The Refuge, Oxford Street, Manchester, M60 7HA – Visit Now
As doors across the country start to open again and we tentatively venture out into the world, the re-opening of The Refuge is just what we all need. True to its name, setting foot inside this Grade II listed behemoth feels like entering a place of shelter away from the hectic happenings around us every other minute.
Much like it’s Victorian abode, The Refuge is made of sturdier stuff and has withstood the trials of the time. Expect much of it to remain as you remember as The Refuge has adapted perfectly for the current situation and kept their usual chic style by sticking to their table service all around. As is becoming the norm, menus can now be found through QR codes on each socially distanced table and orders are taken from staff all face-masked up. You may also be thankful to know that dotted throughout the space you will also find automatic dispensers of currently invaluable hand sanitiser.
Setting foot inside this Grade II listed behemoth feels like entering a place of shelter
Take your choice of eating in their beautiful Winter Garden or the iconic Dining Area with glowing chandeliers, high ceilings and bright moods to be found at every seat. The newest menus that have been rolled out are inspired as usual by the DJ owners’ travels so you can expect heavy Mediterranean influences. This might be in the form of the fennel spiced mutabal and flatbread on the “Back to the Refuge” menu or their beetroot pakoras with a side of tamarind ketchup.
The “Back to the Refuge” menu is aptly titled, bringing a selection of small plates ideal for two people that want a taste of everything to remind them of what it feels like to eat out again. A total of eight dishes are brought out in two separate waves starting with a handful of starters including the aforementioned mutabal along with fire-roasted Padrón peppers seasoned liberally with Maldon salt and salt cod croquettes. As the mains are brought out you can look forward to a clean line of fattoush and the star of the show – lamb shawarma. The lamb shawarma is far from your usual greasy meat in polystyrene but rather a pulled plate of succulence accompanied by harissa and yoghurt dips. Definitely a nice change of pace from the past months of takeaways and amateur cooking.
The newest menus are inspired as usual by the DJ owners’ travels
For larger groups that are looking for even more to share, go for “The Refuge Experience”, a more substantial option which offers a whole 1.2kg of Persian spiced, slow-cooked lamb shoulder along with a whole host of other small plates – ideal for 4-6 people (from the same household, of course) to share and commemorate surviving the past few months.
Luckily, The Refuge is another restaurant taking part in the “eat out to help out” scheme meaning that their “Back to the Refuge” experience which would usually be £20 per person now works out at £10 per person every Wednesday. An absolute steal, given the quality and quantity brought to the table. With a wide range of options, music to set the mood and a venue that has more character than some Netflix shows, a visit to The Refuge might just be the perfect way to ease back into the normality of life.