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.

Should we ever crack the code to the secret of bending the space-time continuum such that the linear theory of time is rendered laughable, then "do-overs" will, too, become unnecessary. But for now, a do-over will have to do, and Reef got one with this reviewer. Three years ago, I reviewed Reef chiding that the eatery's identity crisis was too much for me to swallow, however the menu has become more cohesive over time.

Since its opening, Reef has been hit and miss for me. I've found the inconsistencies annoying—like a Mexican Lemonade so spicy one night that it threatens to light me up from the inside and the next time falls entirely flat. The service is fine enough when it's slow, but the waitstaff displays not a hint of grace when under fire. And despite one pitch-perfect dinner when the kitchen was helmed by Lisa Buck, the food has always been just ever so slightly off-key, which is almost inexplicable considering the rest of the Krick-owned compounds are so finely tuned.

Over the last few weeks, I've spent some time getting reacquainted with the place. A friend and I spent a late weekend night drinking on the rooftop with what I was told was the bar's usual crowd, a collection of people who could have been transported in its entirety from the University of Idaho Greek system. It was an experience I'm not eager to repeat at any point in the near future, but the bartenders did a fantastic job of keeping me happy. A few days later, the usual dining companion and I squeezed in an appetizer and a few cocktails during what must have been an unexpectedly busy happy hour. I watched three staff members struggle to keep up, eventually delivering to me a pan of nachos that had waited for an expediter so long under the heat lamp that the fresh tomatoes and jalapenos were little more than hot and shriveled skins.

In a final attempt, I dragged out some relatives for the third, final and most important size-up. An initial work-up of the menu revealed a few oddities—like the Argentine Cobb, which was apparently named for the South American country solely for the dish's use of skirt steak, as little about it brings to mind Argentine cuisine (and nothing about Argentina fits Reef's tropical theme); and the Bali Phad Thai, a dish that's hardly representative of food found on the Indonesian island after which it's named. Semantics and geography aside, the menu is still a globetrotter, but one mostly confined oceanside. Choices like Hawaiian Kalua pig, coconut rice and even ton-katsu (of Japanese origin but hugely popular in the 50th state) invoke the tastes of tropic-esque cuisine.

The plate of Chicken Meinuu Lettuce Wraps ($8.75) was an uninspiring start to our meal that tasted as though it relied too heavily on the wonders of shoyu to reinvigorate what was either pre-frozen or par-sauteed veggies and chicken stuffing. After striking out with my first and second choices (sugarcane ahi and Kalua pork were both out of stock), I settled for two tacos and Voodoo fries ($8.75). A single delicate sprig of cilantro atop each taco provided the double corn tortilla-wrapped Mexican sandwiches a needed boost in a sea of mild flavor. And shame on me for thinking fries—Voodoo or not—could have been a suitable side to tacos. My dining companions were relieved to see their once-favorite rib-eye still on the menu—sort of. The spicy rub they once loved on the thick cut of meat was no more, but that was a minor gripe overshadowed by the resounding disappointment of the accompanying cut Yukon gold potatoes, which were too oily and too bland for everyone at the table. And, in an attempt to allow the kitchen to rectify the front-of-the-house's nacho plate neglect several weeks prior, we ordered a plate of chicken nachos and a side of guacamole. Fresh out of the window (thanks to Jason for stellar service), the nachos redeemed themselves and the guac was far better than the pico we'd first tried.

Maybe now that Reef's bar reputation is firmly intact, its food identity means little. For now, the better part of the eatery's reputation is certainly heading into the direction of music and late-night fun.

—Rachael Daigle wants a copy of Reef's Duke Kahanamoku photo.

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