Friday, 28 April 2017

The Refuge by Volta Oxford Street Manchester 27th April 2017

The Refuge by Volta is in The Principal Hotel a magnificent iconic Grade II listed building, dating back to 1890, when it opened as The Refuge Assurance Company.

The Refuge is a cool bar and dining room, serving cocktails, small plates and sharing dishes from around the world.

I enquired as to vegan options, with some confusion initially, but after a chat with the Restaurant Manager, I booked a table for dinner.   I was interested to hear, that he considered the menu light on vegan dishes and was hoping to extend their options, at the end of the meal, I would say this is badly needed.

We had drinks in the spacious bar first, which has an outside area, with a room called The Winter Gardens to sit in and an area for playing pool and table football.   The place is so huge that no one area, impinges on another.

We went through to the restaurant, after having a drink in the bar and were shown to a lovely table in a booth, great for people watching.  

We ordered a very nice bottle of Quinta Milu La Cometa Ribera Del Duero wine from Spain, a top quality vegan wine.

Our waitress Lauren gave us menus and then another lady came over to ask about my vegan pre-order and then another waitress brought some olives to the table and here began some confusion.

Several waiters appeared with other plates, as part of a vegan tasting menu, so I explained that I had only pre-ordered mutabal and flatbread, so chef could omit the sour cream.   I think there was a communication problem and all the dishes I had suggested could be veganised, had been made.   However Steven who is not vegan felt obliged to help me out, as it was a banquet, so he only ordered one dish for himself.

 Fattoush salad

 Mutabal and flatbread


 Broccolini with breadcrumbs

 Fennel and pear salad

 Volanic tomato salad

 Radicchio and orange salad with orange blossom

I failed to take individual photos of some of the food, but there was also padron peppers and some other bread, with what we thought was quince jelly.

We had to leave some of the food, there was far too much and I was worried about the cost.   However Lauren, having spoken to the Manager on duty, said that they would knock the food off the bill, which we protested about, as we had eaten a fair bit, but they insisted.

Would I return to The Refuge, for a drink definitely, but based on their current veganised food options, basically salad or vegetables, most of it cold, with no protein source, no I would not.   The food tasted okay, was seasoned and presented nicely, I loved the peppers and the mutabal, but it all lacked imagination or creativity and took me back to dining out thirty years ago, when no-one knew what to feed a vegan.

Service however, throughout the night, was brilliant, what a friendly and professional team, special thanks to Lauren and Matt.

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