Review – Restaurant Tasting Event – Vapiano – London
Recently I attended a tasting at Vapiano in London. I like Italian cuisine so I was surprised I had not heard of Vapiano before. Especially when I discovered there are 120 restaurants around the world with more in development. You may recall I recently went to Tortilla and whilst there was introduced to a new idea in restaurant service. Vapiano works the same way. The only difference is that at Vapiano you get given a ‘card’ by the server at the entrance which you use to order your food and then also serves as your bill at the end of your meal.
Vapiano was established in 2002 in Hamburg, Germany. Since its inauguration it has quickly expanded around the globe as a successful chain and franchise. The concept is simple, fresh food made on the premises throughout the day and dishes made to order in front of the customer. Dough, pasta, sauces, bread et al are all made on-site with other ingredients as locally sourced as possible. The restaurant area is filled with long oak tables and benches providing a relaxed and open atmosphere. What I particularly liked were the pots of fresh herbs down the middle of the tables. A lovely idea that lends itself to the environment and along with the rest of the décor provides a great space to unwind and enjoy yourself for a while.
Upon entering the restaurant, as I stated previously, you are given a card to order your food with. After you have decided what to eat you go to the appropriate station where the chef will make your dish to order in front of you. The food is added to your card and you take this, along with your food, to your table. A full bar service is available too. When it’s time to leave you present your card to the cashier where they will add it up and give you your final tally.
The food at Vapiano’s is not your typical Italian restaurant in the UK. Many large chains tend to drown their pasta in sauces and serve up great chunks of pizza where the dough is so thick you cant really taste the ingredients. You know where I’m talking about. That being said because each dish is made in front of you if you want extra sauce or ingredients etc all you have to do is ask – it is your dish after all.
My evening visit coincided with a very busy service but even so the staff were on top form and very attentive. We started with a selection of salads from the specials board all of which were very tasty and where I also tried my first green tomatoes. Next were several pasta dishes including the Pasta Carbonara, Pasta Scampi e Spinaci and Pasta Arrabiata. ( I should add here that with the pasta dishes you also get to choose which type of pasta you would like) You could certainly taste that the pasta was very recently made, nothing like your supermarket ‘fresh’ pasta. It was al dente with a nice bite to it and the selection of accompanying sauces had something to tempt all tastebuds. The pizzas were next to arrive and were delicious but by this time I was getting pretty full and there was still dessert to come! My personal favourite from the pizza menu is the green pesto pizza, just delicious. Make sure to look out too for the folded pizza with a whole mozzarella ball inside. It’s worth getting just for the fresh mozzarella (definetly the best mozzarella I have ever had, I shall be after the suppliers name).
Last but not least we tried a selection of the desserts. Tiramisu, Prosecco Jelly, Rice Pudding with raspberries and a Panna Cotta. Needless to say the Tiramisu didn’t last long, I thought I was full but when that creamy, chocolaty, coffee concoction came out I couldn’t help myself, it was wolfed down quick smart. A surprisingly resounding success around the table was the rice pudding, yes, really! Of course there are many dishes for you to choose from, you can check out the menu online by clicking on the link below.
The menu is the same in each restaurant, making sure you have a reliable, consistent choice no matter where you are and the specials are changed every 2 months. As written earlier a full bar is available, with well-made cocktails too, and once you have finished you can adjourn with your friends to the seating area to hang out for a while. All in all I had a wonderful evening trying out a new place and can’t wait for their 3rd London restaurant to open in December. I can’t tell you where it is yet, I’m sworn to secrecy, but I’ll let you know when I can.