The Refuge opened up on Tuesday. I wandered in for lunch today.
The sign on the front says "wine bar, pastrami, charcuterie." I had a Pastrami sandwich with coleslaw and russian dressing. It was simply outstanding. The pastrami was warm and moist yet not fatty at with great texture. It had the perfect amount of spice. It was served on a hearty rye bread that did a great job of standing up to the pastrami. The sandwich was a perfectly reasonable size: ample, but not overstuffed. Let's see if I can put it into perspective. The refuge's pastrami is to the typical boar's head pastrami as a hershey bar is to an artisan handmade truffle. Not in the same universe.
My 2 year old son, had a very tasty grilled cheese and fries. He liked it a lot...and I concur.
In addition to the pastrami, they have fresh ground american kobe burgers, cheesesteaks made from fresh sliced ribeye, a nice charcuterie and cheese selection, as well as soups and salads.
They've also got what looks to be a very well thought out wine and beer selection with an emphasis on biodynamic wines and Belgian beer.
I spoke with the owner, Matt. He told me that he had been chef de cuisine at Viogner and wanted to open up his own, much less formal place. I hope he'll be successful.
Prices. Not cheap, but reasonable for the quality. The basic pastrami is $13, reuben $14, cheese stakes and burgers $12.
Bottom line: I think this place is yet another winner for San Carlos (yes, SAN CARLOS!) . If you like pastrami, this is a place that is worth a trip out of your way (possibly a long trip out of your way!) I'm looking forward to returning soon to try the other items on the menu.
963 Laurel Street
San Carlos, CA 94070