Thursday, June 10, 2010

June 4th - the Reef - Disappointing re-Visit - No Plantain Blues :'^(

Cold Johnny Cake
The Reef is normally one of my favourite restaurants for casual dining here in Vancouver.  The food is normally high quality ingredients, authentic Jamaican and very tasty.  That was not my experience this Friday.  I have not been back for a while because recently Dad found a supermarket in Toronto that sells Ackee in tins and sent me a care package.  I scolded him of course because as thoughtful as it was to think of me and my ackee addiction, mailing heavy tins of food is not the best way for him to spend his money.  Anyhoo.  I have been making Ackee and Saltfish at home lately and have had the joy of controlling the amount of Ackee.  As I have said before, the great thing on other nights with the Reef is that they are not stingy about the amount of Ackee which is why I go.  I have written before that you do get more ackee on a middle of the week night because they are less busy with fewer people ordering the delicacy.

Seemed like a fair statement at the time but looking back it is a bit of a cop out.  A restaurant of any decent rating should be able to hold its own on any night and the busy weekend nights more than others!  I had been looking forward to the Reef for a couple of days.  D had been out of town for work and when he called ahead to see what I wanted to do for dinner, he already knew the answer.  There were two things on my mind for dinner, a nice helping of Ackee and fried Plantain.  On the drive up Main Street, we past the Ukranian Orthodox Church on 11th.  It dawned on us both simultaneously that it was the first Friday of the month and that mean Peroghy night!  We were a hair away from deciding to turn around for homemade Peroghy served in a Church Hall.  I wish we had. 

When we sat down, I noticed a sign over the till saying '3 Plantains left'.  I quickly waved to our waitress and tried to order Plantains (recall, it was one of the reasons for my wanting to go).  She said that note when up ages ago and they were already out.  She walked over to the mini-whiteboard and sadly, wiped of the note and replaced it with '86 the Plantains'.   EXCUSE ME?  Is this not a Jamaican restaurant?  It was Friday evening, still quite early and the sun was still out and they were out of Plantains! WTF? I was on the edge of my seat.  D, bless him, would have supported my wanted to change venues but I knew he was tired and hungry.

Weak Rum Punch
We started with a Pitcher of Rum Punch.  It was just the two of us and we did not so much as get a buzz on, though that was not the aim.  The Pitcher was a better offer than single drinks.  But the jug was nearly 2/3 full of ice as were the glasses they came with.  It was tasty but there was very little rum and way to much water by the end.  The ice in the photo is not floating.  That was the level of the ice as it came to the table.
We got their adored little Johnny cakes which they provide instead of bread.  It is a sort of sweet, doughy fried bread.  I remember it being called Festival bread when I was living there. Normally they are piping hot and you have to bounce them around as you try to spread the Coconut butter on.  Not tonight.  They were stone cold and rather small. 

We ordered Yardie Yam fries to start but really the mains are large enough to forego a starter and as there were no Plantains, I could have skipped it.  I wish we had.  I think there must be a new chef or something because there were a number of these disappointing changes.  The Yam Fries used to be lightly crispy and piping hot. These were skin-on, which on its own is not a bad thing, oily, too salty and SOGGY.  They were over cooked and so it was basically chewy Yamskins.  Terrible. 

I ordered the Ackee of course.  The slaw was different too and gross.  It was either the bottom of the batch or unable to decide if it wanted to be sauerkraut.  I left it.  The Ackee was lean and had been over worked.  The flesh of the Ackee is very delicate.  When you get it out of the tin or after steam fresh Ackee, it has the appearance of say, curled thumbs and the texture is like Fois Gras.  If you move or stir it too much it breaks down like when you use Egg Beaters and they start off looking like real scrambled eggs and end up looking like yellow baby food after it's been spit up.  There was a decent amount of Saltfish at least!

D ordered the Lime Coconut Chicken.  It was too sweet and D did not touch the stodgy mash.

All in all, a very very regrettable night at the Reef.  If this had been my first night there, I would never go back.  It's a shame.  It has been a while since I have been there for Brunch and they have a great Jamaican inspired Brunch menu and I was tempted to suggest going the next day but after that showing, I do not know when I'll go back.  If I do, I'll go on a Wednesday where the food might be better.

Soggy Oily Yardie Yam Fries
Mushy Ackee and Saltfish
(Photos were taken by iPhone. I was so hungry I forgot my Camera!)
The Reef
4172 Main St
Vancouver, BC V5V
(604) 874-5375

The Reef on Urbanspoon

(For the Mushy Ackee, Soggy Yam Fries and Plantain absentia :^( )

0 Leave a / Read COMMENTs: