There’s a new player in town and man does it mean business. A launch party took place only a couple of weeks ago that left guests wanting more. Here at Manchester Social 101 we wanted a piece of the action and headed over to see what all the fuss was about…

While some restaurants in Manchester are still reeling from Michelin’s snub again this year, others have disregarded old hat formalities and awards and are doing their own thing. The Refuge by Volta is one such restaurant.

Justin Crawford and Luke Cowdrey, aka The Unabombers, are behind the new addition to the city’s food and drink scene and they’ve ticked all the boxes.

The Refuge is a fabulously grand restaurant with stunning interiors. Ceramic pillars, trees adorned with fairy lights and an atrium ceiling offer a sense of elegance. A large motif on one of the walls entitled ‘The Glamour of Manchester’ perfectly exemplifies the décor. Yet, The Refuge simultaneously boasts a relaxed atmosphere. Staff are dressed casually and food is served ‘as and when it’s ready’, making for a laid back experience.

I visited on a Tuesday evening when you might expect the atmosphere to be a little under par, but I was wrong. Both the restaurant and bar were full, an indicator of how popular The Refuge is set to be, and the space is big enough that the busyness is enjoyable, rather than overbearing. The service is excellent too and there’s no evidence of staff feeling rushed.

The Refuge by Volta menu takes inspiration from around the globe. While an international theme can make a menu confusing, this one has just the right amount of options for meat eaters and vegetarians.

Myself and my guest ordered a few small dishes, although larger plates are also on the menu – ideal for those who, understandably, don’t share food!


The aubergine with molasses and feta is tasty, light and nicely complemented by a beetroot dip that has an authentic Greek flavour (recommended by our very attentive waitress). The salt cod croquettes and parsley aioli is a real highlight for me and rivalled the croquettes at El Gato Negro, which is not an easy feat.

A dish of crispy pork belly is cooked to perfection and the meat platter gives a taster of cured meats from around the globe. A variety of bread was a good addition to the table too – it’s not your traditional bread basket, instead featuring flatbreads, crackers and seeded loaf.

To accompany the dishes, the wine-list is ever-changing and diners are urged to ‘ask for something special’. Alternatively, revellers can choose from an impressive craft beer selection. We opted for cocktails to cleanse the palette.

The ‘Garden Spritz’ is fruity, sweet and very refreshing, while ‘Dog vs Bee’ is more suited to someone in need of a strong kick. We were encouraged to relax in the bar with our drinks after we’d finished eating, which was a welcoming touch.

This chic restaurant is the heart of a new social hub at the renovated The Palace Hotel. A bar, den, a stunning ‘Winter Garden’ and private dining area, in addition to the restaurant, ensures there is something for everyone.


It’s not fine dining à la Manchester House or The French, but it doesn’t try to be. It’s perfect for dinner and drinks with friends, a relaxed date night or a business lunch.

Tip: It’s worth getting lost within the hotel on your way to the restaurant, as we did – we were blown away by the refurbishment and the sculpture in the entrance way is an impressive sight to welcome guests.

The Refuge by Volta is open for business at The Palace Hotel Monday – Thursday 8am-2am, Friday and Saturday 8am-3am and Sunday 8am-12am.


Manchester Social 101 was hosted by The Refuge.

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