Post-COVID Bucket List #8: "Come As You Are" Weekenders, Small Plates & Huge Roasts

There's always something going on at The Refuge...

By Manchester's Finest | 23 February 2021

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As we continue our lockdown experience, with many of us hopeful that our PM will deliver some good news on Monday (unlikely), it seems to me that, at the moment, the weekends are THE WORST.

Usually the time when we all go a bit mad on Bottomless Prosecco and Roast Dinners, weekends are really rather boring nowadays – and I have personally just resigned myself to doing work instead of sitting around being bored or flicking through Netflix for hours on end.

For example, I’m writing this today on a Sunday, a day in which I’d usually have been waking up with a hangover, nipping out to the shop for some Quavers and a few tins, having a dance around the house to some circa-71 Supremes and then heading out for a roast somewhere.

And that’s the kicker – the roast dinner. I don’t want to make it myself – it’s just way too much effort and washing up – and nothing is more of a weekend treat than nipping off somewhere for a truly outstanding roast dinner experience.

One of the city’s greatest in that respect is of course, The Refuge, a place that I’ve been missing on regular occasions throughout the lockdown, not just because of their world class Roast Beef, Vimto-braised cabbage and HUGE Yorkshires – but for all the other reasons too.

The thing about The Refuge is that you’re never stuck for things to do or see there. One of the biggest draws in the few years since they opened has been their ‘Come As You Are Weekenders’ – basically HUGE parties, usually on a bank holiday, which effortlessly pull in everyone and anyone in Manchester.

From the outdoor raves in the terrace, to all-nighters downstairs in the basement, The Refuge is transformed into a party paradise – one that invariably features some of the world’s greatest DJs and live performers.

When The Refuge isn’t partying like it’s bloody 1999, it’s also a rather impressive bar and restaurant, serving up an eclectic range of small plates – ‘Voltini‘ – inspired by the world travels of owners Luke and Justin AKA The Unabombers.

There’s the Lamb Shawarma, Slow-cooked Ox Cheek, Gloucester Old Spot Pork Belly, Pan-fried Sea Bass, Keralan Fish Curry, Beetroot Pakora, and who could forget that tremendous Smoked Feta and Beetroot Hummus? Certainly not me – I think about it seemingly ALL THE TIME!

During the Summer of 2020 – between lockdowns, The Refuge also introduced a brand-new Brunch Menu, served on the weekends and featuring a host of classic and exotic breakfast dishes.

Alongside the Benedict and Smashed Avocado was one of the best Shakshuka’s I’ve ever tasted in my life (topped with chorizo and feta), as well as a Dill & Chilli Bloody Mary which instantly rose up the ranks as easily one of the best in the city.

There was also the ‘Tenner Well Spent‘ deal in the bar where you could get what was essentially a huge Roast Dinner Sandwich, alongside as many of the trimmings on the side as you could handle.

What can we expect from The Refuge in 2021 then?

Well, first up is this year’s Suffragette City event, a live streaming fundraiser taking palce on Saturday 6th March. An annual celebration of International Women’s Week in the city, the event will see a host of Manchester ladies doing their thing including aalice, Danielle Moore, Jenna G, Lovescene and DJ Paulette.

We should also expect another Come As You Are Weekender at some point in the run up to the Summer – should we be allowed to leave our houses before then.

Until then though, we’re a bit stuck with looking at old pictures and reminiscing about our times at The Refuge. They’ve actually been posting recipes for some of their dishes on their socials – so perhaps you can give them a try for the time being?


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