The Refuge by Volta is now open!

The city’s most anticipated new dining and drinking space officially launched tonight with a glamorous opening party attended by more than 1200 guests

By Steven Pankhurst | Last updated 9 February 2017

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The city’s most anticipated new dining and drinking space officially launched last week with a glamorous opening party attended by more than 1200 guests…


The Refuge is a public bar and dining room set in 10,000 square feet 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.

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 project architects 3D Reid and interior designers Michaelis Boyd, with final layering by Luke and Justin who are masters at creating the perfect atmosphere for enjoying their very special food and drink. The result in an exceptional all day dining and drinking space for eating, meeting, relaxing, working, toasting… and perhaps a bit of dancing.

The Refuge is divided up into 4 areas:

  • Dining Room: A 139 cover relaxed dining restaurant with an open kitchen, booths, private dining room and high benches perfect for sharing plates.
  • Public Bar: a 40ft granite bar with 18 craft ale taps, a drinks menu hand selected by Luke and Justin, and a Refuge signature cocktail list.
  • Winter Garden: Housed inside a glass atrium cascading with natural sunlight, the Winter Garden is perfect for enjoying The Refuge’s elegant cocktails and will be the venue for afternoon and champagne teas too.
  • The Den: A cosy den space provides the perfect breakout and working area or a great spot for parties. Complete with table football, pool, big screen, and its own private bar, it can be hired for events or just be enjoyed post dinner/during drinks.


The food at The Refuge brings Volta’s award-winning formula of crafted 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). The menu also includes a show-stopping range of ‘friends and family’ style dishes for the table including an indulgent whole leg of slow roast lamb with harissa rub and mutabal, and a magnificent whole stone bass with shallots, peanuts, tamarind, chilli and lime.

Provenance and quality ingredients remain absolutely integral to the food vision. The producers with whom Luke and Justin have developed such strong relationships at Volta are the stars of The Refuge menu, including North Yorkshire’s Taste Tradition, whose Dexter Beef and Gloucester Old Spot have been essential to Volta’s success and are now nationally recognised. Desserts have been given a creative new lease of life at The Refuge too including a flamboyant and unforgettable chocolate fondue!

The menu intends to be as inclusive as it is exceptional, and The People’s Lunch is a tribute to that commitment to serving the people of Manchester. For £7.50 diners can enjoy a veg, meat or fish seasonal special – an express, no nonsense, big hearty bowl of fresh soul food, all designed to be lunch-hour compatible.

As an all-day ‘city centre oasis’ this menu takes diners and drinkers through from brunch & coffee to lunch & dinner, via afternoon high tea  & cocktails. Just like at Volta, drinkers will be just as well looked after as diners, courtesy of The Refuge’s well-travelled wine list, local craft beer menu (including their own Volta brew) and incredible cocktails collection.

The soundtrack to The Refuge will be as credible as you might expect from two world class DJs, with friends of the pair dropping in most nights to fill the space with the perfect playlist. Expect higher tempo sounds as the weekend draws in.

Inspiringly simple, the team at The Refuge invite Manchester to just “Come As You Are”.