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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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. ;)
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.