Houston >Food & Dining > Reef
2600 Travis St, Houston, TX | Directions 7700629.745937 -95.375229
Mon-Thu 11am-10pm; Fri 11am-11pm; Sat 5pm-11pm
Neighborhoods: South Central, Midtown
Beautiful city lights, but the food is not quite there – Reef is situated on the site of what used to be a very unimpressive, dilapidated Vietnamese "pho" restaurant and the back of an old grocery store. The imagination and design genius of Reef's retro-chic interior is remarkable. Also worth noting is an impressive wine list at rock bottom restaurant prices. Definitely come here for drinks. But for dinner, I would think twice. We started with the softshell crab, a simple dish of batter fried softshell atop a bed of lightly pickled cabbage (very good). The shrimp appetizer with bacon sounded good but didn't quite find that sweet spot - the flavor was stunted somehow, as if it wanted to be right, but couldn't find the right note. The entrees, likewise, showed promise but lacked proper execution. The highly recommended seafood chowder, an american version of Bouillabaisse, turned out to be more of a bland seafood broth concoction and wholly disappointing. The scallops over polenta with mushroom sauce was a strange dish, not quite right. It was like eating bolognese sauce that needed meat (but was made with scallops instead). The highlight of our meal was our Camus Conundrum, value-priced and excellent as always, and the dessert, a light and airy panna cotta. Come for drinks, not dinner.
Disappointing – Don't waste your money. Below average.
They really let us down – My wife and I loved this place and have come to Reef for three of our past anniversaries. I used to recommend this restaurant to everyone. I say loved and used to because of our last experience there.
I booked a table for our anniversary, but they must have overlooked the note. I'm not the kind of person who gets too upset over simple mistakes--my wife waited tables from greasy spoons to fine dining--so I'm pretty lenient. We were given the check, and I realized that he didn't know it was our anniversary. When the waiter finally made eye contact (he had been at our table a total of 5 minutes the entire evening), I told him, and he said he would take care of it and be right back. Fifteen minutes pass...nothing. Now, we had already eaten our meal, payed, and were sitting at a dirty table. On my way from the restroom, I see our waiter yelling at the manager with his finger in his face holding our comped milkshakes (if you've been there you know what I'm talking about). I also see my wife sitting alone...how about less yelling, more bringing. At this point I'm feeling really uneasy about dealing with this person at all, so I walk to our table and ask my wife if she's ready to leave. On the way out of the dining room, the waiter looks at me, puts our shakes in the window, and storms off ...a final 'forget you!'. I tell the front desk person that this was a terrible night, and she says 'well the manager was coming to your table'. Was this 15 or 20 mintues ago? We then go to the valet, and I see the manager yelling at her instead of coming out to say sorry. I mean we're five feet away. It was so bad, that I booked another restaurant the next night and surprised my wife with a second anniversary dinner.
But the story doesn't end there. The bar ran my tab twice, so I called the manager the following day. I told him what had happened the previous night and he let me know he was the manager on duty. He said 'it was a Saturday night so he was a little busy which probably kept him from getting to our table in time'. He also told me that the waiter was indeed yelling at him because of the missed anniversary and that when they saw us walking out there was nothing they could do. I told him maybe you could have said you're sorry. He then apologized and said I hope you give Reef another chance. He also assured me that the charges would drop off in the next day or two, but to call back if they didn't.
Now I don't run a restaurant, but I want more of a gesture than 'give us another shot'. I just chose your restaurant for our anniversary so that you could make my wife feel like she was picked last for kickball. I also got to see people yelling at each other on my account which made me uneasy and frustrated. The manager could have offered me an appetizer, dessert...some kind of incentive to get me back through their doors. I don't need to save the money. I just want to feel comfortable coming back. Which, unfortunately, I don't. As a result, I won't be going back or recommending Reef to anyone.
Best Seafood Restaurant in Houston – Last night we celebrated our daughters 18th birthday at Reef. What a fabulous choice! We had the greatest waiter named Gil, nothing to much trouble, very informative and accomodating. The seafood was the best we have had since moving here 6 years ago. Reef will now be our favorite restaurant in Houston. Chef Caswell and his team are remarkable, and all of our courses were great. I genuinely recommend Reef to everyone who enjoys good, unique dining. WOW!
Either the Cook is Brain Dead or Incredibly Stubborn – Ok, so I order baked salmon well done thoroughly cooked because that is my perogative, right? Here it comes, test it and of course it's raw. Back it goes. 10 minutes pass and husband is almost done with his fish and the salmon reappears. Test it and still raw in the middle. WTF? Adios salmon this time with obigatory mumbled apologies, etc. 5 minutes and here again comes the salmon. No Mr. Waiter, don't leave until I test it. Uh oh, still at least half of the piece of fish is raw. Just bring the check. Not going back because this place sucks.
Reef-good food, not so good waiter – First visit to Reef. May or may not return. Food was good, but not necessarily memorable. We were hoping for that WOW factor. Might have been more excited about the place if not for the distracted hostess and our no personality waiter. We let him know it was our first visit, but there was no "welcome to Reef", nothing regarding the chef or restaurant concept. We are from the Kansas City area (now in West Houston) and are not wowed by a stint on Iron Chef since we have several James Beard nominees, and winners, and Iron Chef participants from which to choose. These restaurants also provide a friendly deference to diners that "elevate" their food and make the whole experience memorable. Chef Bryan needs to educate his staff, all of them. We may return, but unfortunately this will not be our "go to" place in Houston. The search continues.... doesn't need to be a fancy...just clean, good food (seasonal, local fare), and friendly. Julian, Julian where aren't thou?????
The Best Experience for My Birthday Milestone – This was my friends and my first visit to the Reef. The first impression I got of the place was how nice the members of the staff are. We were greeted by the Hostess and upon confirming our later reservation we opted to venture into the 3rd bar for a few minutes. The staff there just really made us feel comfortable as soon as we entered the door. We chose our seats at the bar so we could observe the activities behind the bar and the other patrons setting along the bar. Everyone was enjoying themselves, the staff was upbeat, and upon asking some of the patrons what they recommended, suggestions were readily offered. I decided on some drink I believe called a Blood Orange, man...so good. But I wouldn't want to drink many on an empty stomach. By friend wasn't as adventurous and decided upon a beer. We both decided upon a recommended Shrimp Shooter, a Reef version of a Shrimp cocktail. It was a very, very nice update on an old standby. After enjoying the huge shrimp, we drank the special marinade that was remaining. This appetizer is delicious to the very last drop.
After my other guests arrive we were seated at our table not far from a huge glass enclosed wine "cellar". A beautiful display of so many wines that not one wine connoisseur should leave displeased. A bar patron had told me that she had a couple of friends that visit the Reef often because one of their favorite reds was actually cheaper here than at a popular local retailer. The decor was just as I had expected, not prissy, not a diner, just perfect for this restaurant. From the moment we sat down we had a gentleman coming around often to refill our beverages and we never, ever, ran dry. Running out of tea, water, coffee, or whatever is a pet peeve with me at any restaurant and they've got this art nailed. Our waiter introduced himself, Rich, a handsome clean-cut polite young man and who quickly proved himself knowledgeable of the menu choices along with the wines available. Through Rich’s guidance, for appetizers, two of us settled on the Kinilaw, which is Ceviche with Blue Crab, Orange, and a Coco-Lime broth, another guest chose the steamed mussels (mussels in Shiner Bock and Toasted Ancho), one of my friend's favorites and in which he just raved about upon his very first bite. When this big bowl of huge mussels resting in this wonderful smelling juice arrived, we knew it was going to be a hit with him (his first comment was “Oh my I didn’t realize it was going to be so much”. I must say a unanimous vote from all of us about the flavor since we had to all have one. They were by far the most delicious I've ever eaten. And of course we had to dip a piece of the accompanying toast in the juice, heaven. The fourth guest loves beef so Rich suggested he choose the Sliders with caramelized onions and which comes with a house-prepared spread. These were so delicious and the home-made spread needs to be bottled for sale. We could have ordered double appetizers and been very well fed for the evening. Our entries of choice were, Redfish on the Half Shell, Grilled Amberjack and a Lemon Pepper Pasta with Shrimp. All were tasty to the very last morsel. I just can’t say enough about how pleased we were with our choices for the evening and how fortunate we were to have such a great waiter as well as the other staff members that made this 55th Birthday meal so memorable.
The Reef – We went there this past wknd for my wife's bday and we were not impressed. Since she is a seafood lover I thought this would satisfy her taste buds. Our service was ok...but took a long time for it to come.
The appetizers Calamari and Spring rolls were good, However, after waiting about 30 minutes after we placed our order I had to remind our waiter that we were hungry. He brought out the green salad and my wifes had little or no dressing. She said it ws dry and almost dirty. So we had to ask for a side of dressing.
She ordered the amber jack and I ordered the baked salmon. Her amber jack was ok but my salmon was undercooked. For the price and hype of this place we will not be back. Sorry Reef :(
Great Meal – Great Service and food. Crab Cakes were outstanding.
Great Lunch Menu! – I really enjoyed lunch at REEF. The decor is beautiful and the food was incredib;e. beware, the portions are large on Sanwiches, etc. The mussels were fatastic and the dessert was even better. Would definately go here again!
Reef--Service was terrible – My head waiter was asleep at the wheel. Totally missed the mark:
1.Took my son's order before waiting on my wife and daughter.
2. Finished our appetizer and dishes stayed on the table for an extended length of time.
3. Had to waive for attention and order a new drink.
4. Brought the wrong drink and I was the only one ordering.
5. Still eating and bumped my arm to get his fork down for the entree.
6. Served from the right, left, it didn't manner which side.
7. Waved to get attention for the check
8. Brought another tables check to me the first time.
This all happened for a 4 top ordering simple food with a $125 tab, the service was terrible, terrible.
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