Walking along the streets of London, myself and my family had precisely an hour and a half to find a restaurant before we had to catch our train home. It’s so easy to settle for familiarity at a chain that is placed in every city in the UK but sometimes you want to visit somewhere a little bit different and out of your comfort zone but at the same time, affordable. It was by coincidence that we stumbled into this gem on Great Portland Street but on the next occasion it will definitely not be an accident.
Vapiano is home to only four locations in the UK: three in London and one in Manchester, but is spread out across the world from Europe to the U.S.A. It focuses on Italian cuisine made fresh before the eyes of the customer to deliver not just food but a dining experience.
Upon arrival at the restaurant you are given a card to which you order your meals in a way similar to contactless. When you order a meal to the chef, you zap the card onto a reader and the balance is updated so when it comes to paying you simply give the waiter/waitress your card and you pay the balance which you have accumulated. This ensure no accidents have been made to your bill and you can follow the balance as you go. The card is given to your whole party upon arrival so the group receives a card rather than each individual person however I’m sure that if you are with your friends you can ask for a card each to make the bill much easier.
The next step is finding a seat, in the particular chain that I visited there were a range of booths to tables and you can choose wherever you want providing that it is available. One drawback that I found from this method is that one person must be occupying your table at a time so you may have to take it in turns to order a pizza/ pasta. In terms of ordering a pizza you just order from a range on the menu and once you have gone up to order you just sit down, collecting your pizza once the buzzer has gone off. However, if you are ordering pasta, you choose while it’s being made what kind of pasta you want in the dish, seasoning, vegetables, extra cheese… so you must remain at the serving station while the chef makes your bowl of perfection in front of you.
The dish that I ordered was called “GRANCHI DI FIUME” which consisted of crayfish, fresh vegetables and lobster sauce. Personally, I found the prices extremely modest for the quality in which you receive and there is something there for all palettes, from: Bolognese and Carbonara to Estiva and Salmone. But that is only the pasta section. Their main areas of expertise are: antipasti, pasta and risotto, pizza and dolci (dessert). The pizzas looked as if they had been served straight out of a pizzeria from Italy, made in a wood-stoned oven and were also incredibly affordable amongst the market containing Pizza Express and Ask Italian.
The ambience of the restaurant was welcoming but at the same time chic. You could walk in wearing jeans and a t-shirt but not feel out of place dressed up. However, the hindrance and positive of this place is the amount of locations in the UK. I would not like to see it placed among the many well-known chains in my local shopping centre which could take away the charm that it currently holds but it may be a while until I can visit again but one thing is for sure, it’s certainly worth the wait.