Another epic fail. We were supposed to meet for dinner at Luda to find out it was closed on Tuesdays. Ai Yah! What to do? Viv suggested we head over to The Drive since you can basically walk down the street and take your pick from the eclectic mix of restaurants. Sure, why not... We ended up parking at the North end of The Drive near Sunrise Pizza. We ended up walking all the way to Marcello and all the way back finally deciding on The Reef. I've been to the Main Street location before and it was an okay experience. Some hits and some misses; but definitely different. Kim had only went there for brunch, so he was game for dinner this time around. Rich Guy was all for The Reef because he didn't seem all that impressed with Britannia Sushi next door. Yes, he is very adverse to places that don't seem decent. In fact, he rarely ventures into dives or hole-in-the-walls. I guess he avoids the show Triple D's as much as he avoids Whalley. Hey, I keep trying to talk him into it; but he refuses to cross the Patullo Bridge! Oh well, the life of Rich Guy...
As with any meal at The Reef, we were presented with their complimentary Johnny Cakes. These fried balls of goodness are like fritters with cornmeal. Well, they were crispy and warm on the inside. Spread with coconut butter -what's not to like? If that wasn't enough fried goodness, we shared an order of the Fried Plantains as well. Hey, they were sliced thin, crisp and went well with the jerk mayo. No complaints here either! Oh wait, the appies kept on going... We also got one each of the Beef Patty and Veggie Patty also. However, the beef patty arrived first while they had to redo the veggie patty. Apparently they overcooked that one. Maybe it is personal preference; but I found the pastry to be a bit doughy and hard. I much prefer the ones from the Patty Shop and Calypso which are more flaky and buttery. Moreover, the filling was very mild, bordering on bland. I would've prefer some spice. I did like the texture of the meat and potatoes though, it was smooth and not gritty. The veggie patty was spicier and the tofu filling was chewier.
For Viv's main dish, she went for the Calypso Oxtail. With a generous portion of moist oxtail, this was a hearty dish. It was made even heartier since we had 2 of them. No, we didn't order 2. Our server had accidentally entered 2 of them in place of my order. Thus, we got one of the oxtails for free. More oxtails for everyone! Too bad Viv thought it was salty. I could see that; but for me, that just meant flavourful (actually, when Viv ate the leftovers the next day, she didn't think it was that salty anymore). Really solid dish in my books; yet the rice could've been cooked a bit more, it was very firm.
Kim went for a dish I considered ordering; but since he got it, I didn't. No duplicates! The dish in question is the Jamaican national dish in the Ackee and Saltfish. Ackee is a fruit where only the yellow flesh on the inside is used for food.
It must be properly prepared or the existing toxins can cause vomiting and seizures. Good luck Kim! LOL... Anyways, the saltfish part of the dish is exactly that. Usually salted cod, the fish is preserved and then rehydrated before cooking. The result is a dish that blends the smooth mild-tasting ackee with the flavourful salt fish. Not for everyone, much like Chinese ham yew. For me, I thought this was a good version of the dish. Mind you, I've only had this once before, so don't listen to me... But honestly, it was balanced with sweet peppers and none too salty.
Rich Guy decided to try the Jerk Chicken and this time around, the meat was not overcooked as with the Main Street location. Despite being white meat, the chicken remained moist. As you can see, there was a good amount of jerk rub and sauce. However, if you didn't get any of it on your fork, the meat was a bit bland. Alright, after a short wait, I finally got the St. Bart's Lamb Shank. The highlight of this dish was the red coconut curry. Mildly spicy with an aromatic coconut kick, it not only completely flavoured the lamb, it made the mash potatoes better too. No sauce or gravy has ever made my mash potatoes sing like they did here. A really nice balanced curry with the right amount of spicy, sweet, savoury and smoothness. Imagine how much disappointment there was when I poked into the lamb and it was hard. Generally, a lamb shank will be soft and gelatinous. The meat here was dry and slightly chewy. Overcooked. If the lamb shank was cooked properly, this would be the most awesome dish. So sad really. But other than that, the meal as a whole was quite good and distinctive. In a culinary landscape which is overrepresented by Asian cuisine, it is very nice to have a meal that takes us to tropical place.
- Something different
- Pretty distinctive flavours
- Reasonable pricing for what you get
- Sure the chicken was moist, but the lamb shank was woefully overcooked (see Main Street location)
- A few mix-ups this time, to their credit, they made it right