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Vertigo Restaurant Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield encounters a very fine deal indeed

Published on October 1st 2012.

Vertigo Restaurant Reviewed

THIS visit was Jack Spratt's loss.

The edgy little place on John Dalton Street was supposed to be the destination but shouted me out. The place was full on a Thursday lunchtime but I wanted a chat with a friend and the music was way too loud.

I turned on my heel and looked across the road.

Vertigo was in plain sight and also had an attractive menu for an attractive sum of money on display. True they didn't have burgers, the object of the Jack Spratt visit for our Best of Manchester Burgers article, but at ten quid for two courses it wooed me.

The Vertigo Lunch MenuThe Vertigo Lunch Menu

Vertigo was formerly Ithaca restaurant, a singular exercise in preposterous vanity from 2008, that somehow began life providing some of the best food in the North West until the chef cracked and ran.

Vertigo is a much more solid operation, although there are echoes of its Hollyoaks starlet days.

The Ithaca wallpaper remains. This looks and feels like shiny silver pebbledash while the aggressive lampshades - to continue the Ithaca Greek mythology theme - hang over heads like little swords of Damocles about to plunge. Other fixtures and fittings echo those heady days of wine and coke (Coca-Cola of course, what else?).

Vertigo outside, frightening lamp fittings insideVertigo outside, frightening lamp fittings inside

From the lunch menu we had the salmon and 'heritage' tomato starters followed by the steak frite and the pork main. If the steak had been properly medium rare as requested there would have literally nothing to put a downer on proceedings. 

A heritage tomato is a tomato grown exclusively within the walls of ruined castles, taverns, bordellos and monasteries. It only ever talks in latin.

I'm lying. They're nothing of the above, instead they are an 'open-pollinated (non-hybrid) heritage cultivar of tomato'. In otherwords they can be lots of different colours other than red and they're less sweet.

I loved my heritage dish, the tomatoes were stubborn but delicious, offering succulent juice boosted by a combination of breaded and fried mozarella and basil. The picture of this simple glory lies above at the top of the page and below. I crave those tommies now. The snap of teeth through the skin, the burst of flavour.

Tomatoes of many coloursTomatoes of many colours

The salmon was prepared as well, and perfectly decent with good sauce for moisture and watercress adding bite and definition. My dining partner snaffled this and the steak frites to follow. As noted above the steak frites failed in terms of being cooked as requested but was fine enough given the price, the frites impressed with correct crispiness. The 'sun-blushed tomato butter' would be better separated from the meat rather than draped over it.


I adored my old spot pork chops with crushed potato and gooseberries. The latter word throws me back to being a small kid in the garden and finding these tempting but bitter berries hanging out under a hawthorn hedge. Love them used as a sauce especially with pork. That's a marriage made in heaven. The crushed potato was a little on the unyeilding side but since I was lost in delight with the pork and gooseberries that didn't really register. 

Pork and gooseberryPork and gooseberry

That this clever little meal cost us just £20 was a bonus. Shame we didn't have time to dally for a pudd. The options include blueberry streusel, raspberry mousse and a cheeseboard. The three course menu is £14. 

A cheeky class of Torrontes from Argentina, the Piuquenes, at £6.75 for a large glass didn't go amiss on our visit. Service was good throughout. 

It's curious to name a restaurant after a phobia, maybe the owners are Alfred Hitchcock fans? But the fine lunch certainly encouraged a repeat visit in the evening for the full a la carte. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield


Vertigo, 36 John Dalton Street, City, M2 6LE. .  

Rating: 13/20 

Food: 7/10
Service: 3.5/5
Ambience: 2.5/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

Steak friteSteak frite

Part of the wine listPart of the wine list

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42 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousOctober 1st 2012.

Was this on the ground floor or upstairs? They had a sign up the other day saying they were refurbing in order to switch the bar and restaurant. Need to go in and take a look.

pollolocoOctober 1st 2012.

what's a Streusal??

2 Responses: Reply To This...
woksmugglerOctober 2nd 2012.

a streusel is a crumbly topping made from butter, sugar and flour atop either a pie or a cake. Had some lovely apfel streusal in Austria a few years back. Google it - loads of recipes.

woksmugglerOctober 2nd 2012.

sorry - streusel - was looking at original post! Oooops

bigearsOctober 1st 2012.

I heard it was closing due to lack of £ and customers

14 Responses: Reply To This...
Wall-EOctober 1st 2012.

Just launched new menu so I would be surprised.

AVoOctober 2nd 2012.

Big ears, you need to clean your ears out. They've just undergone a refurbishment and as WALL-E says above, a new menu has been launched so Vertigo isn't closing any time soon.

bigearsOctober 2nd 2012.

oh, not what i heard from 2 chefs that used to work there and left recently! Well see how long it lasts if it does reopen, ill give it till just after christmas

TimbucOctober 2nd 2012.

So two chefs that used to work there and don't any more said it was going under? Who'd have thunk?

bigearsOctober 2nd 2012.

sorry i didnt make it clear, they were made redundant

AVoOctober 2nd 2012.

So two disgruntled chefs who have left the venue are spreading rumours that this place is closing?

Well it isn't.

It has re-opened so there are no ifs about that either.

bigearsOctober 2nd 2012.

do you work for them then avo??

AVoOctober 2nd 2012.

No I don't work for Vertigo but I'm far better placed than you to make an informed decision as to whether the venue will continue trading or not.

bigearsOctober 2nd 2012.

didn't know that you knew anything about me? somehow, i think not

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2012.

I was just discussing the changes made at Vertigo with the owner last night.

If you're that well in with Vertigo, ask the management team / owner for my phone number and we can discuss the restaurant's future in private. I'm readily identifiable by my username.

AnonymousOctober 3rd 2012.

Still waiting for your call BIGEARS. There are interesting developments afoot at Vertigo. Would love for you to tell me about them.

bigearsOctober 4th 2012.

we'll see what happens :) promise i wont say i told you so

AVOOctober 4th 2012.

I know what's going to happen. I think we both know that nothing much can be said on here...

NickJanuary 22nd 2013.

What happened in the end!?

food for thoughtOctober 1st 2012.

Where is the steak?

AnonymousOctober 1st 2012.

Went there 28th Sept for dinner and it was a catalogue of errors. Two sandwich muffins fresh from their tesco cellophane masquerading as a "bread basket", prissy and argumentative service, filthy toilets and no ambiance.
Can't believe it's the same place. Either I had a uniquely dreadful experience or they saw you coming...

1 Response: Reply To This...
MaggieOctober 2nd 2012.

You must have had a bad day! I've been many times to Vertigo and never been disappointed. The lunch menu is good value and quality, the al a carte is great and the tasting menu is sublime. I have always found the service impeccable and no (yawn) I don't work there

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2012.

You actually cease to amaze me!! Your reviews are getting less and less credible as time goes on!! I agree vertigo has a very good deal and I am not slating vertigo in the slightest but let's just look at how little attention to detail you have paid in this review. LOOK AT THE STATE OF THAT STEAK!!! The meat looks completely overcooked, sauce slopped on top and chips anaemic. You should not call yourself a food critic, find another career!

1 Response: Reply To This...
James KayOctober 2nd 2012.

Read it again, Anon, he said that the sauce would be better served separately and that it was overcooked but added that it wasn't bad for the price. As for the frites, surely just a personal opinion (or maybe cooked in fresh, clean oil).

James KayOctober 2nd 2012.

A 'clever little meal' with 'literally nothing to put a downer on proceedings' but get's a score of 'if you're passing' because of the lamp shades??

I know that you've discussed it many times before, but the score for ambience definitely needs looking at again.

BaggioOctober 2nd 2012.

'formally'!!! call yourself a journalist!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoOctober 2nd 2012.

Baggio, he doesnt...

GordoOctober 2nd 2012.

Neither do I... ;-)

AndyOctober 2nd 2012.

I will never enter this place, the staff are very rude and the food not quality. In order to survive with the comprtition in town they need a new ball game.

TopchefOctober 2nd 2012.

Food and service was ok last time my wife and I ate there!

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2012.

The chateaubriand there is pretty darn good, much better than that steak looks :S

David HopkinsOctober 2nd 2012.

My wife and I went to Vertigo once; It was enough, I'll never go back. It was dreadful. Poor service and rude staff. Can't comment on the food as we left after waiting over an hour for our pre booked table, and 45 minutes for the starter to arrive after that!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 2nd 2012.

If you can't comment on the food as you had left after waiting for a table, how did you know how long the starters took to arrive?

David HopkinsOctober 4th 2012.

We waited for, and ate the starters, and left after that. Wouldn't be so bold as to comment on the food without having had a full meal.

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2012.

I took my mother for lunch at Vertigo last week - on the same menu as the reviewer it seems - and it was pretty good. Given the price, I'd say it was excellent value for money.

We've been before and this visit was probably the best food-wise. Staff were fine - though the poor gal sat near the door looked a bit forlorn.

PS anonymous again as ManCon login STILL doesn't always let me log in - please sort it out!!!

Jonathan SchofieldOctober 2nd 2012.

Baggio, Roberto, I honestly am not a journalist. Really in no way - although the spelling has been corrected - but this meal was good. Shame about '94 eh?

1 Response: Reply To This...
BaggioOctober 3rd 2012.

couldn't help it. had diana ross on my mind.

MagurdracOctober 24th 2012.

They seem to have removed the a la carte menu as of last week and just gone with the bar and grill... very strange.

bigearsOctober 29th 2012.

Anon and avo don't like to boast but i told you so :)

AnonymousOctober 29th 2012.

Went to Vertigo on Friday and had one of the most disappointing experiences I have ever had at a restaurant. Not only were we sitting pretty much in the dark (we asked 4 times for our candle to be lit) our wine (white) was served warm. We were handed a bar menu when we sat down, the A la carte was apparently changed last week (although it's still on the website). We were therefore offered a "beefed up" mezze platter in replacement for a pretty piss poor bar menu (as we have dietary requirements), which turned out to consist of a few olives, some tasteless hummus, a pita, roasted peppers and haloumi..for near off £15!. We ordered a salad, which was nice. And some chips which turned up about 15 mins after the salad and were not even cooked. Oh, and we weren't given plates. We felt it appropriate to complain and our mezze, chips and Salad (half eaten) were taken away, to be replaced with the same mezze (with bigger slices of peppers), the salad never returned and neither did the chips. Time to leave we thought, but no, they presented us with a 50% bill. However, apparently we should have been told at the door that the pin machine was down and it was cash only payments (dubious). I said we were not told this and offered them the tenner in my pocket and left. Wish we have read the trip advisor on this place before we went, as we would have totally avoided it. Safe to say we will not be going back.

AnonymousOctober 29th 2012.

Sure you wont be as its now closed

Dan O'tooleOctober 29th 2012.


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