First impressions are not always correct. A sentence I can confidently use when describing The Refuge restaurant in Manchester. What was supposed to be an exciting celebratory meal in December ended up as a disappointing experience and I wasn’t in any rush to return.
Having worked in the service industry over a busy Christmas period I sympathised and understood why the visit went wrong. Contacting the manager to voice my upset, the perfectly worded professional response I received changed my view and last week I returned with an open mind.
The £20 million refurb certainly takes your breath away. Whilst retaining lots of the original architectural features, a space has been created you could easily mistake for a lively museum. The atmosphere is cosmopolitan yet relaxed and the staff certainly make you feel special – you could forget it’s actually a 130 cover dining space! The winter garden has a magical vibe to it and I asked if I could dine in there, which to my delight was happily arranged for me.
The cuisine is hard to place, it feels spanish but there are influences from all around the world on the menu. The choices are mostly small places but there are a few larger plates you could have as a main.
The manchego, quince pairing is stunning (£7.00) and the chorizo, cinnamon, red wine (£5.50) had me lusting after the recipe. The perfectly cooked duck, rhubarb, ginger dish (£8.00) was my favourite of them all, I could have had it as a large main!
The food comes in waves which meant nothing went prematurely cold and noticing the new additions to the menu showcased the use of available produce as the seasons change.
After greedily ordering the majority of the menu the perfect finale turned out to be the Hot toddy creme brûlée, highly recommended by my server- it really hit the spot!
TripAdvisor warriors who voice complaints to an overall judgemental audience instead of giving the hard working restaurant private honest insights should take note. We all have off days and you could end up missing out on a fabulous experience.
Any previous disappointments have completely left my mind and I am eagerly planning my next visit!
Author: Charlie Rowarth