Restaurant review - The Refuge by Volta, Manchester
PUBLISHED: 00:00 12 May 2017
Didsbury cool meets Manchester's cosmopolitan appeal at the Principal Hotel's stunning restaurant, The Refuge, says Rebekka O'Grady.
If you heard the sentence ‘DJs-turned-restaurateurs’, you might be doubtful about the quality of food on offer. Surely just because you’re good behind the decks doesn’t mean you know about hospitality?
However, uber-cool duo Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford have proved that this misconception is very wrong thanks to the success of their award-winning West Didsbury restaurant, Volta. In fact, their global DJing trips helped to inspire the mouth-watering menu, one that is now on offer in Manchester city centre.
The business partners turned their golden touch to The Refuge, the dining option at the newly refurbished Principal Hotel. Previously known as The Palace Hotel, the former Refuge Assurance building on Oxford Road underwent a £20 million refurbishment last year, transforming it into a landmark destination.
From the well-stocked public bar, crafted from 40ft of granite bar, to the Winter Garden, a stunning atrium where elegant cocktails and afternoon tea are Instagram worthy, it’s an interior feast for the eyes. However, I was more concerned about what feast I was about to eat in the Dining Room.
The menu at The Refuge is based upon small plates and sharing dishes, created by head chef Alex Worrall. These dishes change regularly, but I find a Spanish theme runs strongly throughout. My sister and I start our evening with a meat board (£11) to share. A highlight is the Serrano gran reserve and duck ham.
We promise to share a bit of our own dishes, but when my slow-cooked ox cheek with egg and sriracha (£9.50) was served, I’m afraid Saira didn’t get a look in. The meat was extraordinarily tender, swathed in a rich sauce. The salt cod croquettes with parsley aioli (£6) were on a similar par, two of these moreish bites just weren’t enough for my suddenly insatiable appetite.
My sister’s chargrilled 6oz flat iron steak (£10) was cooked to perfection, the chimmichuri and B.N. Hollandaise sauce the ideal accompaniment. She said her grilled tiger prawns (£10) could have done with a bit more chilli, but the meat itself was delectable. The one thing we did actually share was the sweet potato mash (£4), which we both agreed was the best of its version that we had ever tasted.
Sadly we were both too full to order desserts, but with tempting options like pear and hazelnut tarte tatin with espresso custard, I am sure to make a very swift return.
The Refuge by Volta, The Principal, Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M60 7HA
Tel: 0161 288 1111, www.refugemcr.co.uk