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Inside Vertigo – the new home of plant-based dining on First Street


Vertigo’s Cross Street site has only been open a short while, but they’re already expanding.

The hit vegan eatery has proven so popular, in fact, they’ve just opened up a second unit on First Street after being forced to turn customers away from the original site on weekends.

They’ve moved into the old Kettlebell Kitchen unit on Jack Rosenthal Street and have brought the aesthetics of the original site along with them – hanging greenery and all.

There’s that signature counter with its white tiles and black grouting. The same crushed velvet chairs in dusky ‘millennial pink’ and bluey charcoal grey. And touches of olive green on deep-set booths, back of house doors and staff aprons.

They’ve really nailed the consistency on the design front. It’s beautiful.

A synthetic ‘living wall’ adds an injection of green. Out of it peeks neon lettering, also in green, proudly proclaiming ‘100% plantbased.’

There’s room for 45 covers inside, and plenty of space at the counter for office workers to grab and go. To the left, raised seating offers a perch whilst you wait.

Plans for the new site include the addition of a natural wine bar, a larger plant-based menu and new grab-and-go offerings for office workers.

Owner Michael Jebelli hopes to add a Sunday roast offering once the new restaurant gets off the ground.

But, right now, they’re just settling in.

For the meantime, you can still find all the Vertigo favourites. In fact, the menus for both sites are identical (we checked), minus a new Saturday brunch menu that runs here between 12-5pm.

We order a few items – the ever-popular cheezeburger and chips, a Reuben bagel and a mix of salads – to see how it comes to the original. It’s spot on.

For a pair of meat-eaters eating a meatless burger, we’re surprised at how Vertigo’s cheezeburger blows us away.

For one, it tastes exceptionally meaty. And the texture’s there too. A soft bun, squish of cheeze and burger sauce and a soft acidity from the pickles, add to the magic.

The ‘chips’, however, come cold and soft. Not what we were expecting.

The Reuben comes out hot, ‘buttery’ and charred in all the right places. It’s filled with peppered tempeh (in lieu of corned beef or pastrami), shredded sauerkraut, melted cheeze, gherkins and mustard ‘mayo’ but it’s the pickles that make it.

If the tempeh wasn’t there, it wouldn’t be missed.

A selection of salads adds some much-need lightness to our carb-heavy cheeze fest. Broccolini coated in sesame seeds is a hit.

Cherry tomatoes, meanwhile, fly across the table as we attempt to spear them with our forks. The sweet potato, whilst lovely, ends up slightly neglected.

Last but not least, we must talk about the bakes.

Fortunately, sugar is vegan. Butter isn’t, granted, but there are plenty of good oil substitutes out there. We each take a lemon and raspberry sponge with us to go, and, again, find ourselves impressed.

What is interesting about the opening of Vertigo, specifically here in Kettlebell’s old unit, is how it shows the evolution of the health food trend here in Manchester.

The dirty burger craze of 2015 doesn’t feel that far away, and yet we’ve come so far since.

If Kettlebell was the beta test for the city’s adoption of the clean eating trend, then Vertigo must be the gamma.

With mayonnaise without eggs, burgers without meat and cheeze without, well, cheese, this is health food 2.0. Welcome to the future.

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