Vapiano Restaurant — A review
I am not a big fan of “concept” restaurants. I often feel that the concept is just that and that they don’t really work for the customer. So when I heard about Vapiano Restaurant being huge in Europe it felt like a concept restaurant. Pasta made in front of you and you had to queue to order? I have been in restaurants where they claim to make it all on the premises and you just know it has arrived frozen and they have reheated it in front you, pretending to make it from scratch.
Turns out I couldnt have been more wrong.
We arrived starving having just spent two hours wandering around nearby Borough Market and were greeted by the manager with a cheerful hello and an explanation of how the restaurant works. Each adult (or bill payer) is given a card which you present having ordered your food. So if you are in a crowd it is great, there is not arguing over splitting the bill and who had what. You have your own card.
First stop was the bar. Lots of beer on draught (so what it was lunchtime, it was a Saturday and you can’t beat a cold Peroni), wine and soft drinks for the teens. And not at ridiculous prices. I get fed up with paying more for a pint of Coke than a pint of beer.
But Vapiano is all about the food. Oh the food. Fresh pasta and pizzas. And when I say fresh. I mean fresh. As in all made on the premises. That day. Their pasta has a shelf life of a day and you can watch it being made on a machine specially commissioned for them. As you can the pizzas. Sauces and salad dressings are also made on the premises. I don’t think I have ever seen a restaurant be so passionate about their ingredients being this fresh.
You simply go up to the counter, tell them what you would like and it is all made right in front of you. You can either stand and watch, or they can give you a pager and you can go back to your table. Separate counters for salad / antipasti / pasta / pizza so there is never a queue.
The food was fabulous. We shared two enormous antipasti salads that would have done us for a whole meal had we not arrived quite so hungry. E and Mr B had enormous pizzas, J and I had pasta (he had spaghetti bolognese, I had ravioli). All were superb.
We were amazed at how busy it was for a Saturday lunchtime in a part of London that isn’t really “that” popular. The day before they had served over 1000 people which sort of floored me. Busy with families, young couples, a table of four ladies in their sixties, there was a real buzz about the place. Towards the back there is an area with comfy sofas and chairs that was full of people enjoying just a coffee, a catch up, or a bowl of pasta. In the evening they have a fire place too that gives a different feeling to the place, making it more cosy and a great place to go for a drink. Huge floor to ceiling windows on two sides meant it was light and airy, even on a miserable day when it was barely above freezing outside.
The service was great and the staff couldnt have done more to look after us. Even boxing up (in specially made plastic tubs) our left overs.
I must also mention the olive tree. I despise olives. But I love the fact that every Vapiano restaurant has a live tree growing IN the restaurant.
We will definitely be back. Our total bill for starters and main courses (and somebody may have had a cheeky Tiramisu) and drinks was around £20 a head.
Oh and talking of puddings, they do small and large portions so should you only want a mouthful or just something sweet because you can’t quite fit a whole pudding in, they can do that. Though this concept about small puddings is a step too far for me.
Image of pasta, courtesy of Shutterstock