A native of Akron, Ohio, Mr. Levin worked in Michelin-starred kitchens in Paris and served as a chef at Viognier, the upscale restaurant in San Mateo, before opening The Refuge in San Carlos five years ago. It is named after an old wine bistro in Paris.
Although Paris might be the inspiration, the menu at The Refuge seems related to the famed delicatessens of New York or Los Angeles. According to Yelp and other websites, the most popular item on the restaurant's menu is the Reuben sandwich (pastrami, sauerkraut, melted Swiss, and Russian dressing on toasted rye). Another hit is goofy fries (garlic fries topped with chopped pastrami and cheddar cheese sauce). The extensive menu also lists such offerings as ribeye cheesesteaks, burgers, and even a pastrami chopped salad.
Just so you don't leave hungry, there are house-made ice creams, bread pudding, and a root beer float on the dessert menu.
Eighteen Belgian ales are on tap and the bar features 100 selections of artisan ales. The Refuge also offers "old world" wines.
The Refuge's new location is the former site of Siam Restaurant and, later, Marq's of Menlo.