I love it when a good restaurant branches out, which is why I was excited to hear about Volta’s foray into a central Manchester opening. I love Volta’s food – check my original review here. Good food coupled with a magnificent space is a one heck of a killer combo, which is why I envisage great things for The Refuge. (If it’s anything to do with Volta, The Refuge team will undoubtedly smash it out of the park.)


The Refuge is a public bar and dining room set in 10,000 square foot of breath-taking space at the iconic Palace Hotel. It’s about a simple devotion to great food and drink, and an extraordinary transformation of one of the city’s grandest spaces – all designed for the people of Manchester.

Being a creative bod, I know what it’s like to wear many hats. It doesn’t surprise me that the curators of the space, two men behind the multi-award-winning Volta in West Didsbury are DJs turned award-winning restaurateurs. You may have heard about Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford of “Unabombers” fame, who have their fingers on pulses to know what works and why.


The Refuge is located in one of Manchester’s most iconic buildings, the former offices of the Refuge Assurance on Oxford Street, which was constructed in stages between 1891 and 1932. The building has been subject to a painstaking renovation, restoring a feast of original details in glorious terracotta, faience, marble and glazed brick.

Modern design has been woven carefully into the space by Luke and Justin who are masters at creating the perfect atmosphere for enjoying their very special food and drink. The result is an exceptional all day dining and drinking space for eating, meeting, relaxing, working, toasting… and perhaps a bit of dancing.


It’s an impressive space indeed. The 139 cover Dining Room boasts an en vogue open kitchen, whilst the Winter Garden is the perfect venue for taking afternoon tea.

But what’s the food like? The Refuge brings Volta’s award-winning formula of bespoke and beautiful small plates and grills to the city centre.


The menu is all about a simple devotion to great food, and is inspired by Luke and Justin’s well-travelled background as globe-trotting DJs, particularly in cities such as San Sebastian, Barcelona, Rome, Sydney, Tokyo and beyond. In the hands of Refuge Head Chef Alex Worrall, Volta’s signature style has been given new depth and scale.


Traditional Volta dishes such as the Lamb Shawarma; Smoked Feta and Beetroot; and Gloucester Old Spot Pork Belly sit alongside a new, wider grill selection and large plates (for those who don’t like to share).


I loved the fish goujons from the Volta menu, which I hope will be included at The Refuge. Standout food offerings include ‘The People’s Lunch’, where diners can enjoy a vegetarian, meat or fish seasonal special for the bargainous price of £7.50.

 To find out more about The Refuge, hop onto website www.refugemcr.co.uk now.