Expertly prepared seafood with Gulf Coast, Mediterranean and Asian influences reflects culinary sophistication never-before seen among Houston’s high-profile restaurant scene.
Chef Bryan Caswell, who grew up along coastal waters and sharpened his culinary skills in water-side hot spots from New York to Hong Kong and Barcelona to the Bahamas, pairs a passion for pristinely fresh fish with the rainbow of flavors and textures of locally grown produce. Coupled with Caswell’s Jean Georges-taught culinary savvy, the resulting oceanic menu is cleverly diverse.
Imagine such delectable dishes as salted slow-baked salmon atop lemon risotto, crispy-skin snapper garnished by sweet and sour chard, grilled scallops aside truffle
polenta and tempura batter-bronzed soft-shell crab enhanced with slightly sweet yet also sour vinaigrette. Venturing beyond traditional boundaries, less-known tilefish, triggerfish, wahoo, cobia and Rockport-caught tripletail are frequently showcased with savory brilliance. Serving as bookends to a memorable dining experience, the seasonal heirloom tomato salad or snapper carpaccio are excellent jump-starts, while the delicate pannecotta or over-the-top Vietnamese coffee tart provide heavenly conclusions.
Food and beverage director Bill Floyd, also a Jean Georges Vongerichten alumnus and REEF’s co-founder, maintains an exquisite selection of retail-priced wines. Looking for a treat beyond 1,500 hand-selected bottles? Options abound, from magnificent kumquat mojitos to the REEF lemonade, a vodka-based cocktail.
Complementing REEF’s global seafood flavors is its mesmerizing backdrop: 8,000 contemporary square feet accented with tranquil watery hues. A market-style fish room provides a sneak peek at the whirl of kitchen activity, and offers a front-row seat of Chef Caswell creating signature dishes.
And behold the dramatically up-lit masonry wave wall, wispy lighting, mother-of-pearlized tabletops, penny-tiled bar, glowing powder-coated steel wine shelves and the outdoor wrap-around patio. Balancing the present and past are the structure’s original concrete beams that once stood over a car dealership, Vietnamese mini-mall and noodle house.
REEF’s sexy cocktail bar, 3rd BAR — cleverly named for the third sand bar where sharks often lurk! — is a destination with a view. Oversized windows spotlight Houston’s downtown skyline, and 3RD BAR has quickly become a favorite spot for a quick lunch or socializing with friends. Here Chef Caswell serves oysters on the half shell, beef sliders with sriracha remoulade, spring roll shrimp with sweet and hot dip, and the 3rd BAR Plateau, a seafood grouping of all things salty and raw.
Whether drinks at the bar, dinner for two, private dining for 32 or a 75-person cocktail event, REEF ensures unmatched quality, superior service and can’t-wait-to-return dining experiences. Indeed, REEF offers a dining experience like no other. Prominently rooted in the heart of Houston’s vibrant midtown district and just minutes from downtown’s hustle and uptown’s shuffle, REEF is located at 2600 Travis at the corner of McGowen.
For more insight into the mind of Chef Bryan Caswell, read his blog: Whole Fish