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Best Seafood Restaurant Houston 2009 - Reef



2600 Travis St.

Houston, TX 77006


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Readers' Choice: Reef

Bryan Caswell was named one of the 10 Best New Chefs in the country by Food & Wine Magazine this year. He owes much of that honor to the bounty of the Gulf of Mexico. Caswell is a fisherman, and he understands the treasures of the Gulf in a way that non-fishermen never quite get. His nickname on Twitter is "Wholefish," and that's also the name of his seafood encyclopedia of a blog. The name describes his culinary philosophy in one word — Caswell doesn't buy filets or fish steaks or anything that someone else has cut up; he buys whole fish. That's the only way to know exactly what you're getting, he says. At Reef, the menu takes advantage of what's available. Sure, there's shrimp, crab, oysters and red snapper. But there's also wahoo, tripletail, amberjack and sheepshead. These are fish that no one else in town is cooking, and at Reef, they are all presented in unexpectedly brilliant dishes.

My Voice Nation Help

I think Reef is exceptionally overrated for several reasons.

1. The food really isn't that good. The last time (and the LAST time) I ate there, virtually all of the seafood was prepared with a vinegary sauce that really detracted from the seafood. I also ordered a fish filet that was served virtually bare, overcooked and dry, and without a shred of sauce to complement its flavor. The food presentations are also unimaginative and dull.

2. The waitstaff is atrocious for a restaurant at this price point. As the other reviewer mentioned, the waitstaff is indeed clueless about the menu options. They are unable to explain the food beyond the information provided in the print menu.

3. The service is very slow. Too slow.

4. The layout of the restaurant is confusing and strange. It just doesn't have the proper flow or rhythm to it.

Ignore the hype. While others may be in love with Bryan Caswell, I think he is an overrated hack serving overpriced smack.


I've had very mixed experiences at Reef. At times the waitstaff is a bit too casual and clueless about the food. (Once we asked about a green apple slaw served with a ravioli, and the waitress could only tell us that it was made with green apples. DUH)

I'm not sure if I will return again, because I'm not sure if the meal will be incredible or regrettable. The last time I ate there I left furious about the price I paid for a very unsatisfactory experience.


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