Last Friday I was lucky enough to be invited to sample the food at Vapiano's on Great Portland St. It had been on my list of places to eat out, for almost a year now - I just never got around to visiting. I knew Vapiano's was an Italian restaurant but I had no clue how different it was going to be, compared to most Italian places.
WARNING!!!!! You will encounter some food porn in approximately 3 minutes..
So how does Vapiano's work?
When you arrive you will be given your Vapiano's card (this is your life, do not lose it). You use your card to order your food from all the different stations inside the restaurant. Vaps (as I like to call it) uses a self serve service, however waiters/waitresses will bring you drinks if you ask. You order your chosen food from the individual stations & this is where your food is made for you. Yes - you read that correctly.. Your food is prepared in front of your very own eyes with fresh, flavoursome ingredients. Vaps even makes its very own egg free pasta!
The pasta, the sauces, the pizza bases.. are all made in house, fresh on that day. For someone who gets a bit anxious when she doesn't know whats in her food AND for someone who is watching her weight - this made me very happy indeed! PS - you get two complimentary slices of crusty bread if you order a pasta dish!
Vapiano's tries to cater to all. So if you want to add something to your dish, remove something due to taste, being a veggie OR allergies - just ask. The staff are so friendly and kind, they are always happy to help. My favourite was Peter (hello Peter if you're reading this)
You can also choose what type of pasta you want. How cool is that?
I took along my boyfriend Simon & my friend Kassia so I could have different opinions and try out more than just a few dishes!
We ordered the large 'Piatto Antipasti' which contained salami, cheese & roasted vegetables to name a few. This was absolutely delicious. I loved the salami, pesto dip & cheese the most. In Kassia's words 'these tomatoes are amazing'. The bread was also so light and fluffy, yet super filling and delicious. It was so fresh the flour stained my lips!
Now moving on to our mains. I ordered the 'Pollo Picante' which is an internationally inspired dish. This tasted a little bit like Thai food & with ingredients such as pak choi and chilli sauce, that is probably why. Now, what I'm about to say is a pretty hefty statement but I am speaking the truth when I say THIS IS THE BEST PASTA DISH I HAVE EVER TASTED IN ALL OF MY PASTA EATING LIFE (23 years). The chicken was juicy & tender, and just the right size. I think its fair to say it was diced. The spiciness to flavour ratio was perfect & the portion size was great. Ah, I'm already itching to go back.
Simon decided to waffle down half of his pizza before I could even take a picture - thats how much he enjoyed it. Simon ordered the 'Calzone, no mushroom'. Ham, spicy Italian sausage, onions & mozzarella - sounds delicious doesn't it. The pizza came folded - in a sandwich form so you could really taste all the flavours and ingredients all at once. Simon finished his pizza, which was HUGE, in literally 5 minutes flat. In his words "This is probably the best pizza I have ever had. I can taste how fresh it is"
Moving on to Kassia's choice. The 'Perla' - shell shaped pizza, baked and then filled with mozzarella, parma ham & a spicy rocket salad. YUM YUM YUM! Another pizza that came folded over and was baked to absolute perfection. Kassia couldn't get enough of the huge mozzarella ball & those delicious tomatoes. She kept ummin' and sighing over how delicious it was. I think this is a great choice if you fancy a pizza, but you're also watching your weight. The 'Perla' pizza is filled with salad and ham so its not too bad on the waistline. Its also not smothered in cheese - that mozzarella ball is optional ;) if you can resist of course.
Dolci time.. (dessert)
I ordered the vanilla and lemon cheesecake with fresh strawberry sauce. I had high hopes for this as I am a gigantic cheesecake lover and it is my all time favourite dessert. I was left a little disappointed (only a little). It tasted great, but the texture was a little weird. It wasn't sweet enough for me and lacked that thick, gloopy feeling that I just love. However due to the light airy feel to this cheesecake I didn't feel guilty eating it & I could tell it was freshly made. It fell apart as I ate it & it just looked gorgeous!
Kassia's choice was the 'Crema Di Fragola' - whipped mascarpone cream with fresh strawberries. I was a little jealous of Kassia when she was eating this. From her sound affects - I knew it was just delicious. Kassia said it was rich, creamy and tasty! The portion size is perfect if you have a sweet tooth after dinner, but you're also ridiculously full!
Simon went for the 'Tirimisu Della Casa' and in his words 'The richest, most tastiest tirimisu I have ever had. The size was just enough to satisfy and I will defo be ordering that again'. My boyfriend is a tirimisu fiend - he knows his stuff!
Once you are throughly satisfied, its then time to pay. Remember that card you were using whilst ordering? You are going to need that! At the entrance, before you leave - simply hand over your card to the front desk & they will tell you your bill. Everything you have ordered at the food stations will be on that card (thats why its important to keep it safe & not to lose it).
All three of us agreed that the value for money in Vapiano's is just incredible. All of that food came to roughly £60 including copious amounts of diet cokes! The vibe and atmosphere was also really great. The lighting was cool & everything was really modern and relaxed. Vapiano's reminded me of the busy hustle and bustle of New York. Remember - we did visit on a Friday evening so for a more quieter experience, I recommend going for lunch!
Altogether my experience at Vapiano's Great Portland Street was the best dining experience I have ever had. I adored the food, the customer service & the atmosphere. I am already planning my second visit & I can't wait to sample even more of the menu. If you are ever in Oxford Circus shopping, I really recommend visiting Vaps. Its just behind Topshop! It will be one of the most delicious refuels you will ever have - promise!