THE WORDS AND SENTIMENTS OF DAVID HEELEY - BROADCASTER | FOOD CRITIC | TRAVEL WRITER

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What they didn’t want you to hear.


There has certainly been some very obviously ups and downs in the Manchester City Centre restaurant scene of late.  Where, paradoxically, the downs are terrific – and the ups less so.

The sub terrain experience that is Australasia may be underground but everything else about this terrific looking restaurant is at the very pinnacle whilst Vertigo, on John Dalton Street, may have a name that implies dizzying heights but I feel it’s got some way to go to achieve this lofty ambition.

The restaurant, of course, was previously Ithaca and even though its decor was very reminiscent of an upmarket, Middle Eastern tarts boudoir, the food was always terrific as was the atmosphere.  Ill-conceived though the venture may have been, as it cost millions to fit out, it glowed briefly before succumbing to the inevitable weight of its accumulated debt.

Now, whilst I outlined the above on my recent appearance on Gourmet Night on BBC Radio Manchester with Matt White, what wasn’t broadcast were some of my more pithy views on its prospect of success.

Several years ago, I initiated something called the Seabass Quotient – to read that article click the following link http://bit.ly/k06xLZ – and the SBQ for Vertigo, is, to say the least, on the perpendicular side of steep.  At just under £20 for a fillet, not a whole fish, then this really is pushing the price envelope.  Add to that fillet steak at just under £30 and you can see that this restaurant is clearly one of the most expensive in Manchester.  Is it worth it?

Well, with the same decor as that “boasted” by Ithaca – save from the fact that the ludicrous seats that used to mean it was impossible to leave your table without asking for the assistance of at least 2 front of house staff – have now been replaced with something a little more compact, the food would have to be as ludicrously good as the decor is bad.

Maybe, whichever unfortunate institution now owns the premises has been keen to rent it out on a peppercorn rent.  If that’s the case it’s not reflected in their menu.

I always say you’ve got to be either very brave or foolhardy to embark upon a restaurant enterprise in a venue that has already failed.  Time will quickly tell which of the above applies.  Will it become a Hitchcock classic like the film of the same name? Or a blood bath at the Bates Motel?

Click here to listen to my views on Vertigo which were broadcast

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