and sets the mood. The food, oh my, the food was excellent! I had the Jamaican Jerk with pork tenderloin and my boyfriend had the Island Thyme Chicken and our friend that introduced us had his usual, the Kingston Quesadilla. All three were outstanding, the Jerk was perfect, not outrageously spicy or salty. Oh, and I can't forget the Johnny cakes, they are these delicious, almost doughut like balls that you spread butter onto. They are a great beginning to the meal.
Also the drinks were pretty and great and the list extensive.
I will definitely be returning and recommending it friends.
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.
just goes to show that even the worst restaurant experience can be improved by the right date. We still managed to have a good time in spite of a disastrous restaurant experience.
we were hungry (and thirsty), so we consulted with the server about ordering something that would arrive quickly and tide us over until the rest of the meal arrived. The starter actually arrived at the same time as everything else ONE HOUR AFTER WE ORDERED. And it was cold when it arrived.. Its just too long to wait. We were really patient. The server (who spoke to us only twice all evening) didn't even acknowledge the time it took for our order to arrive and when we mentioned it, shrugged it off. Didn't feel like anyone really cared. we drank to pass the time and enjoyed the atmosphere, but won't go back again.
Alright... Only reason I haven't written a review on The Reef before is that I hadn't known about this site long. I've frequented The Reef ever since it opened at this location. While the menu's changed over time.... unfortunately some of my favorite apps have gone with the cooks. Mmmmm Dean's Doubles were great. Tostados too.
However, that's not to say that the rest of the menu isn't great. I've been looking for good Roti for as long as I can remember. To date, I only know of two places in the Lower Mainland that have it. While The Reef is my second choice for Roti, it's still pretty good.
The atmosphere is one of the best parts for me. I haven't come across another restaurant which can match it. It’s always abuzz with floods of patrons and deservingly so. This summer, make sure you get there early to grab a patio seat, order up a pitcher or 5 of Mojitos and just relax and enjoy the music while you people watch. By the way… try the Ox Tail. ;)
I reserved a table of six the day before the dinner, and when the company got there-- it was all ready for us to go even though the restaurant looked fairly busy. All of our company enjoyed it, it was a great dining experience especially on a chilly winter night. The food was delicious (my lamb was incredibly salty but I liked it that way), the server was approachable and friendly and checked up on us every once in a while, and the ambiance was just great-- it was all funky and chill. A good place to have dinner with friends. I'd definitely go again.
It was my first time having Carribean food. We've ordered chicken wings, deep fried shrimps and ox-tail with rice. As well, we had a rum (fruit infused) with coke and hibiscus with soda. I really enjoy the atmosphere of this restaurant on Main. It's a casual neighbourhood restaurant. My friend and I really enjoy the dishes. The portions were good for our appetite and the taste suits us - not too strong or weak. I really like the chicken wings and the tartar like sauce that it came with. They were very dark, but tasty. The drinks were alright. The rum (fruit infused) was very fragrant, it was pretty good with the coke. The hibiscus soda on the other hand was a bit unusal. I am not a big fan of it. I would go back for another oxtail with rice, the chicken wings and the rum with coke.
I visited Reef, with my husband and a couple of our friends for dinner tonight. It was excellent from beginning to end. We started off with the yummy fried bread then had yam fries, lemongrass prawns, then each of us had a different entrée so that we could share. From jerk chicken to ribs we finished everything. The hot sauce was so spicy and addictive I had to buy a bottle! And to top things off we had fried bananas for desert. I loved it!
If you are tired to the typical Vancouver trendy restaurant with long rectangular plates with, tiny portions of the French Asian fusion and snobbish service..... Well go to the Reef! it is very original.
Ambiance - the decorations are great it feels like you’re in hut in the Caribbean. Very laid back, music is great it keeps everyone sort of dancing on their seats.
Drinks - are amazing pitchers of very good mojitos for only $14
Food - very good, instead of bread you get Johnny Cakes (a deep friend bread) oh soooo good with mango butter. Yes! Mango butter.
There is something on the menu for every taste and if you like it SPICY just ask for hot sauce and you will get the most incredible habanero/papaya hot sauce that will clear your sinuses for sure.
Like any place if you have never been there it could go wrong if you don't know what to order, so I recommend:
Yam fries to start and share, the mahi mahi as main coarse and for dessert the coconut ice cream served in a half coconut.
No offence, but this food is not West Indian at all,lol. I'd have to agree that the atmosphere is great and it reminds me of nice cool Caribbean nights. However, the food is another story. I tried pratically everything. The jerk shrimp wasn't spicy. The only thing good about this place were the ribs. I admit that, they were sweet. And the fact that they sell Carib beer. Other than that... I'd have to really want a Carib to return.
I like the idea of the Reef. It was a really cool restaurant but when I went last summer it was super hot in there and it was hard to enjoy my food while beads of sweat rolled down my forehead. The restaurant faces West getting all the afternoon sun. The food was actually quite good and it was priced reasonably.
Tried the Reef for the first time and quite enjoyed it. Food was very good with excellent combination of flavours and good portion sizes. Plantain appetizers were excellent and with excellent jerk mayo dipping sauce.
Although there was only one server working, service was prompt and organized. Everything was served warm and the server was excellent at making menu suggestions and pointing us in the right direction to try Jamaican food.
Ambience: Lighting was adequate and music wasn't too loud. Was a definate fun atmosphere and good Reggae playing.
Overall enjoyed this restaurant and would return
I read a review once that said the Vancouver Reef is better than Victoria's. Having enjoyed the food at the Victoria location (service in Victoria was pretty awful every time we went), I was looking forward to the Vancouver location. It was alright.
Music was way too loud, so our party of 6 had to shout to hear one another, and in the end we mostly gave up on conversation and skipped dessert to save our eardrums. Besides the music volume, the ambiance was interesting - tropical feel for sure.
The service was good - our waitress was quick and obliging, although she forgot to bring out one of the salads, and it nevertheless appeared on the bill.
The food itself was okay. Hubby had his usual jerk chicken roti and enjoyed it immensely. I went for the ribs, and it wasn't as good as they make it in Victoria. There was more bone than meat, and the portion was smaller too. My mum didn't have much choice in the way of vegetarian options.
The best thing about the Reef is their mojitos and mo-jitas. A must-try.
Overall, not a bad place, but not all that good either. I probably won't head back in a hurry ...only when I really want that mojito!
I don't know any other Caribbean restaurant that serves tasty mohitos. Any suggestions?
The fish dishes are excellent and good portions.
The service was fine, I never had any problems.
I also like the ambience, eclectic and unique.