A couple of Saturdays ago Lyds and I met up in Manchester to plan lots of exciting new ideas for our blog. All the planning made us extremely hungry and by recommendation we headed over to Refuge by Volta, sister to the hugely popular Volta in Didsbury. The interior of the building is stunning, originally a refuge assurance company and then later turned into a hotel. The building has been completely refurbished but retained the original wall tiles and columns. The building feels grand and almost like you should be wearing your best formal wear, but it is quite the opposite and really you really fit right in relaxed back sitting on one of their many giant armchairs, wearing your skinny jeans and converse, sipping on and G&T.
We were taken through to our table which was a nice spacious booth and introduced to Pablo our waiter for the evening. Pablo was very welcoming and took us through the menu explaining that it was mainly made up of small plates which between us he recommended having five of. We asked if Pablo had any recommendations and he said he loved the lamb schwarma and the tiger prawns. We took his word for it and ordered the crispy lamb schwarma with harissa and yoghurt, grilled tiger prawns with chilli and lime butter, slow cooked ox cheek, egg and sriracha, roast sea bass, pine nuts, preserved lemon and chilli and volcanic tomatoes, cantaloupe, goats cheese, basil and black vinegar.
The food is inspired from around the world but with a British twist. It was absolutely delicious, with the braised ox cheek being our definite favourite; so tender and perfectly matched with the runny yolk of the egg. The lamb schwarma was a close favourite, crispy shreds of lamb piled up in a dish served with harissa to give it a lovely spicy coating.
We were left feeling satisfied but with enough room for dessert. Lyds was sold straight away by the white chocolate creme brûlée with cardamom and I fancied the orange blossom and honey polenta cake with pistachios and ricotta. We were expecting the desserts to be small but how wrong we were. Lydia’s arrived in a large shallow dish topped with two long crispy pistachio biscotti. The top of the brûlée was hard and crunchy as it should be, covering the smooth and creamy white chocolate custard that was lightly flavoured by cardamon. My cake came bright and beautifully presented. The polenta cake was warm and light with a summery orange flavour, topped with heavenly ricotta and pistachios. The perfect end to a delicious meal.
Refuge is a great place to come whether there’s two of you or a party of 10. The sharing of food approach makes this place so sociable, relaxed and enjoyable. There is plenty to choose from so there will be something for everyone and if you are worried you haven’t ordered enough they’ll happily let you order more as you go along.
Refuge by Volta
M60 7HA Manchester, Oxford Street
0161 233 5151