Welcome to the Tiki Central 2.0 Beta. Read the announcement
Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

Tiki Central / Locating Tiki

The Reef, Boise, ID (restaurant)

Pages: 1 10 replies

Name:The Reef
Street:6th and Main

The Reef, a bar and restaurant, is located on the corner of 6th and Main in downtown Boise, Idaho.
The owner is Dave Crick (Spelling)?? He is also the owner of a piano bar called the Red Feather Lounge and Bitter Creek Ale House. Upon entering the ground floor stairwell, one is greeted by a large Hawaiian style tiki of faux stone/stone and a split bamboo pole interior with cork and hardwood flooring. The establishment is on the 2nd floor and peering upward, one sees a gigantic and beautiful blown art glass sculpture hanging down 30 feet or so from the upper story ceiling. It is in shades of ocean blue and bright organic, jellyfish like shapes form a huge tranluscent diorama. Now that you’ve ascended the stairs you notice the host podium is a split bamboo and formica home tiki bar. Gazing upward one sees humanoid stacked Melanesian figural poles at approximately 7 feet high which appear to be of Asmat region origin. Then behind these are 2 large Asmat region canoes with figures seated in them, one is quite large and probably 10 feet in length. There is a long bamboo and thatch roofed bar in the center of the main room. The ceiling of the restaurant is an exposed hard wood rafter roof. The Reef has bamboo pole walls, Indonesian masks, tropical plants and furniture of teak and other woods made specifically for the restaraunt in a village in Indonesia. There is a large well lit stage at one end of the great room and a semi enclosed area at the other. Many masks of Melanesian and ? origin greet the wandering eye along with wooden lizards and toucans. Outside there is a large round thatch and bamboo tiki hut over a large circular resin bar which is inlaid with seashells. The outdoor area overlooks a historic and scenic view of the city. The walls outside are of huge 12-15 foot whole bamboo poles and encircle a village of mini thatch tiki huts over tables that are reminiscent of the interior of San Fran’s Tonga Room. There is a single surfboard hanging from the wall. There are also many plants outside. There is a row of huge gas powered tiki torches on the outside wall facing the street.
The visual aspect of this restaurant is one which I would give an A-. It’s just not quite dense enough for the purist and could use a few additional Polynesian type pieces. The Indonesian masks I can take or leave and there is some exposed brick which is a bit out of place but actually works fairly well.
The cuisine is equatorial fusion. The chef is Argentinian and dishes are heavy on Cuban, Mexican and Latin American influences and far too short on Chinese American, pineapple pseudo poly pop pu-pu for any tiki old skool purist. This was only the lunch menu that I had a chance to peruse and sample so I’ll have to return later for a dinner review. The Banana wrapped pork pibil and other pork dishes are lunch favorites and combine Polynesian and Latin American influences. In short, the food was excellent but not old skool tiki. This did not bother me much as the interior more than made up for it. So too did the drinks, not a lot of precise old skool tiki drinks here but there were original recipies which were inspired by them. Case in point, the Lava Flow, which, like other drinks comes served in a gored out pineapple and is made like all of the Reef drinks with juice that is freshly pressed daily and sugar cane which is pressed every morning on location at the Reef. I believe this to be the only bar, anywhere, doing this with the sugar cane. My drink consisted of Rum, pineapple juice, Coco Lopez, fresh strawberry puree’ and was served in a pineapple and garnished with an orange wheel, cherry and an orchid. Many cool points for the drinks. If anyone is interested I can elaborate further on the alcoholic beverages but suffice it to say, presentation and taste were outstanding and many concoctions worthy of an old skool tiki imbiber’s pallette were available.

Alas, the music, Buffet, reggae, surf guitar and more Buffet. The other stuff I didn’t mind so much but 2 out of every 3 songs were Buffet. Hell, I wouldn’t even mind the Buffet much if it wasn’t the majority of the tuneage. In a welcome pamphlet, which very well could have been written by the Argentinian chef due to the extremely poor use of English, there was a lot of talk of trying to cast a spell like Martin Denny and quotes of Denny album titles. Only get this, they called him Denny Martin. So the guy’s not good with English and he gets this wrong too. My girlfriend said maybe they are going for pidgin, but if they were it didn’t come close. Anyways it seems like they were trying to get it right but are guilty of ignorance of tiki culture, namely cuisine and music. The Denny comment, however dyslexic, did give me hope of redemption. I plan to write a complimentary letter to the owners and managers and politically slip in a few reminders of proper or traditional tiki tunes and say how wonderful it would be to hear those Denny records they spoke of so fondly. Perhaps I’ll request more poly-pu pu cuisine as well.

Lastly dessert, We split a dish calle “Dia El la Playa” (a day at the beach). It consisted of dots of curry on the plate surrounding starfish shaped nougat and a meringue starfish that were living on coral made of fresh frozen prickly pear sorbet and mexican chocolate. When I ate this there was a whole party of tropical fruit flavors in my mouth. It was like Skittles were supposed to be and yet never were.
So all in all not a purist paradise, but definitely worthy of a visit for anyone interested in tiki décor, architecture and drinks.

I've been back to the Reef for dinner since my last posting and had a Mai Tai in a pineapple made with 18 yr. Appleton estate rum and this time the atmosphere was AWESOME!! There was a Polynesian group playing guitar and ukulele to old hawaiian standards and there were male and female vocalists and plenty of women and little girl dancers. Most of the Polynesian community in town seemed to be there and we had the front center table against the stage. This time I took many pictures of the canoes hanging from the ceiling, outside huts and lit torches etc... I'll be posting these soon.

[ Edited by: Sneakytiki on 2004-07-23 13:15 ]

Edited by Sabu to add City, State, to subject line

[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy on 2004-07-26 11:19 ]

While unfortunate circumstances took me to Boise (a memorial service for a friend), I was delighted to stumble upon The Reef -- particularly after my friend downplayed it as "a little bit tiki."

Thanks for the fine review, Sneakytiki (I'm glad I searched before posting an inferior one.) I was there the afternoon of Friday 7/23, possibly quite close to your second trip there? On my next trip to Boise (where my parents reside and I grew up), I must make it to The Reef rooftop at night, with the tiki torches burning and mai tais flowing.


No TIKI in Idaho, indeed!

I spent the weekend in Boise for a wedding and was lucky enough to duck out long enough to snap some terrible blurry pictures of The Reef.

The Greeter. Yes, a tiki. The only one I spotted in my whirlwind photoshoot.

The bar. Blurry, yes. Very sorry.

The bar outside. Still blurry. Pretend you've had six mai-tais.

Way cool drum barstools around a surfboard shaped table. Also. Blurry.

Behind the bar.

Very cool looking place. I couldn't stay for a drink. They were very nice about my geeking all over their bar with my worse-than-the-one-in-your-cel-phone digital camera. Tried to go back later, but there was a band and a $5 cover and a zillion $#%^@&^%#%#[email protected] college kids with their fitted ballcaps on backwards and girls trying to look like Paris Hilton even though they had doughy midsections crowding the streets because BSU had just won DA BIG GAME or some such revelry. But I'd recommend a stop at the Reef for any tikiphile in the vicinity...



*On 2005-10-19 13:42, Rum Demon wrote:*Tried to go back later, but there was a band and a $5 cover and a zillion $#%^@&^%#%#[email protected] college kids with their fitted ballcaps on backwards and girls trying to look like Paris Hilton even though they had doughy midsections crowding the streets because BSU had just won DA BIG GAME or some such revelry.

Hilarious! When are backwards baseball caps and bare midriffs going to become passe? The sooner the better!

Thanks for sharing the pics.

[ Edited by: thejab 2005-10-19 14:17 ]


On 2005-10-19 14:17, thejab wrote:

*On 2005-10-19 13:42, Rum Demon wrote:*Tried to go back later, but there was a band and a $5 cover and a zillion $#%^@&^%#%#[email protected] college kids with their fitted ballcaps on backwards and girls trying to look like Paris Hilton .

Hilarious! When are backwards baseball caps and bare midriffs going to become passe? The sooner the better!

If I combined those two concepts that would've been great for MY Hooptylau outfit!!! Darn!

Went to a Dick Dale concert at the Reef awhile back, got my CD signed and ears shredded. The man rox!!!!!!

[ Edited by: Sneakytiki 2006-03-29 11:22 ]


Found this article in today's Idaho Stateman - a nice review of the Reef.


"...garnished with leafy foliage..." Ha ha, so much for appreciating fresh mint in your cocktail!
"Hey, waiter, there is a palmtree in my drink!" :)

I was going to post an update to this thread since the new chef took over and some changes have been made. I think someone also took notice of my Jimmy Buffet complaints... ahhhhhhh.
However, I'll just post a copy paste of the Statesman review above, as it is better written than what I'd come up with (except for as bigbro points out "leafy foliage" WHO does restaraunt/bar reviews and doesn't know what a mint sprig looks like?). Thanks for posting the review link!

Dining Review: Tiki exotica at the Reef
Krick and Bopp retool the menu
By James Patrick Kelly - Special to the Idaho Statesman
Edition Date: 04/20/07

Dave Krick is a man obsessed with Tiki culture.
Just one look around the Reef speaks in volume to his bent for all things Polynesian.

A large collection of campy Tiki mugs lines one wall, next to the leaf-thatched bar. Dark rattan furniture sits below an eclectic array of South Seas poster art and framed album covers. Tropical-influenced cocktails are served in stone-faced vessels, garnished with leafy foliage and edible flowers.

Diners also can watch "Gilligan's Island" reruns on overhead flatscreen televisions while they munch on ornately presented pupu platters delivered by friendly servers.

Everything about the Reef screams Tiki.

Tropicana has always been the design idea at this Downtown restaurant and bar, yet the cuisine has suffered an identity crisis since opening in 2004. The original menu was Nuevo Latino, meaning snapper ceviche and Brazilian meat skewers were menu mainstays. After that culinary concept was scrapped, the menu seemed to drift at sea for nearly two years until Krick teamed up with chef Andrae Bopp.

Krick, who also co-owns Red Feather Lounge, Bittercreek Alehouse and The Front Door Pizzeria, recently formed Flavor Inc. with Bopp, who now oversees the kitchens at the aforementioned places, including Bopp's namesake restaurant, Andrae's.

Fun Polynesian/Pan-Asian fare (think Trader Vic's) comprises most of the new menu.

A few of the former Latin standouts made the cut. Bopp calls the food tropical fusion. "Then the cuisine has no boundaries, as long as there are palm trees involved," he says with a guffaw.

The interior design was overhauled, as well. New Tiki-inspired light fixtures hang from the ceiling. Booths have replaced banquettes. A new velvet curtain drapes the stage.

Chef de cuisine Nathan Whitley, former Franco Latino sous chef and California Culinary Academy alumnus, recently was hired to help the kitchen find its sea legs.

The new-and-improved appetizer selection showcases South Seas-inspired offerings, such as Tahitian drumsticks ($7.25) and a pupu platter ($12.75/regular), a rustic wood tray filled with crunchy wonton purses (stuffed with creamed crab), coconut-crusted shrimp and saucy chicken skewers placed on a tiny hibachi-style grill.

Tahitian drumsticks (no chicken legs involved) are essentially fried spring rolls packed with herbaceous gulf shrimp and scallops, served with a vinegar-kicked red pepper dipping sauce. Other appetizers include a delicious crab cheesecake ($9) and Asiago-dusted calamari ($8); toothsome medallions of pan-seared Pacific squid steak coated with pungent golden cheese and topped with citrus beurre blanc and capers. This is a good dish in that fried cheese kind of way, but the profusion of salty ingredients nearly wipes out the oceanic flavor of the squid.

Ordering savory cheesecake gets you a creamy puck of red pepper-flecked Dungeness crabmeat (on a bed of field greens), crowned with oven-roasted tomatoes and sided with crunchy herbed crostini.

Reef makes one of the best seafood chowders ($4/cup) in town, mostly because it's buttery, not too thick, and pocked with discernable pieces of ahi, mahi mahi, salmon and red potatoes.

The dinner menu really shines with entrees like miso-glazed Alaskan sea bass ($17) and jerk chicken ($18), a holdout from the previous menu, and a tribute to late Boise restaurateur Phil Neville, who invented this version of the classic Jamaican dish.

Reef's jerk rendition — a half chicken brined and grilled, served with wasabi-accented mashed spuds — is tasty but lacks the expected fire of Scotch bonnet peppers, not to mention a crunchy exterior.

A fillet of black sea bass gets pan-seared and glazed with earthy miso (until the skin becomes crispy), then it's perched on a mound of garlicky fried black rice.

Watch for the nightly specials, and you might find one staring back, as was the case when we ordered tiger fish ($22/freshwater species from New Zealand).

Out came an entire fish — blistered in peanut oil — next to a tangle of julienne red onion, cilantro and bean sprouts and dark ponzu sauce. Crisp Bibb leaves also were there for wrapping the pulled white fish.

I was surprised by the lack of pork dishes on the dinner menu. Hawaiian-style Kahlua pork sure would be nice.

James Patrick Kelly is the Idaho Statesman's restaurant critic. E-mail him at [email protected].

If you want to have a few drinks at The Reef, make sure to bring enough cash to tip your bartender for every drink or he will refuse to serve you.

The very first time, and LAST time, I had ever been to The Reef was for a party on August 25 to celebrate the marriage of a good friend of mine.

My husband and I live in Oregon and we frequently have “date-nights” away from our kids, where we visit nice, high-class restaurants and bars in down-town Portland. We will have to re-locate to Boise very soon, so my husband and I were excited to check-out some of the Boise hot-spots.

Upon arrival at The Reef, we loved the decor and atmosphere, it looked like a fun place, and it almost felt like we were right at home in down-town Portland. We met up with our friends on the outdoor deck upstairs and ordered drinks at the bar. I made sure to tip the female, brown-haired bartender that poured our drinks, she seemed very nice. We then joined the wedding party of about 15 people at our “reserved” table.

My husband and I waited for about 20 minutes, with a menu wide-open, for someone to take our order. No one even came to our table for drink service. So, my husband stopped a waitress as she passed by on her way pick up drinks at the bar for another table. He told her we wanted to order food.

“Our kitchen is closing, we stopped taking food orders ten minutes ago,” replied the waitress.

We were disappointed because our friends had told us The Reef serves good food. Although we were hungry, we decided to stick around since our purpose for being there was to visit with our friends and celebrate their marriage.
My husband went back up to the bar and ordered our second round of drinks from a male bartender (he was clean-shaved with short, spiky blond hair). My husband made sure to tip him.

A while later, I decided to buy one of their specialty two-person drinks for the new bride and groom to share. It was a $10 drink, so I grabbed a $20 bill from my husband and went up to the bar. The bar was extremely busy, so I patiently waited for service. Finally, the same male bartender who had served my husband earlier took my order.

The bartender gave me back a $10 bill so I didn't’t have any change for his tip. He went on to take a drink order from another customer, so I thought to myself, “I'll make sure we tip him double on the next round.”

I returned to the table and gave the bride and groom their drink. A few minutes later, my husband asked if I would get him a beer. So, I took the $10 bill the bartender had given me as change and I went back to order a beer.

The same male, blond-haired bartender who had been serving us was still busy, but I made a point to wait for him, so I could catch him up on the tip. I waited, and waited, and waited, for about 10 minutes. He looked at me several times and continued to take orders from other people and pour them drinks.

I finally leaned over the counter and politely said, “I know you’re really busy, but I have a quick, easy request for you; I only need one beer.”

He replied, “I’m done serving you, because you didn't’t tip”, and then turned and walked away from me.
Normally, I wouldn't’t blame an entire business establishment for one rude employee. So, I asked another employee, a very nice waitress, if I could see a manager.

The person who presented herself to me as the manager (she had blond hair, about shoulder-length) was even more rude to me than the bartender was. When I calmly tried to explain the situation to her, she refused to listen.

“He didn't’t say that, that didn't’t happen, I don’t believe you,” she said.

I said to her, “Ma’am, If you won’t listen to my complaint, then I need to speak to someone else. Who is your boss?”

At that point she proceeded to get in my face and told me, “I am the general manager, you can’t get any higher than me.”
Our entire party of 15 people left The Reef and none of us will ever return again - some of them used to be regular customers.

So, to The Reef management, I hope you take this review seriously because it’s a shame how easily a couple of rude employees can ruin your reputation and drive away regular, paying customers.

Cool tiki atmosphere does not make up for TERRIBLE SERVICE.

On 2007-04-24 19:42, bigbrotiki wrote:
"...garnished with leafy foliage..." Ha ha, so much for appreciating fresh mint in your cocktail!
"Hey, waiter, there is a palmtree in my drink!" :)

I think they were referring to the fresh orchids placed in some drinks, they probably didn't know what flower they were.

Pages: 1 10 replies