Whilst there are many restaurants in Manchester which I regard as “special”, there are few which I like to keep on reserve for extra super special occasions.
This occasion could be a birthday, a promotion, heck maybe even just an excuse to wear a cute dress I’ve been neglecting; but for this particular occasion, The Refuge was really the only place to go.
Vacate the dusty blue streets of Manchester for a moment in favour of the golden entryway, found just off Oxford Street.
Push through the heavy-set double doors, admiring the caramel coloured tiles and cereamic pillars as you go, and you’ll arrive in one of several rooms The Refuge has designed especially for your pleasure.
Grab a beverage in the plush setting of the Public Bar, and drink in your surroundings under the buzzing edison bulbs as you mentally ‘gram everything in sight.
Then I do insist you move swiftly on to the main event.
The dining room.
If you’re as lucky as we were, you’ll be seated in your very own cosy booth, complete with glowing orb light fixtures and a blanket view of dusk slowly growing outside.
We dined on a Sunday where the menu is limited to that of a typically British institution. I don’t know about you, but a roast for me is a pretty big deal; I very rarely order it in a restaurant due to the mindset that the best roasts on this earth are rustled up by our mothers from your kitchen at home; where the windows have fogged up under the bubbling pans of assorted veg and the meat is clumsily hacked apart into rugged, oversized doorstops by your dad (much to the unamusement of mum who spent the last 3 hours tending to the beef’s every need).
But, whilst these are arguably the best roasts in the world, it’s always good to have a back up, and so we ordered the Roast Platter for 2 along with a couple of cocktails to really see out Sunday in style.
Being two girls with quite the appetite, we were hoping for a feast fit for Kings…
Exactly that…AND cauliflower cheese!
First order of business was immediately staking our claim on the giant Yorkshire Puds to reveal the decadent feast below.
Load up and devour with gravy.
If, like me, you struggle to pick your favourite meat for a roast, I highly recommend you opt for the Platter. Atop of the roasted potatoes, sweet snaps of carrots, parsnips, Vimto-braised red cabbage and buttered greens, you’ll find two meaty thighs of garlic roast chicken, it’s succulent meat massaged with rich flavours of butter and thyme; juicy slab of rump beef and generous slices of suckling pig.
We spent the next 30 minutes in glorious splendor; hardly pausing to look up from our plates; stealing sentances here and there, devouring eachothers company and the bounty before us.
I wish I could divulge you in a particular highlight, but frankly every forkful was as eye-rollingly wonderful as the last; from the melt-in-the-mouth beef to the sweetly-teased bites of red cabbage. Even, the gravy; like a thick meaty soup did the unthinkable of making each mouthful even more moreish than the last.
With only meager traces of vegetables and drips of gravy left as breadcrumbs of our banquet, we took a breather before allowing ourselves the consideration of pudding.
A simple assortment, there was only ever one contender.
The Sticky Toffee Pudding, ONLY available on Sundays.
Glorious! My only wish was for there to be more of the thick, butterscotch nectar – alas this is merely because I am greedy and is always the case when ordering up this particular dessert; (I doubt I’ll be happy until the sauce is served by the bathtub).
The plates and glasses might be cleared away; but that’s no reason for your evening to end. Order up another drink from the charming bartenders and escape into the achingly beautiful Winter Garden.
Bag yourself one of the cosy couches, and settle in for a long luxurious affair.
Sometimes, an empty space in your calendar is the only occasion you need to arrange a fabulous date with one of your favourites. It’s very rarely quiet, so make a reservation, rally up your nearest and dearest and prepare for a Sunday supper you’ll never forget.