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: Midtown, South Central
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.
Spectacular, talented chef – great treat, this chef knows what he's doing. such a great mix of flavors. grouper, oysters, ceviche, snapper, it was all amazing.
The best seafood known to mankind – Ok I went thinking surley this isn't as good as my friends and the reviews say, and I was half right, it was actually better!!! I don't think it's possible to try a bad dish, however try the crispy skin snapper and you won't be disappointed. The wait staff, the food, the decor... super awesome.
Reef is NOT So All That – After reading accolades about this restaurant, we chose Reef for a special celebration. The meals at our table were just plain bad all the way around. Around the whole table. Yes, really. The whole table. Bland, tasteless, undercooked, overcooked. You name it and it went wrong. Not one decent meal at the whole table. To add bad to worse, service was lacking. The staff was green, unenthusiastic and not knowledgeable at all. We were dumbfounded....How did this place ever get written up at all? Complaints to management were brushed off with what appeared a very practiced and detached response. "Sorry. We'll try better next time. Come try us again. Thanks." At this price point, we were jaw-droppingly amazed all the way around. Despite all the rah-rah and previous write-ups out there, Reef is NOT so all that in our book. Gee. Sorry. Thanks. We'll pass.
among the best in houston – The food varies somewhat from visit to visit, but it's always pretty good. The restaurant is among the best in Houston, whatever that means. But man is this place loud. And for some reason it seems to attract lots and lots of obnoxious people (not sure how it lured me, though). The men talk loudly and look like they butter their heads. The women cackle and wear dresses two sizes too small. The crowd has all of the alleged vices of Dallasites but none of the virtues. I could do without about 90% of them.
Reef has lost its' lustre - Once a diamond now a Rhinestone – My first few visits there were very good, that is why I went back. On a recent trip in early October with a few friends to celebrate our birthdays we were all very disappointed with the food and the service.
When I contacted the management to give them details of all that went wrong they offered many excuses, but did nothing to convince me that I should return to Reef or any of the restauants they are now building. They simply said sorry you and your guest were very disappointed with our food and service, perhaps if you come back we can hopefully do better. This kind of response can not be excused and l will never return to Reef, not even if they offered a free meal.
I do not recommend this place to anyone wanting a good meal and a pleasant experience. We are very fortunate to have so many great restaurants in Houston and do not have to put up with the poor food and service at Reef and most importantly the porr attitude of the management.
Not so special – I’ve wanted to try this place since seeing the fabulous write up in Food & Wine Magazine as an up and coming chef. I had such high hope of putting Houston on the map as a culinary center and higher expectations about the cuisine since many of my friends raved about the place and food. So what went well… I like the décor, the wait staff and wine selections. The crab & shrimp shooters were unique and surprisingly very good. The milkshake was fantastic. The sweet potato & bacon ravioli was tastefully interesting. I wish I had ordered the brandy sauce on the side because it overpowered the main flavors of the dish. The not so well… The main entrees left me with a sour taste for this place. The grouper was overcooked to a point of rubbery, not good. The seafood pot contained bad tasting shrimp (strong ammonia flavor & aroma) and penny size mussels not worth the trouble to eat much less not being cleaned well enough to be served because the bottom of the bowl was sandy making the tasty broth gritty at best. When I explained all this to our waitress, she politely apologized; which is what she was trained to do. She even commented on the strong smell of the shrimp, that I set aside on the bread plate to validate my point by not eating. I’m into service recovery when experiences are below standards. My experience was clearly below quality standards. I don’t look for a free meal, just something to get me to come back and try it again. Even great chefs have bad days. Let’s just say I won’t be back to the Reef restaurant any time soon and I won’t recommend it to any of my friends, family and colleagues. Which is a shame because I had such high hopes…
Fresh Seafood – I had been wanting to try Reef since hearing it had opened two years ago. It sparked my memory seeing it listed on MSN as one of the Top 10 Seafood Restaurants in the US and on the Food in Houston Blog. Thankfully we managed to get a table early as the restaurant has quickly booked up after such rave reviews. The menu changes daily based upon the selection of fresh fish that is available in the Gulf. Chef Bryan Caswell has established a very creative and flavorful menu with some fish I have never even heard of! I tried the amberjack with plantains and green beans and my husband tried the grouper over collard greens. The plantains paired with the green beans was such an unusual combination and yet somehow it worked. The two juxtaposing textures and flavors actually complimented each other and brought out so much more flavor in the fish! The grouper and collard greens were also just as delicious. The collard greens were actually light, not too saturated and full of delicious bacon flavor! The wait staff, valet staff, and managers were funny, helpful and truly enhanced our evening. Overall I was incredibly impressed with Reef. The food is impeccable and I am excited to go back to another unique dinner!
Best Restaurant in Houston! – We've dined at the Reef many times and finally got around to a review. I guess writing reviews about places that you see room for improvement on, or negative experiences comes naturally. Conversely when you can't find anything that isn't best in class you don't think to write anything. Obviously an error to correct on our part!
The food is always fresh and fantastic. We love the ecological slant that the Chef, Bryan Caswell has in using only ingredients that are sustainable and on target for the theme. This is one restaurant I find it hard to name a favorite as everything is great, but if I had to it would probably be the Red Fish on the half shell.
I have to do some bragging for the Reef as they would not do so themselves...the wine selection and prices are in my opinion the best in Houston, not to mention that Bill Floyd is one heck of a sommelier!
Service is top notch, and has a special twist where they keep track of who has waited on you so that you have the same waiter every time you make a reservation. Which is great as they get to know your tastes and recommend things that you might not normally try. David is top notch!
Overall this is the best high end seafood restaurant in Houston if not the best restaurant period.
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Never been treated so badly in a Houston Resturant – We have dined at this resturant once before and wanted to try it again. We made a reservatrion for 5 @ 6:30 on a Saturday night. We arrived on time and was seated at the worst table in the resturant and was told it was the most requested table. Hard to beleive considering we sat right at the service station, bathroom and kitchen doors. We had a friend from out of town and wanted to show her a cool hip place. Instead we were told that that was the best they could do and for lack of better terms we could just leave.
The owner was so pompas and rude that we were speechless. There are many great resturants in Houston that we will never go back or recommend.
loved it – Had the grilled redfish and seared tripletail and it was very good. My guests and I sampled almost every appetizer in their Rare section and each were unique in flavors and delicious. We needed some meat though and ordered the pork chop with the cherry mustard dipping sauce. It was amazing. And the molten chocolate cake we had for dessert really was to die for.
I'd avoid weekends and come in on a weeknight as we did. Since the restaurant wasn't completely packed, our servers were able to pamper us more and they certainly did. Everything was wonderful. As for prices- for all the things we orderd... lets just say that whoever thinks they're expensive obviously hasn't dined in Midtown very often. Or anywhere for that matter.
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