Food can be a sight to behold if it’s in the right hands, but all that good work can be undone if the atmosphere and service of said eaterie is not on par with the edible goodness that’s on your plate.
A good atmosphere and great service can uplift the whole dining experience. To achieve a balance with all these things is a feat in itself.
Eclectic and welcoming were the first two thoughts to enter my mind when I graced the doorstep of Volta on a balmy Sunday evening. Hungry diners there were aplenty and tables few. The casual demeanour of staff also helped to create a warm ambience.
Volta is just one of the many restaurants and bars squeezed into the main artery of West Didsbury in Manchester. Opened in 2013, by siblings Luke and Justin Unabomber; music and food is what they do well and Volta is just one of the eateries/bars they own in South Manchester.
PARISIEN FEEL: Volta had a continental air about it
The location is as much a part of the ‘parisian’ feel of the place as the decor. It’s was the fusion of styles, mismatched, red wooden chairs, art deco lighting and a big half-circle mirror positioned behind the bar, all combines well and reminds me of an old Parisian painting from many years ago.
Looking around I could see diners seemed relaxed; their half-empty plates was a good sign. Left-over’s were visible on some plates (not many though) and generous portions were still being ferried from the kitchen to hungry mouths.
Sunday night was roast night, but thankfully, the menu was not shy of other options, much to the relief of my dining partner that evening, who is a ‘flexitarian’ friend (someone who chooses whether to eat meat or not depending on its provenance).
PLENTY OF CHOICE: Volta catered for numerous tastes
After a few minutes of trying to gain the waiters attention, it became apparent after a casual chat that he had been working six days straight. ‘It was ‘Glasto weekend’, he said and staffing was low. His tiredness a little apparent, but his enthusiasm soon set in once we began enquiring about the food.
Having seen the large main portion sizes coming from the kitchen, we decided to start off small to leave room for the rest, with a plate of the chicory, orange, pomegranate, ricotta and walnut salad (£5.50) between two.
It was a promising start and refreshingly light to begin with. It’s freshness and colour – mouthwatering just to look at, if just a little on the small side. The crunch of the walnut added the much-needed ‘nutty’ balance to an otherwise delicious dish.
MOUTHWATERING: The ricotta and walnut salad delivered a promising starter
With four generous mains to choose from ranging from £11-14, there was only one vegetarian option, but it was the 28-day aged dexter sirloin beef that stood out for my dining pal and the white wine, roasted poussin, with sausage meat stuffing for me.
Luckily for my ‘flexitarian’ diner, the beef passed the provenance test. Originating from Lancashire taste tradition, a North Yorkshire farming family of three generations, specialising in rare and traditional breed pigs and cattle since 2003.
The poussin, sourced from Udale specialty foods, a brother run company and multi-award winners of the North West fine food awards. I trusted my poussin was in good hands.
BRIMMING WITH FLAVOUR: The main courses went down a treat
During the pleasant, 20 minute wait or so for our food, we supped on a glass of wine each (ranging from £4-6.50). A large glass of rose, tempranillo syrah, dark and dusky pink in colour, bursting with berry flavour and light enough for a summer’s eve. My dining companion chose a small glass of the red tempranillo syrah, which turned out to be a good accompaniment for the beef main.
Our plates arrived, filled to the brim, just as we anticipated. The poussin was roasted to perfection and brimming with juiciness and flavour, accompanied by mango-sized Lancashire puddings on the side and purple, cinnamon infused cabbage, with crunchy, green mangetout.
It was a hearty plate of food, portions suitable for winter when you want comfort food and lots of it, but the sides added colour and freshness, plus the unexpected cinnamon flavour brought that extra sparkle to the plate. It was delicious, but just a hint more seasoning and it would have been a ten out of ten for me.
The ‘flexitarian’ diner was happily tucking in to her medium rare beef, bloody and tender, surrounded by the same generous helping of Lancashire pudding and vegetables. Both plates had great balance of flavour and texture, the fluffiness of Lancashire puds made them an edible delight.
FLAVOURSOME: The pecan and orange pudding hit the spot
We polished off both plates, full to the brim and soaked up the atmosphere until it was time for dessert.
The dessert menu, offered a good variety; a mixture of heavier and lighter choices. We chose the fruitier option to share between two. The vibrant, pecan and orange pudding with vanilla custard looked spongy and inviting.
It was flavoursome, warm and the orange brought a nice ‘zing’ to the dish – a little slice of edible heaven, accompanied by a smooth Americano. It was the perfect food to end the weekend with.