A Taste of The Refuge

By Tim Alderson | 24 August 2016

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Regular readers will know that team Finest have got a lot of love for Volta, and we must not be the only ones, as the men behind the restaurant, Justin Crawford and Luke Cowdrey of Unabombers fame, were selected to head up the new dining proposition at The Refuge inside the Palace Hotel. I have to ashamedly admit I’m yet to check out Volta myself (although I’ve sunk more pints in their Chorlton bar Elektrik than I’d care to remember) so I was very much looking forward to seeing what all the fuss was about their food. 

Steven Wilson_Luke Cowdrey_Alex Worrall

Steven Wilson, Luke Cowdrey & Alex Worrall

I was lucky enough to go a few of the Unabombers’ Electric Chair parties, including the legendary final riot back in 2008. They were held at the Music Box which was only a couple of minutes walk down Oxford Road from The Palace Hotel. That club was as gloriously sweaty, smelly and dank as they come, and I loved the place, but when it comes to The Refuge I think it’s fair to say they’ve traded up somewhat. If you’ve not been to see the place you need to check it out. In fact as luck would have it there’s a two day party in the courtyard there this bank holiday weekend, and it’s free, so no excuses. Anyway, on to food because there’s loads to get through.

Seabass Cerviche

Seabass cerviche

We were treated to a selection of the food that will be served at when the kitchen opens next month, and it was certainly an eclectic mix of international flavours befitting the Unabomber’s globe-trotting careers as DJs. First we enjoyed some fantastic seafood, stuffed bass and sea bass cerviche both impressed, as did the tuna tatare.

Belly Stuffed Bass

Belly Stuffed Bass

Tuna Tartare

Tuna tartare, avocado and passion fruit

Fig and halloumi was salty, sweet and sticky, contrasting the more earthy flavours of crisp, cumin seasoned pork belly.

Fig and Halloumi

Fig and halloumi

Gloucester Old Spot Pork Belly

Gloucester old spot pork belly with chimichurri

Radicchio, pomegranate, orange blossom

Radicchio, pomegranate, orange blossom

Slow Cooked Leg of Lamb

Luke Cowdrey gets stuck in to some lamb

Of the larger dishes the slow cooked lamb in particular caught the eye, that tender leg was a bit of a showstopper, similarly stunning was stonebass cooked in banana leaves with tamarind, chilli and lime.

Stone Bass Tamarind Chilli & Lime

There’s a fish under all that fragrant flavour

Much of the food was meant for sharing, and that was also the case with the fondue dessert, a selection of fruits, sweets, and baked goods to dip in chocolate sauce that was spectacularly indulgent.

Chocolate Fondue

The Refuge dining room by Volta will be serving up from next month. But if you can’t wait that long you can get a sneak preview of the venue this bank holiday weekend at their Come As You Are street party.