Jonathan Schofield sings for his supper in a sweet and simple new vegan spot

Sing a song of Vertigo, a pocket full of rye,

Four and twenty black beans baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened the beans began to sing,                                                                                    

"What a very scrumptious, sustainable thing." 

Vertigo made me jolly. It made me rhyme.

It’s a sweet and simple concept riding the vegan wave like an agile surfer. Actually no, that’s wrong, given the previous foodie occupants of this site, all of which have failed.

Veganism in 2019 is neither a marginal philosophy, nor a faddie-thing for models, nor a youthful protest, nor an environmental fanaticism, but a mainstream, here to stay, high street-occupying food choice that has escaped its sackcloth and ashes past.

Even if you are meat fiend who never stops gnawing at flesh skewers, try this place and float away pleasantly full

I used to imagine veganism looking exactly like Jeremy Corbyn, now it looks like that glowing vegan couple Miley Cyrus and her hubby, Thor’s brother. 

Veganism is out and proud and the endless stream of customers flowing in and out of Vertigo is proof of the diary-free pudding.

2019 02 26 Vertigo Exterior
Vertigo opened on Cross Street in December

The restaurant-cafe is on Cross Street in the Royal Exchange building and sports an interior as clean as a nun’s dreams and as fresh as a daisy; tiles, comfy seats, pale shades and plants, naturally. The service is youthful and full of smiles. The food editor of Manchester Confidential will fume that it calls itself an ‘eaterie’, as she has an irrational hatred of the word, just as she has of mallards.

The menu is almost as petit as the venue itself but there’s plenty of grist to grind in every dish. The burger (£6) is a case in point with a ‘plant made patty’ inside a pretzel bun, some bold gherkins and a sweet thousand island sauce. My turn now. I have an irrational hatred of the word ‘patty’: it seems so twee, childish and also, somehow, obscene. Saying that this was a good non-meat burger, full of flavour and very full of ‘plant’ while holding its looks. It’s a steal at £6 too, £5 to take away, so probably within the budget of most nearby office workers.

2019 02 26 Vertigo Burger
The burger (£6) - I wish they hadn’t called it a 'cheezeburger’

I wish they hadn’t called it a quarter pound ‘cheezeburger’ though. That title reaches back to the sackcloth and ashes days of calling veggie dishes after meat dishes, giving them ludicrous names such as nut cutlets. It’s back to knackered old Jeremy Corbyn. It’s a weak device that screams of a lack of confidence. Just like Jezza. The same goes for the ‘mozziserella’ dish which sounds like the stage name for a cross-dressing Morrissey playing a glass-slippered panto dame.

Better than the burger, but only just, was the Persian stew (£7 in, £6 out) which formed a healthy collation of slow-cooked aubergines, rice, yoghurt, salad and ‘sumac’ kale crisps. Sumac is a spice from the Middle East, which possibly explains the Persian name on this dish. The whole formed a proper stew though, filling and appealing with a nice little kick and the cooling yoghurt.

2019 02 26 Vertigo Persian Stew
Persian stew (£7) with slow-cooked aubergines, rice, yoghurt, salad and ‘sumac’ kale crisps

I had a lovely Mancoco roasted coffee (£2.40) on the first visit and a berry-go-round (£4.50) on the second. Mancoco coffee is roasted in a railway arch café on Hewitt Street close to HOME arts centre and is easily the best coffee in town: seek it out. The smoothie was suitably fruity.

Vertigo is a good addition to the casual dining scene in Manchester. I say, even if you are meat fiend, who never stops gnawing at flesh skewers in Fazenda, try this place, tuck in and float away pleasantly full, feeling you’ve done your bit. Vertigo occupies a safe height for aficionados and the curious alike.

Vertigo, 18 Cross St, Manchester, M2 7AE

Follow @JonathSchofield on Twitter.

  • Food 6.5/10

    Burger 6, stew 7

  • Service 3/5

    Very pleasant and easy goes it

  • Ambience 3/5

    As clean as a nun’s dreams