Sister to Chorlton's Elektric and The Refuge in the city centre, Volta is the beautiful West Didsbury restaurant with a big reputation to live up to. Said to be one of the culinary highlights of the leafy suburb, this laid-back, yet cool spot attracts droves of diners. One such foodie? Me, of course. For the indecisive or just plain greedy (guilty as charged), small plates are the way to make sure you get a little taste of everything that catches your eye, so I couldn't wait try out the menu here.
Having been on my list for a while, Volta had me practically galloping to Burton Road when the day of our reservation came. Our first impressions? We were greeted by terrace tables covered with a retractable roof and hanging lights, alongside gold-trimmed signage above Volta's door, which reminded me of a Parisian bistro. Inside, a mustard feature wall lay behind a bar that boasted vintage-look shelves for an array of spirits. Impressed by the look, we settled down in a wooden booth in front of exposed concrete, noting the bustling atmosphere.
As we were feeling right at home, it wasn't long until the drinks were ordered: a spiced pear daiquiri (£9) for him and a Rasmaretto Sour (£9) for me. This latest cocktail list is a winner, featuring twists on classics that made us stop to say, 'oooh, yeah'. My partner's choice wasn't too sweet, had a slight sharpness from its squeeze of lime and a decent kick of spiced rum, while mine was a deliciously fruity version of one of my favourite drinks; both were also wonderfully frothy on top thanks to aqua faba. Consider me impressed.
Now we were even more eager for food. And we were in luck, as our love affair continued across Volta's small plates. First up? Maybe the best halloumi (£7.50) ever. Cooked and drizzled in preserved lemon, urfa chilli and green harissa, this moreish offering only left us wanting more. Then came the charred hispi cabbage (£6.50), which was smothered by rich miso butter for umami, sprinkled with sesame seeds and served alongside punchy black garlic disks. The Japanese-inspired flavours made this humble vegetable a star of the day. Our plant-based pick was Ethiopian berbere spiced black lentils (£5.50), fronting a deep coriander flavour and a spice kick from green chilli shatta - the ideal finish to a fabulous trio.
When it came to our final three dishes, pillowy queen scallops (£8.50) in nduja butter and salsa verde got things off to a flying start; their gentle flavour not being overpowered by the sauce. The lamb shawarma (£11) with sumac-topped yoghurt and harissa was wolfed down too, as we relished getting juicy bits or crispier outer parts across each mouthful. Our favourite of the meat and seafood, though, was the Iberico pork presa (£13), a delightful pairing of tender, seared meat, piquillo peppers, oregano and capers to cut through it all. Mwah.
Volta recommends ordering three or four small plates each, although after scoffing six between the two of us, we were pretty full. There's no skimping on portion sizes here. But, thanks to the fabled pudding stomach, we still had room come dessert. A classic old fashioned (£9.50) was the ideal pairing for my other half's super moist sticky toffee pudding (£6.50), which came accompanied by plenty of salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. To say it went down well is an understatement, with exclamations of 'wicked' - the most in-depth description I've ever had from him at a meal - blurted out between mouthfuls.
My light lemon cheesecake pot with brown butter biscuits (£6), which was like a deconstructed version of the pud, was the refreshingly tasty end to date night I was craving. Not too sweet and citrus-packed, this one reminded me of my mum's lemon meringue pie. To wash it down? The Maria Bueno (£8.50), a strawberry flavoured caipirinha that's perfect during these summer months.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Volta's food and cocktail menus wowed, making it onto the list of our favourite dining destinations ever. While we had a mix of exceptional meat, seafood and vegetable dishes, with dessert making a splash too, I can see Volta being an amazing choice for plant-based folk as well. In short, I have nothing but gushingly good words to say about this restaurant and you can guarantee I'll soon be a regular.
💰 The damage: £100 for food and cocktails.
📍 The location: 167 Burton Road, West Didsbury M20 2LN.
👌 Perfect for: Everything from seasonal cocktails to date nights and group meals - it's just that good.
⭐ Need to know: You can nab 3 small plates for £15 until 5.30pm on weekdays.