The British love their Sunday Roast. It’s just a shame that too often we are short changed by over done meat and shabby roasties. None of that at The Refuge though. Living up to the moniker, you get a plate that’s a tribute to the history, nostalgia and all round good feeling of the Sunday Roast.
To be fair, if we got any less at this arbiter of Manchester taste and nostalgia we would be disappointed. The space is housed beneath the Principal Hotel at the crossroads of Whitworth and Oxford streets, and overseen by cultural stalwarts the Unabombers, who we hazard a guess enjoy a good roast themselves.
It’s true that the Sunday Roast has a place at the very heart of traditional British food and good cooking. The British love of beef, and particularly on a Sunday, is nothing new. Since the reign of King Henry VII in 1485, the Yeoman of the Guard have been known as “beefeaters” because of their love of eating roast beef. In 1871, William Kitchener, author of Apicius Redivivus or The Cook’s Oracle described how to roast “the noble sirloin” hung on a spit before the fire for four hours. Of course, for most the luxury of a large fireplace or the money for much meat was far flung, so the story goes that smaller roasts would be dropped off en-route to church at the baker’s and cooked in the cooling bread ovens as bread was not baked on a Sunday. And so somewhere amongst all that, the tradition of the British Sunday Lunch began and still continues today.
So what of Sunday Lunch, or as they call it, ‘All Day Sunday’ at The Refuge? Well, the first thing to say is, as the title suggests, you can roll up and get your Refuge Sunday Lunch at any time during the day on Sunday. So if you’re an early riser, or nursing a Saturday night hangover later in the day, you won’t be disappointed.
The food on the plate is fantastic too. It’s immediately clear this has been very carefully put together by someone with a love of British traditional food. We tried the beef, the pig and the chicken (cooked in garlic, thyme and butter) between us and all were amazing. The beef in particular was beautifully cooked, pink and tender. The sourcing is reflected in the flavours – so you have for example, Grass-fed Dexter rump of beef or Barry Pugh’s suckling pig. Yum! There is a platter for two that give you a taste of everything, and includes roast beef, suckling pig and chicken with roast potatoes, Chantenay carrots and parsnip, Vimto-braised red cabbage, buttered greens, Yorkshire pudding, cauliflower cheese and pan gravy if you’re extra hungry.
There’s nothing missing from the options either, so you can choose sides to match your taste from Bacon, sage and onion stuffing ball, pigs in blankets, cauliflower cheese, Vimto-braised red cabbage and Yorkshire puddings amongst others, oh, and don’t forget the gravy.
It’s a relaxed, cosy affair; great service, great surroundings, great crowd, great beer list or cocktails for those who fancy with their yorkshire pud! Price wise it’s a bargain too, at £17 for the meat dishes and £15 for the vegan option. Can’t recommend highly enough. We’ll definitely be heading back whenever we’re in town on a Sunday!
The Refuge is at Oxford Street, Manchester, M60 7HA. For more information or bookings go to www.refugemcr.co.uk.