The Refuge is a cool bar and dining room, serving cocktails, small plates and sharing dishes from around the world.
We had drinks in the spacious bar first, which has an outside area, with a room called The Winter Gardens to sit in and an area for playing pool and table football. The place is so huge that no one area, impinges on another.
We went through to the restaurant, after having a drink in the bar and were shown to a lovely table in a booth, great for people watching.
We ordered a very nice bottle of Quinta Milu La Cometa Ribera Del Duero wine from Spain, a top quality vegan wine.
Our waitress Lauren gave us menus and then another lady came over to ask about my vegan pre-order and then another waitress brought some olives to the table and here began some confusion.
Several waiters appeared with other plates, as part of a vegan tasting menu, so I explained that I had only pre-ordered mutabal and flatbread, so chef could omit the sour cream. I think there was a communication problem and all the dishes I had suggested could be veganised, had been made. However Steven who is not vegan felt obliged to help me out, as it was a banquet, so he only ordered one dish for himself.
Mutabal and flatbread
Broccolini with breadcrumbs
Fennel and pear salad
Volanic tomato salad
Radicchio and orange salad with orange blossom
We had to leave some of the food, there was far too much and I was worried about the cost. However Lauren, having spoken to the Manager on duty, said that they would knock the food off the bill, which we protested about, as we had eaten a fair bit, but they insisted.
Would I return to The Refuge, for a drink definitely, but based on their current veganised food options, basically salad or vegetables, most of it cold, with no protein source, no I would not. The food tasted okay, was seasoned and presented nicely, I loved the peppers and the mutabal, but it all lacked imagination or creativity and took me back to dining out thirty years ago, when no-one knew what to feed a vegan.
Service however, throughout the night, was brilliant, what a friendly and professional team, special thanks to Lauren and Matt.