Cheshire Life Luncheon - The Palace Hotel, Manchester

Radicchio, pomegranate and orange blossom salad

Radicchio, pomegranate and orange blossom salad - Credit: Archant

Guests at our latest luncheon were privileged to be the first to enjoy dining in the new look Palace Hotel in Manchester city centre.

The Winter Garden

The Winter Garden - Credit: Archant

Cheshire Life’s luncheons are always something special and the occasion at Manchester’s magnificent Palace Hotel was no exception.

Not only were guests treated to a fabulous four course menu but they were the first to view the hotel’s brand new look following a multi million pound facelift that has transformed it into a landmark destination.

The £20m refurbishment of the hotel - formerly the Refuge Assurance building - on Oxford Road has greatly enhanced the interior appeal. There’s now a cool new bar and restaurant area in partnership with the owners of the funky South Manchester restaurant brand Volta.

New additions include an adult ‘playground’ complete with table football and snooker tables, an impressively well-stocked 40ft granite bar featuring 160 spirits, 12 different beers and more than 30 types of gin, as well as an outdoor courtyard.

Coconut and vanilla panna cotta
Spiced ginger rhubarb, raisin shortbread and toasted coconut

Coconut and vanilla panna cotta Spiced ginger rhubarb, raisin shortbread and toasted coconut - Credit: Archant

As lunch commenced guests were greeted by co-hosts Cheshire Life editor Louise Allen-Taylor and Palace Hotel General Manager Michael Purtill in a glittering glass atrium, now called The Refuge, in homage to the hotel’s origins.

Said Michael: ‘It’s a very exciting time. We have spent an awful lot of money restoring the building back to its former glory and protecting everything that makes it special. These beautifully decorated tiles, the arches and architectural features, are all being brought into the 21st century.

‘We are all about northern hospitality and my motto for The Refuge is come as you are, stay all day. We are going to have great food and great drinks and the bar which will serve afternoon tea during the day will be, as the Volta boys would describe it ‘Instagram gold’.’

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Chic loft style bedrooms and a revamped ballroom that is the biggest event space in the north of England, complete the impressive picture of what is one of the most stunning architectural sights in the city.

Of course, it isn’t just the physical attributes of the building that impressed luncheon guests. Banqueting chef Paul Speakman, who is in charge of event catering, demonstrated a culinary flair that, like the hotel itself, combines heirloom and contemporary.

Chef Paul, whose credentials include working for Marco Pierre White in London, at The Lowry, Manchester Central and Manchester Town Hall and with Simon Rimmer in Hale had created a menu perfect for early autumn.

A starter of heirloom tomatoes and creamy buffalo mozzarella was memorable for the addition of pea shoots and olive powder with the added crunch of toasted mixed seeds.

Next was a radiccio salad dressed with pomegranate and orange blossom with a heady fragrance that married up all the flavours perfectly.

A pink plump medallion of British beef was served with horseradish mash, which had been dyed black with squid ink. Very tasty. Finally, for pudding a rich coconut and vanilla panna cotta served with a hint of spiced rhubarb and decorated with gold leaf, proved both indulging and palate-cleansing at the same time.

It was a taste of things to come for luncheon guests, who were able to soak up the regal atmosphere of the Directors’ dining room, while lingering over coffee and handmade chocolates.

‘For me to come into one of the largest buildings in the north west and produce fine dining food for 750 people, is ideal. I really want to take it forward and push the boundaries,’ said chef Paul.

‘It’s fantastic to do this type of food. I love doing it. It’s good fun.’


The Palace Hotel, Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M60 7HA

Tel 0161 288 1111

Opening Times

The refuge is open from 8am-2am

To begin

Heirloom tomato and buffalo mozarella salad, mixed seeds, olive powder, pea shoots, balamic dressing

To continue

Radiccio, pomegranate and orange blossom salad

For mains

Medallion of British beef, horseradish mash, five onion relish, red wine and Madeira jus

To Finish

Coconut and vanilla panna cotta

To drink

Nyla Sauvignon Blanc

Western Cape, South Africa

Argentino Seleccion Malbec

Mendoza, Argentina