Eating Out: Cargo By Vertigo a crowd pleasing place to get back to 'normal'

Cargo, Belfast – pick a table, a cable-car gondola or massive pipe. Picture by Mal McCann
Seamus Maloney

Cargo By Vertigo

Titanic Quarter

Queens Road




EATING Out. Feels good just to see the words next to each other. And this isn’t just Eating Out. This is literally Eating Out. From a time when literally literally meant literally.

We’re here a week since outdoor dining was allowed to resume and the weather has miraculously decided to cooperate for the second weekend in a row. We’ll gloss over the fact it was snowing a few days ago.

Cargo by Vertigo began as a response to the first lockdown, a food and drink offshoot of an adventure park with trampolines, indoor skydiving and a general high concept Saturday night TV sort of vibe – if people falling over qualifies as high concept. It’s got a ‘Ninja Master Course’.

The Cargo bit is outdoors, so when the first al fresco opening of hospitality arrived at the end of last month, you could book your three-hour slot, pick a table or cable-car gondola – safely on the ground – or massive pipe.

Once there it was time to scan QR codes for the menu, download apps to order your drinks and hope the weather doesn’t break.

One day of particularly rough conditions saw it close but at least Cargo was able to make the necessary tweaks to allow it to open at all after Belfast City Council went on a last-minute tour of places and told them they couldn’t open unless they changed set-ups that were perfectly fine under last summer’s outdoor dining regulations.

You pay £25 for three courses but, realistically, your £25 isn’t all for the food. It’s for the space and time to sit with other people who don’t know what the inside of your bubble looks like. It’s a precious commodity.

As such, comparing that £25 for three courses – it’ll set you back £15 at times other than Friday night or Saturday – to ‘normal’ circumstances, or a ‘normal’ restaurant is missing the point. And won’t it be nice to retire the inverted commas you invariably have to surround ‘normal’ with?

So, you will find much better pizzas for the price you’re paying here, and the same goes for desserts. We’ll get to the chicken wings.

But these aren’t the placeholder ‘substantial’ meals that popped up in some pubs when that was made a condition of restrictions lifting last year. They’re better than a Scotch egg and a crisp sandwich – which is no faint praise.

The pizza come out hot and crisp, with the standard margarita – here it’s a ‘Samson’, everything’s very shipyardy – doing the simple job of delivering dough, sauce and cheese perfectly well. Additions to the others – some pepperoni, a vegetarian option of mushrooms and sweetcorn and another of pulled beef with a lick of chipotle sauce – are all just the sort of thing you want to be eating outside with a few drinks and a bit of Spice Girls booming from the speakers.

Desserts are crowd pleasers too, designed to be portioned out with the least possible fuss. So there are a couple of different cheesecakes and a couple of different chocolate cakes. And, like the pizza, they’re carried off well enough.

The cheesecakes actually have a bit of cheesy tang about them, while a warm gluten-free sponge is light with a decent hit of chocolate.

And then there’s the wings. If everything else had been inedible, the wings would have redeemed it all. It’s difficult to think of any sin they couldn’t have redeemed.

Everything needed for chicken wing success is here. Well sauced enough to call for extra napkins, but not so much that it ends up down your front; jointed into the flat and the drum; cooked well with crisp crack giving way to yielding meat; singing with flavour, the classic vinegared tang balanced with buttery richness, the maple bourbon giving sweet smoke without going too far on either count. These were Ninja Master chicken wings.

They were matched by the service, and not just because everyone was running round in black with masks on. Bright, welcoming and friendly, it’s something you perhaps don’t realise how much you miss in a world of takeaways and collections – and not eating out.


Three course menu x5 £125

Peroni x5 £20

Total £145

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