The Reef

October 20, 2010
I had dinner tonight at The Reef, a restaurant that serves Caribbean cuisine. It's funny that I've been to the Caribbean twice, but have never eaten at a Caribbean restaurant. Anyway after we ordered our food, the waitress gave us complimentary johnnycakes with a scoop of mango butter. These johnnycakes were puffy like small fried buns. Their texture was similar to donuts except they were salty instead of sweet. The mango butter was amazing. It was soft and creamy with just a faint hint of tropical flavour.

I ordered plantain chips ($6) because not a lot of places offer them. They're very tasty, and much more interesting than yam fries. The thinner ones were crispy, while the thicker ones were still slightly soft on the inside. I liked both textures, but I think the thicker ones had more flavour to them.

We had a West Indian goat curry ($10) which was very similar to Indian curry. The curry sauce was a dark brown colour, and was not as aromatic as Thai/Malaysian curries with coconut milk. I didn't like the taste much, and there was only 1 piece of goat... The rest were potatoes. The dish came with coleslaw, rice, and 2 sauces. The coleslaw was very bland, and the curry didn't have a lot of flavour despite being rather spicy. I wouldn't recommend this dish.

We tried the island thyme chicken ($15) due to the waitress's recommendation. The chicken was marinated in coconut milk and slow cooked in Jamaican thyme, then served with mashed potatoes and vegetables. This was not bad, as the chicken was tender and not overcooked. The vegetables were fresh and well seasoned.

Then our organic exotic greens salad ($9) arrived. It consisted of tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, corn, grapes, and toasted pumpkin seeds in a mint and mango dressing. It was refreshing, and the grapes added a sweet juiciness while the toasted pumpkin seeds added a savoury crunchiness.

Next was the Trini vegetarian roti ($9). When they say vegetarian, they mean potatoes. The filling was composed almost entirely of potatoes, and the roti itself was very tough and hard to bite through. The dish was served with the same bland coleslaw as in the curry dish. I would not recommend this dish unless you're in love with potatoes and bland coleslaw.

We decided to try the sweet dessert tacos for $1 each. There were 3 flavours: chili chocolate, mango and vanilla. We got chili chocolate and mango. The dessert was a small fried taco shell with flavoured cream filling, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and served with dollops of whipped cream. The mango cream was a bit too liquidy, and the flavour was not as strong as I'd expected. The chili chocolate cream had a better consistency like a chocolate mousse. The chili flavour wasn't too strong, and I didn't find the cream spicy at all. The chocolate tasted quite rich, and I liked it more than the mango one. But I found the tacos to be a bit too oily for a dessert.

Generally an average dining experience. One advantage of dining here is that prices are reasonable and portions are large. The highlights of the meal were the johnnycakes and the plantain chips. The rest of the dishes were rather average. I wouldn't return for a full meal, but I would be interested in getting drinks and ordering snacks like plantain chips to share.

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