A Bee-View of the Drive – The Reef

by admin - February 5th, 2012.
Filed under: Commercial Drive Restaurant Reviews. Tagged as: , , , , , , , , .

We were excited to see that the next restaurant on our journey up the Drive, The Reef, was participating in Dine Out Vancouver!  Excellent timing, as we got to try a 3 course dinner for only $18.00 per person!  According to the Reef’s website, they opened to “critical acclaim” in May of 1999, and currently have 2 locations. The one near the Bee & Thistle Guest House is located at 1018 Commercial Drive and the other is on Main Street. This funky little restaurant is particularly noticeable in the summer for the lively outdoor patio, but it is seldom that it’s not packed with people when we walk by at any time of year.  We were excited to give it another try as it’s been a long time since we’ve stopped by.

We went early on the first night of Dine out Vancouver, as we anticipated that it would be very busy, and we were not wrong.  The restaurant only had a few guests when we arrived, but very quickly filled up with mostly young people enjoying a Friday night on Commercial Drive.  The server talked us into trying their drink special – the apparently famous “Dark n Stormy” cocktail for $6.00. This was a new taste sensation for us, consisting of ginger “beer” (tea) made in-house and Goslings rum, among other things. Perfect and very warming on a chilly Vancouver evening! They do have other drink specials every night of the week, if one needs an excuse to pop by!  While we were sipping, the host started us off with their complimentary Johnny Cakes with Mango Coconut Butter.  YUM!!

Their Dine out Vancouver menu offered a choice of 2 or 3 menu items for each course. I opted for Plantain Chips with Jerk Mayo for my appy, and Michael went for Curry Lime Chicken Wings with Chayote Apple Slaw. Of the two, we would certainly choose the chips and mayo again as they were delicious.  For a main course, I couldn’t resist Jerk Chicken with Rice Beans and Slaw, while Michael thought the Escovitched Snapper sounded interesting (I had to look up what “escovitched” means – apparently a famous Jamaican dish,  WiWords.com says it’s “A process of cooking whereby meat (typically fish) is fried, then doused liberally with a pickling sauce made from vinegar, pimento,onions, pepper, (and sometimes carrots)”.  Neither of us were blown away by the snapper, but we were happy to have tried it. As for the chicken dish, I discovered that, if one doesn’t like chicken skin, then it’s pointless to order a dish where most of the flavor is on the skin. Michael enjoyed it though.   How is it that I always seem to like the dessert that Michael orders more than I like mine?!  I thought I couldn’t go wrong with Coconut Lime Tart with Mango Coulis – how tropical is that!? But I would have preferred to have a bit more flavor in the tart and a flakier crust, although the coulis was delicious.  He selected the fried banana with ice cream, which was very nice. I’m lucky he’s such a nice guy and shared 50/50.

Our conclusions – we loved the lively atmosphere and some of the food items were terrific (I would go back just for the coconut mango butter!). The Reef definitely is a destination for the young people and we enjoyed the laughter and fun that was happening at almost every table. However, I think we would agree with most of the Yelpers who are giving it an average of 3 stars, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that go up.  The most common comment we have had from our guests is that the service was was not great, but we did not experience that at all. The manager stopped by to speak to us several times and the server was very attentive, even when the place was packed. While we didn’t love a few of the dishes we tried, some of the reviewers have suggested that the Dominica Beef ($16) is excellent, West Indian Curry is recommended,  and the Curried Crab Cake Benny sounds delicious!  I think the jury is still out on this one for us and we may have to go back for more Johnny Cakes and Mango Coconut Butter while we check out some of these other dishes!