Steak, seafood hot spot washes ashoreCover Story Features
May 6, 2018
Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
Last October, The Reef Bar & Market Grill at Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort opened in the space that had been occupied for 38 years by Shore Bird Restaurant and Beach Bar. As Outrigger Hotels and Resorts marks its 70th anniversary this year, the new restaurant offers a taste of how the popular local brand is looking ahead to its exciting future.
If you were a devoted fan of Shore Bird, you’ll be elated to hear that some of your favorite features have been enhanced and expanded at The Reef — and there are a few new surprises, too.
With a fresh new look by Roger Dean Gagon of Maui’s Island Design Center, the restaurant’s bright color palette echoes the hues of the ocean just outside. The graceful old paddle ceiling fans have been modernized, but they still evoke a sultry tropical day.
“And we reimagined our buffet areas, and added the butcher shop,” says John Shelton, director of food and beverage for the Outrigger Waikiki and the Outrigger Reef. “It’s now a more farm-to-surf style.”
The butcher shop’s display case holds the finest steaks, chops, kebabs and filets, all presented on handcrafted planks by artist Michael Olsen. “Guests can choose their own steak out of the case. The butcher seasons it for them, and they can choose their own rub,” explains Shelton, adding that guests are invited to cook their own steaks on the open-air grill. “That’s a concept we embraced from Shore Bird, but we took it to the next level. We’re sourcing the freshest ingredients around local items and seafood. We do all our own rubs and grind our own spices and fresh herbs. We’re focusing on cooking techniques and recipes for our rubs and sauces.”
One of The Reef’s featured plates this week beautifully showcases those recipes. Ribeye Steak ($42) is first seasoned with a mocha rub and finished with a tangy steak sauce, both house-made. From the bar menu, Shelton recommends Flat Stack Steak & Shrimp Nachos ($24), with black bean hummus, salsa, guacamole, pico de gallo and a tasty lime crema.
If you’re in the mood for flavors from the sea, the Reef offers a delicious option. “We do an amazing Cold Seafood Tower ($65) with local and Pacific seafood!” says Shelton. With king crab legs, oysters, shrimp, octopus, poke, fennel tartar sauce, chili water and ginger mignonette, the tower, built tableside, is impressively gorgeous.
Should you visit The Reef for lunch, try the Crab Cake BLT ($24) with toasted sourdough, vine-ripened tomato, fennel tartar sauce, crisp bacon and Baby Gem lettuce. And for a delicious local-kine dessert, opt for Haupia Flan ($10) topped with a pineapple lime relish that is simply ono.
The Reef Bar hosts two happy hours each day — the first from 2 to 5 p.m. and the second from 10 p.m. to midnight. Guests can enjoy $6 mai tais, $5 draft beers and house wine by the glass, and a kamaaina discount of 15 percent on full-price menu items. Starting this month, The Reef will feature its own bespoke beer. Brewed by Honolulu Beer Works, the cream ale features a flavor profile developed in-house by the staff at The Reef.
FIRE IT UP
From The Reef Bar & Market Grill’s own grillmaster Joey Madeira, here are a few tips for perfection at your next barbecue:
• Temper the steak before cooking! Remove it from the fridge and let it come to room temperature before throwing on the hot grill.
• Flipping steaks over and over doesn’t allow them to cook efficiently. Season your grill with a little oil; place steak and allow it to cook, then rotate it about 90 degrees for beautiful grill marks. Flip steak, let it cook and give it another quarter turn. Remove and let it rest.
• Have a squirt bottle handy for flareups. Great marbled steaks, like those at The Reef, have a good amount of flavorful fat. When the fat melts and hits the flames it can flare up, which creates bitter soot. A quick squirt of water to douse the flare-up keeps the flavor quality of the steak.