The woof guide to The Refuge at Kimpton Clocktower Hotel

By Janet Reeder

Woof Guide to The Refuge

The woof guide to The Refuge at Kimpton Clocktower Hotel

Woof Guide to The Refuge

“Is this the most dog-friendly restaurant in Manchester?” asks Peppa

It’s often hard for humans who don’t want to leave their dogs at home. They are banished to the outdoors in all weathers just for the privilege of having us sit close by and look into their eyes with a face that says, ‘feed me’.

On the day we headed over to The Refuge, which is a bar and restaurant based in the majestic Kimpton Clocktower Hotel on Oxford Road in Manchester, they went to see an exhibition at the new Aviva Studios. Of course, they both had to go in to see the exhibition separately as even art-loving dogs like me aren’t allowed in the gallery space, but I’m pleased to report I am allowed in the ‘Social’, which is the name of the bar/café area, so doggies and their owners won’t be missing out on all the action when the impressive arts venue officially opens in October.

Woof Guide to The Refuge outdoors

Neither are we made to feel third class at the Refuge, because not only could I frequent the bar, but I could also accompany my humans into the restaurant itself. A huge, windowed, light-infused, New York loft-like restaurant that’s up-market without being up itself.

The staff here are really, really friendly. If they had tails, I think they’d wag all the time. And they are helpful without being pushy or annoying. I mean Francesca, who was lovely and friendly to me and never kept doing that annoying thing of pouring wine as soon as the humans had taken a few sips and although she had to explain the menu, which had big plates and small plates, she didn’t spend ages boring us all with the details.

I had my own bowl of water, while the wine they drank was a light, slightly fizzy Vinho Verde. If it had been a Sunday, I could have had a dog roast – a roast dinner designed for pooches, but because it was a weekday, I was given delicious treats, plus I had a taste of whipped Kidderton Ash goat’s cheese, which was super-nice for humans as it was topped with a hot sauce called zhug. I was also allowed a tiny piece of the dry-aged sirloin steak, jazzed up with zhug and another Middle Eastern sauce called shatta. I was allowed to sit at the table and watch as small plates of highly addictive Padrón peppers, charred carrots coated in a spicy roasted mix called za’atar, blackened tenderstem broccoli, which was revved up with crispy onion dukkha and artichokes and aioli were delivered to the table. After such deliciousness, they had to have puddings – the sticky toffee pudding was OK, but the chocolate and raspberry delice was excellent. On the whole though, the cooking was fantastic and as you’d expect from The Refuge, a little bit leftfield. It’s a beautiful, modern restaurant space and we all love the big, busy bar too. And nothing is too much trouble for the staff, especially when it comes to pleasing dog guests. 

Also, Just in case you don’t know, it’s National Dog Day on August 26th and Kimpton Clocktower will be rolling out the red carpet for humans and their hounds. That’s definitely something to bark about.