Restaurant review – Refuge by Volta, Manchester

back to front, left to right: tiger prawns, volcanic tomatoes, oyster, halloumi and figs, raddichio,

Dinner at The Refuge, perfect for sharing: Back to front, left to right: tiger prawns, volcanic tomatoes, oyster, halloumi and figs, raddichio, beetroot and feta dip, fennel and pear salad, oyster, sea bass ceviche, pork belly, tuna tartare, stone bass, black daal, salt cod croquettes - Credit: The Refuge

The Refuge’s reputation precedes itself. After a whirlwind summer of food takeovers in their new outdoor terrace, their deliciously Instagrammable Sunday roast platters, and their annual Come As You Are event, which took place on the August bank holiday, it's become a staple on the Manchester food scene for those in the know. After hearing so much about the beautiful space, I decided it was time to see why this spot was so popular for myself.

The dining room has a parquet floor, blue seating, a ball-glass chandelier and a wall painting of Manchester's skyline

The dining room at The Refuge - Credit: The Refuge

Located on Manchester’s busy Oxford Street, The Refuge sits in the beautiful Kimpton Tower Hotel, which is wonderfully reminiscent of the Gatsby era – picture elegant open spaces, ceramic pillars, beautiful ambient lighting and a variety of dining spaces to choose from. I took my friend for dinner and as soon as we walked in we were welcomed by friendly staff who brought us to our table.

Just as every dinner dinner with friends  should start, we both ordered cocktails. I went for the Tipsy Lemonade - Absolut Citron vodka, limoncello, lemon, pink grapefruit sherbet, and prosecco – absolutely delicious and very dangerous, so I limited myself to only two. Incredibly refreshing and sweet, and went down far too easy. My friend chose the King’s Refuge - Jameson whiskey, King’s Ginger, lemon, rosemary and ginger ale – which she described as a but very tasty. 

The Refuge’s menu has taken inspiration from around the globe and offers a range of small plates and platters that are perfect for sharing with friends and family. Having never visited before, the waitress advised us to choose between four or five dishes to share. While we looked over the menu, we ordered some olives and charred Padron peppers, perfect foods to nibble on while deciding on what to choose.

We decided to share the spiced lamb flatbread, salt cod croquettes, tender stem broccoli, and some triple-cooked chips. The spiced lamb flatbread came in easy to share pieces and topped with drizzles of mint sauce and sweet pops of pomegranate. The stand out dish for me had to be the salt cod croquettes, served with a tartare aioli and grated parmesan. They were delightfully moreish, packed full of flavor, where the potato and fish complimented each other. The only fault was there were only two croquettes, so I would recommend ordering two lots if they are dish you like the sound of.

Salt Cod Croquette at The Refuge

Salt Cod Croquette - Credit: The Refuge

In my opinion, you can never go wrong with a plate of tender stem broccoli, which is why whenever I see it on a menu, I order it  - and The Refuge’s version didn’t disappoint. Cooked in garlic and served with a tasty Romesco sauce, they were quickly devoured. The same with the triple-cooked chips – a simple dish done well and served with an interesting black garlic aioli. I will admit, the sauce tasted better than it looked!

Unfortunately, nothing on the dessert menu tickled my taste buds and the same for my friend, so we dessert in favour of another delicious cocktail.

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The Refuge didn’t disappoint but I would say if you had a bigger appetite, then I suggest ordering a few more small plates. I’ll definitely be back, because those Sunday dinners look divine.