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4 April 2012
110 Southwark St
0845 8595 0186
I always get excited when The Refinery has a new season of goodies because they are always good and always exciting, so it was no different with the launch of their new Flambé menu, created to make use of their extensive outdoor seating and the spring weather.
Me and the under-pressure youth worker headed off there to sample the new range of cocktails - and to see our food cooked before us - as an end of the week stress-buster. We were met by the efficient team of Manager Sam and Kevin, who prepared an outside table, brought menus and two specially made cocktails, using Sparrow Gin - an award-winning little delight that is actually distilled in our borough.
Of course, with flambé cooking you are restricted to what you can have – not all food is suited to being torched – but they have come up with a menu that is accessible to everyone. While we checked out what was on offer we made faces of admiration over the cocktails.
Not for each other but for the skills of Kevin the Mixologist. My little blackberry-based number was delicious, while Nina’s had the aroma of angels and the bite of a banned dog.
A trolley laden with a stove, a pan and all things nice was wheeled up to the table and we were introduced to Head Chef Gareth who was doing the honours. A crowd gathered. Not for Gareth and us, but to enjoy the night and have a fag outside the bar.
Part time vegetarian Nina had gone for the Scampi Mornay. Gareth, an amiable chap who sounds like one of your own, talked us through each step of the operation making our mouths water at each stage. When the cognac went in I actually drooled. When the flames took hold I actually screamed!
The gathering crowd leapt back in terror! This was performance cooking at its best and Gareth did everything with flourishes that matched anything any TV chef has ever done.
As Nina began eating so Gareth began cooking my Steak Diane from beef hung for 30 days, once again teasing as he verbalised every action. Needless to say it was fantastic.
With summer on its way Refinery’s revival of flambé cooking is perfectly timed. Yes, it does attract attention from others nearby, but what’s wrong with that? When those flames go up in a whoosh so there is another whoosh as the adrenalin rushes through the veins. It is cooking with panache and not for the faint-hearted.
Two more cocktails arrived. The now de-stressed youth worker had a Mandarin G&T while I went for a Hippy Hippy Shake. Mine was very good, but Nina’s was even better. Dangerously so…
For dessert I had the Flambé Bananas, which were fired up with sugar, butter and rum. Nice. I’ll be having a go at those myself so if you see me with no eyebrows you’ll know why.
Nina went for the classic Crêpe Suzette, a pancake that is a step up from the Shrove Tuesday favourites. The now calm and collected youth worker said of the evening: ‘Opulent and ostentatious’. Have it!
The new Flambé menu is great for showing off, splashing out or just enjoying yourself and good food. Three courses will cost just £27.95 without cocktails.
Mandarin G&T £8.95
Hippy Hippy Shake £8.50
Cocktails x 2 £17.00
Scampi Mornay £17.95
Steak Diane £17.95
Crêpe Suzette £7.95
Flambé Bananas £7.95
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