What does it take to be a hipster? Must one deviate from the mainstream, listen to 100.5 The Peak, invest in a new piece of eyeglass regardless of its necessity, or throw on a flannel shirt? Apparently, where you choose to dine is also a crucial factor, which TamTam took into account on his eternal quest to achieve “hipsterdom.” Thus, TamTam, a friend and I made our way over to The Reef on Main Street to partake in some Carribean hipster delights. Yeah, man.
Typical for a Carribean restaurant, the walls are painted with bright colours and adorned with pictures of palm trees and abstract artwork. The mood here is undoubtedly casual, so yes, you can wear your skinny black jeans to dinner here and Aldo shoes to dinner here. It is quite dim inside, which makes for some beautiful photography of the food – stunning, in fact.
They started us off with a complimentary bucket of bread balls with mango butter to spread. Warm, sweet and fluffy, this deviation from the standard “hard bread and cold butter” appetizer found in other restaurants was favourable. The mango butter was also quite decadent, although you could definitely eat the bread balls by themselves if you so incline.
I had to drive, so I settled on the homemade ginger beer ($3.50). Apparently the enjoyment of this drink depends on one’s individual preferences: some love it, others don’t. As a general fan of ginger, I did enjoy this: the ginger taste was quite strong, with a little hint of sweetness. It was quite fizzy, however. I could see how this might not be everyone, but just remember: ginger beer has a soul, too.
The friend had already eaten dinner, so she only ordered some island crab cakes ($9), curry-scented crab cakes with a lime chili aioli. She seemed to think that these were alright. The cake by itself had a hint of spiciness from the curry but was not overly flavourful. The menu does list these as ocean-wise, though, which is always good. Hey Ocean!, yay ocean!
TamTam opted for the island thyme chicken ($15), described from the menu as coconut milk marinated chicken slow-cooked in Jamaican thyme and served with mashed potatoes and local vegetables. He thought the dish was quite yummy and did not disappoint. The chicken was tender and cooked quite well.
Honestly, when I think Carribean food, the first thing that comes to mind would be jerk chicken. Their menu describes jerk as meats marinated for 24 hours with some further additions to make it their “signature jerk sauce.” Righteous process, yo. I ordered the jerk chicken breast, bone in ($14). Apparently, I was so, so excited that I decided to use flash. Like with the thyme chicken, the slow-roasting process also came through here: the meat was tender and clearly prepared quite well. The all-important sauce, however, left a little something to be desired. I found it to be a little on the light side. and would have preferred a bit more of a “tang” in it. Having the bone in was also a little irksome, although the breast they gave me was quite large. Aw, yeah. The rice and coleslaw on the side were also a little lacking in flavour, but they were sides, so I was like, whatev, man.
As I left the restaurant, I formulated my opinion on The Reef: something with a bit of hype, but nothing over the top and phenomenal. That said, have I ever been to a Carribean country? Why yes, I have: I went to Cuba a few years ago, where I partook upon sweet potato fries and spam meat steaks every other day (don’t hate, they were pretty flavourful). Could I name any other Carribean restaurants in Vancouver? Have I had jerk chicken like mama used to make it? No and no, so maybe I’m not the best judge of this type of cuisine. Overall, I wouldn’t object to coming back for drinks,
to gain some hipster points or a casual meal (ie. bread balls), but I had hoped that the food would transport me to a sunny beach with a bottle of Corona in my hand. Ya, man.
Conclusion: Andy ate a fair amount.
The Reef (Main)
4172 Main St.