Food & Drink » Food Review

Reef

105 S. Sixth St., 208-287-9200. Mon.–Thur, 11 a.m.–10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Sun., noon-10 p.m.

by

Reef claims to be an exotic place of forbidden drink, fine food and enchanted sounds. Their decor is distinctly tropical, featuring thatch, tikis and other cool beach decor. In the Polynesian cultures of the South Pacific, "tiki" is a term that describes "large humanoid carvings that often serve to mark the boundaries of sacred or significant sites." I stopped at Reef for lunch one weekday with Dave, a co-worker, on what was probably one of the last sunny days of the year.

I ordered the "Drunk'n Turkey Buccaneer" sandwich and selected curry rice as the side ($8.75). Dave ordered "The Duke" hamburger with Voodoo fries ($9.50). When our food was delivered, I noticed that I had a salad instead of the curry rice. I had thought about a side salad, so only hesitated a moment before diving in, thinking maybe our waitress was a mind reader. After a few bites, I picked up the sandwich only to find ham inside and not turkey. Oops. I was obviously eating someone else's meal. About that time, our waitress noticed the same thing and brought my original order. She donated the other plate to us. So, we also got to taste a smoked ham and Gruyere sandwich ($8.50).

I really enjoyed the turkey sandwich: rum-marinated turkey breast, apricot aioli, Swiss cheese and more on grilled sourdough. The curry rice was white rice covered with a white sauce. I had never had "white curry" before, but it was delicious. Dave rated his own burger —topped with Gruyere and cheddar cheese, fire-roasted tomato and pepper bacon on a challah bun—as "very good" and thought the Voodoo fries—fries with a chili powder-based coating—were also quite good.

A couple of weeks later, my friend Rich and I lunched at Reef. It was a cold, cloudy, rainy day that made me glad I'd taken the opportunity to eat outside the last time. If my earlier visit was on one of the last days of summer, this was clearly one of the first days of winter.

Even without the upstairs deck as an option, we had our choice of the curved bar facing Reef's stage, a surfboard-shaped table surrounded by barstools made of tonga drums or conventional booths. We chose a booth.

I ordered "Honu Lettuce Wraps" ($9.50). These are "make your own" wraps with coconut-crusted chicken breast, a mango and pineapple salsa, and rice sticks with butter leaf lettuce leaves to wrap it all up in with a side of sweet chili sauce for dipping. After conferring with the waitress, Rich ordered the "Mushroom Zucchinimon" with fries ($8.25). The Zucchinimon is a beautiful sandwich of smoked zucchini, grilled portobello mushroom, onion, Swiss cheese, cumin aioli and fire-roasted tomato served on a house-made flatbread.

Rich liked his distinctive sandwich. My wraps were messy. Without the salsa and the dipping sauce, they were a bit bland. However, the salsa and sweet chili sauce added significantly to the flavor.

Some of what's on Reef's dinner menu depends on what's fresh and in season. The Reef hosts special events, too. Every Wednesday night from 6 to 7 p.m. during Boise State football season, Reef hosts Coach Chris Peterson and his weekly game preview show. Sunny or rainy, lunch or dinner, special event or not, Reef has a warm ambience and sunny flavor of the South Pacific that you can appreciate all year round.

—Curt Nichols can barely tell the difference between tiki and tacky.