The Refuge Gets a New Menu

I think there is a misconception when it comes to small plates that they are only designed for summer.

By Manchester's Finest | October 25th '18

Perhaps it is because we make the association with tapas and al fresco dining on long summer days – but I think there is a lot to be said for cosy, heart-warming dishes designed to be shared also.

After all, what is more comforting in the cooler months than getting together to break some bread with the people you love?

If anything was a testament to this ethos, it would be The Refuge and their new menu of autumnal small plates.

The chefs have managed to take everything we love about summer eating and pump it full of earthy, seasonal flavours with influences taken from every corner of the globe in true Refuge style.

Take, for example, the slow-cooked beef brisket mole served with crispy onions. Nothing tastes like home more than stewed beef, but the aromatic, nutty Mexican mole just takes this dish to the next level.

The grilled broccoli with beetroot romesco and hazelnut is a wintery update of a summer dish at their sister restaurant Volta. Nothing says autumn quite like beetroot, and I am glad to see it peppered all over the Refuge’s new menu.

The Merguez sausages are a winner too. Salty, sweet and spicy all at once – these sausages from the Middle East are served on a bed of puy lentils and served with a crispy egg yolk. Perhaps we can call this a Turkish twist on a British breakfast classic.

These sausages are perfectly paired with the autumn fatoush salad. Hailing from the same corner of the globe, this salad has been given a warming twist with seasonal beetroots, cucumber and sumac for that signature Middle Eastern flavour. Finish this divine combo with a plate of the grilled aubergine salad with tahini for best results.

Sticking with meat, another highlight is the Gloucester Old Spot pork belly with apple, celeriac and Thai seven spice. I love the forest notes of this dish with the sweet apple and the earthy celeriac. The spices are a nice touch too, and one we do not expect to marry with the classic flavour combination so beautifully.

It’s not all about meat though. Fish lovers are well looked after with the new additions to the menu. The Poke bowl acted as a fresh transitional summer dish – a delectable concoction of raw salmon, sticky rice, mooli (radish) and avocado.

The Keralan fish curry was a big highlight as far as I am concerned. Don’t know if I love it because it tickled my curry-craving I can’t seem to kick after my holiday or because it was downright delicious – but lets for argument sake say it was a healthy combo of the two.

The fish was beautifully cooked (a little under- just how I like it) and smothered in a beautifully aromatic sauce. This was the dish I wasn’t up for sharing.

If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, then perhaps the steaming bowl of mussels will – cooked in a rich sauce of tomatoes flavoured with bay, lemon and a slight kick of chilli. If you are looking for a bowl of something to warm your cockles from the inside out- look no further than this dish.

Finally, on the salad front (if you can really call a hunking ball of cheese a salad) – the dish that I woke up in the morning thinking about was the Burrata. Served with bitter radicchio leaves, orange for sweetness and pumpkin seeds for a bit of crunch – to call this dish perfectly formed would be an understatement.

All in all, The Refuge has managed the impossible and made their relaxed dining style relevant for the time of year when we just feel like hibernating in a corner by ourselves. Get together with the people you love and get sharing some of these stunningly seasonal dishes this autumn.

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The Refuge, Oxford St, Manchester M60 7HA
0161 233 5151
www.refugemcr.co.uk/