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Raleigh: Vertigo at Lunch


wcmckinney
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As it's about lunch time, and I am about to go there for the second time in a week, I thought I would ask if anyone else has tried the Vertigo Diner at lunch? www.vertigodiner.com may be the hardest simple website to search, but the lunch menu is more or less of Oaxaca; a -- surprise -- funky departure for the funky diner. I have not had a ring pop in my taquito yet, but my sense is that the restaurant has turned the menu over to the line cooks for lunch. I think Greg Cox wrote recently about the lunch menu in the N&0, which was my tip off.

Regardless, I'ld be keen to know what others have thought of it...

William McKinney aka "wcmckinney"
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While Vertigo Diner looks good from the small amount of information I was able to locate, I hope the food is better and more comprehensible than their website ... :unsure:

could it be any more confusing?? :rolleyes:

Looking forward to your post on this place! Please take notes for us here ...

Edited by Gifted Gourmet (log)

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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William, perhaps we should go there for lunch tomorrow instead of the Roast Grill for "hot weiners"? (no, folks, it's just a hot dog place!

The Vertigo has always held a soft spot in my heart, as I've had plenty of good meals there over the years, and some incredible cocktails as well. Anyone who can come up with a drink named "37, Really?" in honor of Kevin Smith's Clerks deserves a special mention in my book.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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I am more than happy to pull the Trifecta at Vertigo's for Lunch this week, noon still ok Varmint? it might help me even out my opinion of the lunch offerings. Monday was awesome, Wednesday I was a little less pleased.

First I should note (and have been in correspondence with Food & Wine Mag. about this very topic) that the drinks at Vertigo at night are surreal. Twizzelers and funky glasses, I sometimes wonder if they are actively encouraging underage high school drinkers...Perhaps that's another reason for me to hang out there :shock:

:biggrin:

The chips and salsa are my first point: On monday they were flour and homemade. The flour and puffed out in the frier and gave them a texture closer to puri or a popusa, than a regular tortilla chip. Once you bit in to them, you could use the chip as something like a vessel for the purred roasted salsa...note: it is closer to a puree or bisque than a salsa as you might think of it.

Today: Tortilla chips straight out of a bag accompanied the salsa. I should have stopped at a corner store and bought some Tostitos because they would have been better than the Utz or Snyder's chip that they were serving. The waitress just shrugged off my querry that they didn't have enough time to prep the chips today....Note: I do like the typical sassyness/feigned indifference of the waitstaff at Vertigo; adds to the charm, and another analogy to Vertigo's evocation of high school for me.

Monday: No Horchata. Today: Bottomless glass of horchata. It was subtle and just a little sweet, with a hint of spice. I liked it and drank my $1.50 worth.

Monday: Specials besides what was on the menu. I had the chicken taquitos which were robust and good. Guacamole though left something to be desired.

Today: No specials, but I did have the Tilapia Fish Tacos. The fish was great! Fresh, well prepared and it stood up to some very good guacamole and fresh pico de gallo. The black beans were boss, complex and rich without being gooey...HOWEVER the salad that accompanied was OBVIOUSLY....OBVIOUSLY out of the bag. Cut up iceberg with red cabbage and dried out carrot slivers is not my idea of a salad, even though it says salad on the front of the bag. How they can put that roughage on the same plate as fish, tortillas, beans, and guac that was so good is a mystery.

When I was in high school I would wonder why a teacher would not teach us one day/week, and she would just sit there playing solitaire while our papers gathered dust. Sometimes that teacher would be very profound and teach me things that I came to really appreciate (the importance of multilateralism and cognizance of imperalism's often foolhardiness...for example). I guess I didn't appreciate that the teachers were people too and that consistency is difficult to achieve. The same is true for Vertigo.

Maybe I will take my prom date there for dinner.

William McKinney aka "wcmckinney"
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  • 2 months later...

I believe the name is Poole's Diner which, as Dean notes, is the name of the lunch counter that used to be there. Not sure about the story but the departure of the Vertigo was noted awhile back in the N&O with a projected opening of Poole's in early September. Truthfully, I hope the owners are other than the last iteration of Vertigo--unfortunately, I am still trying to get the bad taste out of my mouth from the rancid salad dressing I had during my last meal there in July. It is a real shame to have such a bad last memory of Vertigo.

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  • 1 month later...

Poole's is now open

Just wanted to update this post to say that Poole's Diner has been open for lunch for awhile now and I had a chance to check it out a couple of days ago. While I welcome the expanding lunch options in downtown Raleigh, I am sorry to say I found my experience at Poole's "whelming" at best. The menu is pretty broad with a lot of typical diner fare and "blueplate specials." For example, they have meatloaf and mashed potatoes, burgers, tuna melts, club sandwich, fries and onion rings, milkshakes, etc. They also appear to have a fair number of vegetarian options including a vegetable plate, vegetarian meatloaf, grilled pimento cheese, salads, etc. There are also a few mexican options including a taco salad that looked good at the table across from me. We had a party of three--one tuna melt, one turkey / club sandwich, and one vegetable plate. Although we all thought the food was OK, it was not anything particularly great and it's hard to justify spending $8 or $9 on a vegetable plate for just ok vegetables, particularly if you have to walk by Joe's Mom's Place to get there. I got the roasted turkey / club sandwich on white bread with chips and it was around $8. Again, although good, it wasn't worth that price. I really wanted a grilled pimento cheese sandwich that day but it was $6+--that just seems like too much to pay for a grilled cheese sandwich when fries cost extra. While I appreciate the retro atmosphere and food options but if they can throw in a Taco Salad anachronism, couldn't they offer whole wheat or some other form of bread for their deli sandwiches other than just white bread? Also, how many people these days are in the mood to polish off a diner lunch with a butter pecan shake?

Service was ok, could have been faster for a downtown lunch spot though considering what we ordered. Atmosphere was nice. As best I recall, the furnishings are largely the same as Vertigo, they still have a good counter space for but they've repainted and added old b&w photos of the original spot and other period pieces.

I understand ownership is the same as Vertigo which leads me to believe greater things are possible. I hope that turns out to be the case but unless something changes--lower prices or higher quality food--I'm afraid the new iteration may not fare much better than Vertigo which apparently closed because of declining business. I will certainly go back and try a burger or special or two on occassion but it's hard to justify the trip and the cost on a frequent basis. I would be interested on others' thoughts.

Edited by Guilty Gourmand (log)
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I have been to Poole's twice so far and agree with some of your assessment, but I do think it is perfect for that area. Yes, the food can be up and down and yes, it can be pricey for a tuna melt or grilled cheese. I would recommend some of the "farmhouse" selections, especially the chicken pot pie. The pie has a nice flakey crust and is huge for the price. Also, you must try the macaroni and cheese. It is creamy, slightly spicey, and delicious.

The reason why Poole's will do well is the clientel it is catering towards. Lunch: Business crowd (price is not important, just happy to have somewhere other than Sam and Wally's to walk to). Dinner: Rockers and artists - Last time I was in there the place was about 75% full and more than half of the crowd were musicians that hang out next door at Kings. Tell me a better 2am meal for a crowd that has been rocking out all night then pot roast w/ mac & cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a $1.25 Shlitz can. Maybe not for all, but I like Poole's atmosphere and the mac & cheese, so I'm sure I will be back.

I believe the name is Poole's Diner which, as Dean notes, is the name of the lunch counter that used to be there.  Not sure about the story but the departure of the Vertigo was noted awhile back in the N&O with a projected opening of Poole's in early September.  Truthfully, I hope the owners are other than the last iteration of Vertigo--unfortunately, I am still trying to get the bad taste out of my mouth from the rancid salad dressing I had during my last meal there in July.  It is a real shame to have such a bad last memory of Vertigo.

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Chops,

Thanks for your comments. I am glad to hear from others that have sampled a larger variety. I do look forward to returning and trying a few more options. I cannot comment on how it's doing at night but I really hope they do well. My concerns are based on being there at 12:30 for lunch on nice Friday afternoon when the place was not even 1/3 full at any point during our lunch. I really want to like Poole's and want it to succeed but I remain concerned. If Vertigo couldn't make it, can Poole's pull it off as I found my meal did not match up to the old Vertigo and cost just as much if not more. Contrary to what one might conclude given the success of Cafe Carolina, I'm afraid money is a concern to much of the lunch crowd. I'll visit Poole's again and report back after trying the mac-n-cheese.

Edited by Guilty Gourmand (log)
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