Thursday, April 17, 2014

Restaurant Review: Reef

Growing up on Long Island, I had some of the best seafood anywhere. I eventually came to just take it for granted, I guess. I eventually assumed they had great fish and seafood everywhere. And, of course, I couldn't have been more wrong.

So priding myself on knowing good seafood and fish, I recently visited our newest restaurant, Reef. Reef recently opened in the space formerly occupied by the Network Cafe, just across from the much-loved Irish Cottage on 72nd Ave., off of Austin.

I'll cut right to the chase here, since I know that many readers are probably juggling holiday plans and work during this busy week: my first experience at Reef could not have been better. I thoroughly enjoyed it, from the modern rustic decor (heavy use of wood all around), to the unbelievable attentiveness and friendliness of the staff, to the simple yet succulent dishes, and to the overall feel of the space - somehow it's both cozy and roomy at the same time. I especially loved eating in the lower level of Reef, there's something extra cozy about it. I look forward to dining down there on a cold winter evening when it's snowing out. (Next year, please no more snow this year Snow Gods.)

Our meal began with warm rolls with a humus spread which came with the meal, and were both great. Then we ordered the baked clams. These were very nicely flavored and reminded me of the types of clams I had in many of the fine seafood restaurants on Long Island. The main courses were the Grilled Shrimp (halved, grilled in shell $21.00) and the Salmon Steak ($20). We both had rice as sides, from a choice that included a variety of potatoes and vegetables.

I absolutely loved my salmon, and salmon has never been one of my favorite dishes. I actually said this was quite possibly the best grilled salmon I had ever tasted. The rice, simple with the subtle flavors of olive oil and lemon, had my taste buds dancing for joy. The Grilled Shrimp was a bit of a learning experience. It tasted great, but I had never had shrimp served in the shell like that (see photo below) in all my years of eating and devouring every kind of shrimp imaginable. My personal feeling is, I'd rather not have my food resemble how it looked while alive :) This was too close for comfort. It's one of the reasons I have even drifted away from eating whole lobsters these days. Maybe it's just a phase. But whatever it is, that's just me. If that kind of thing doesn't bother you, you'll love their Grilled Shrimp dish.

Speaking of lobsters, you may notice they are missing from the menu. I was able to chat with one of the managers and she said they are definitely planning to expand their menu big-time, taking suggestions from customers, and lobsters are in the planning.

The one disappointment in my Reef experience came at the very, very end when I got a cup of coffee. It came luke-warm. But hey, I'm willing to forgive since they've only been open a little more than a week and I could tell were all so dedicated to working out every little kink in this fine restaurant.

What happened to Forest Hills? From a sad, even pathetic restaurant scene, there are suddenly too many excellent places to choose from! My brother, who lives on the Upper East Side, was lamenting to me the other day that he doesn't have any good restaurants nearby. I could only reply, "That's weird." I thought about it, and I realized he was right - I couldn't think of any good restaurants near him, in one of the toniest parts of Manhattan. Well, at least he has Central Park.

My grade for Reef: A+ (I think the highest I have ever given to a new restaurant in Forest Hills, at least that I can remember).


  1. I'm really excited to dine there! Thanks for the article. I did check out the lower level before it officially opened and must say I was a fan of the Network Cafe's couches and hidden bar. I was hoping Reef would replicate that because we have no cool hotspots in the area that offer a loungier vibe as you might see on the LES, but can't have it all. ;)

  2. Thanks for the review. Any idea where they get their fish from? Farmed or wild? Are the baked clams fresh or frozen?

  3. I agree with most of your review, however I just ate there about a week ago with a friend of mine and although both of us loved our entree's, she was disappointed with her appetizer (asparagus soup, also bland) and we both thought the bread was really bland and tasted like cardboard. Being a bread lover and understanding all the available choices in the New York City area from any number of great bakeries, this had to be one of the worst rolls I had ever tasted. The humus that was served with it was not memorable in the least. Would I go back? Yes, the decor was appealing and as I said before, the entree's were awesome ( I had the stuffed sole with crab meat and asparagus and she had the grilled squid and octopus) . The service was great too.

  4. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed your experience too. Even more than my wife and I, I dare say. I thought the clams were ok, really enjoyed that they were whole clams in them, not chopped in a breading as some place do. Also, I like getting whole fish or shrimp as it were although my trip last week I had a swordfish steak. My wife had the whole fish. It's very reminiscent of the Greek restaurants we ate in in Greece (well the ones that had fish, which were few and far between). Excited to read they're expanding their seafood options to include lobster. Another reason to go back.

  5. Great review! I'm glad to hear they're flexible when it comes to future menu additions. With any luck, they'll add shrimp cocktails to the appetizer section one of these days; I think that'll be the key to convincing my 12 year old to go there with us! Ah, the joys of raising a picky eater. :)

  6. I'm still hoping to hear whether or not any of the seafood entree's are wild caught? I don't eat farmed fish, so I'm hoping someone responds soon.

  7. I ate there recently and loved it. Had the grilled shrimp that were huge and served like mini-lobsters. Greek-owned, this new addition makes me miss Astoria less. Thumbs up!

  8. My husband and I ate there over the weekend. We have lived in FH for decades and cannot believe there could be another great restaurant in the neighborhood. Reef's food is great and so is the service. Very accommodating and friendly. Warm and cozy environment. I highly recommend it.

  9. We ate there over Easter weekend. It was not crowded and didn t have to wait for a table.
    Food was a little different that we usually eat but we enjoyed it and the atmosphere.
    Will go there again.