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Dizzy heights

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: May 24, 2012

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THERE aren't many venues in Cornwall that manage to be both sophisticated and a little bit louche.

But Vertigo in Truro, beneath the shadow of the cathedral, is the sort of place you end up sharing a drink, or several, with a cathedral scholar, a person of transgender and a local politician.

And, no, that's not the start of a joke ....

The thinking man and woman's hostelry, Vertigo's plush design ushers you into its own garden of earthly delights at the rear of the property, an al fresco hubbub which has the extra boon of having its own bar.

Offering a wide array of live music and a great new sound system throughout to make the most of the visiting DJs, it's often like being in your very own house party.

Plus, the bar staff are known to don Playboy bunny costumes (all in the name of charity) which has got to be a good thing. I'm not being sexist, the boys have been known to do it too.

I make no bones about being biased, it's long been my choice of gin palace in the city.

But I will readily admit, it has always been let down by its minimal menu – the de rigeur lunches have never been that special and have trailed behind the bar's other glories.

However, all that's changed now owner Caroline Makepeace has found her secret weapon.

Michael Olejniczak trained for five years as a chef in his native Poland before moving to Cornwall where he has previously worked at Indaba in Truro and Indaba On The Beach, Falmouth.

His new lunchtime menu is simple yet highly effective; a mixture of tapas and platters.

I took along the best benchmark I could find – my friend James Walker, alternatively known as the most cynical man in the county of Cornwall.

If there's a fault this man will find it.

Always ready with a rapier retort, he would tell me how it really was at Vertigo.

This is a chap who when told by a woman to be quiet while talking to me at an Eden Sessions concert, turned and said with the air of a noble prince: "I'm sorry, but this isn't Glyndebourne, madam."

So would Vertigo feel the lash of his tongue?

Rather disappointingly, no. We were both very impressed.

We shared a meat platter. It may sound on the steep side at £10 but with a fine and ample selection of Parma ham, chorizo, manchego cheese, dried figs, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a selection of bread, it was the ideal work-break filler and a much-needed continental nod to the slow-dawning summer.

You can also enjoy a single platter for £6.50 and if meat's not your thing, there's an equally good, if not better, cheese platter featuring Cornish yarg, manchego, home-made marinated feta with an excellent tomato and pepper chutney and bread.

To use a technical culinary phrase, it's well tasty.

Still not happy? You're hard to please but the mezze platter with olives, pitta bread, houmos, chorizo and Spanish skewers should do it.

If you want a more traditional lunchtime dish how about tempura prawns with salad and chilli sauce, slow-braised pork belly with new potatoes and salad or smoked salmon with poached eggs on a toasted muffin with chive and lemon mayonnaise? All at the very reasonable £6 mark.

With a range of sandwiches and lighter nibbles (jelly beans and chocolate eggs, anyone? So Vertigo, daahling), there's something for everyone, which is Michael's plan for the menu.

I'll carry on visiting for the odd night-time snifter, but now there's a reason to visit Vertigo during the day. I don't need much of an excuse.

For more details about the food, gigs and more, head to www.vertigo-truro.co.uk

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