Our Story & The Best Pastrami
The heart and soul of The Refuge are husband and wife team, Matt Levin and Melanie Roth along with Executive Chef, Michael Greuel. Matt and Michael met as sous chefs at the well known peninsula restaurant, Viognier. Later, Matt became Chef de Cuisine and Michael the Executive Chef at Viognier. It was there that Matt and Michael conceived The Refuge.
The combined experience and background of the two are unparalleled. Matt has extensive international experience. He worked in Paris, France for two years. Working in the prestigious Michelin-starred kitchens such as Les Ambassadeurs at Hotel de Crillon, Taillevent, and Le Pre Catelan,
The true French culture, Matt realized, revolved around a bold autonomy, constantly blooming from respected traditions. He carries this epiphany in his head to this very day.
Like a perfectly scripted fairy tale, the genesis of the Refuge's name lies just adjacent to Matt and Melanie's old metro stop in Montmartre. It was an old wine bistrot called "Le Refuge."
The greatest cooks (and true restaurant professionals), Matt believes, work within the spectre of ‘Tour de Main’, or ‘slight of hand’. These are the minute details and techniques that are not in the recipes or presentations. Rather, they are sublime expressions that elevate what is seemingly ordinary to the extraordinary, and show their face at the most unlikely times, in every level of cuisine.
Overwhelmed with inspiration, Matt made up his mind that this was the type of restaurant he’d like to own and on March 4, 2008, opened the doors to the Refuge San Carlos. 5 years later, Refuge Menlo Park was born.
To claim the title, “The Best Pastrami”, one must be very careful. This declaration in and of itself, will surely get people’s blood boiling from coast to coast. At the REFUGE, we have the luxury of skill and experience at our disposal. So a claim such as the above does not scare us in the least.
Our formula and methods are heavily researched and tested. To put up the collateral of your home, and for that matter, life savings, you’d better be sure it's up to scratch. Our pastrami is more than up to scratch. It is based in the old traditions laid down by the great delis of New York, yet is taken to other dimensions. We use the ‘heart of the navel’ cut of beef, which is located just below the brisket (corned beef) in the upper 14% of the beef plate (known as beef bacon to butchers).
The care and time taken to tenderize is well beyond that of others. Our yield is around 50% because we trim off all undesirable fat and sinew, as well as steam the meat for hours upon end to reach the proper tenderness.
This process is extremely hands-on, and very difficult to keep consistent. Much credit is given to the kitchen team for their focus and passion to put out a product in which they are consistently proud. We give the Bay Area something in which they have yet to experience in all of its history. Back in 2008, it didn’t seem right that the gastronomic capital of the world, would have no true pastrami. We were the first to offer pastrami this way. Don’t miss out!