Say the words ‘restaurant chain’ and images of fast food, benches and people in red aprons and chef hats spring to mind. Well, Vapiano has all of these things, but this is where the similarities end. Because, where your average chain restaurant is more likely to produce food to fill the stomach rather than delight the tastebuds, Vapiano has put the emphasis very firmly on fresh produce and delicious taste combinations. This is Italian food made the way it should be – fresh on the day, with lashings of olive oil, garlic, chilli and herbs.
It would be quite hard for someone dining in Vapiano to honestly judge the customer service of the waiters who work there. Why? Because most of the serving work is actually done by the diner.
Here’s how it works: When you arrive at Vapiano you are given an electronic card (on which to charge your food and drink). Once you have your card, you then queue at a particular cooking / serving area to make your order – those who want pizza queue in one space, those who want pasta queue in another etc. Your order made, you then go and take a seat until your electronic card begins to flash, telling you that your food is ready. You then go and collect your meal.
Does this sound like hard work to you? Well, it was a little. You see I am an old a fashioned gal, I like a waiter with a menu – I order my food and from that point onwards it is no longer my problem. No checking to see whether it’s my card flashing or just my mobile phone, no confusion over who’s card it is that has become wedged under the table and definitely no need to leave my seat until I absolutely have to – usually after my second glass of wine. This said, Vapiano strikes me as being the perfect working-lunch destination or a great eatery for a meal with colleagues. You definitely won’t exceed your break due to slow service or stress over splitting the bill.
I counted 8 varied pasta options, a range of huge and delicious pizzas, salad and antipasti that was so good I asked for the recipe. At Vapiano, the chefs cook in front of you (made to order), so you get a full-on cooking experience whilst you wait. Even better, you can customise your meal as much as you want, picky eaters rejoice! Don’t like onions but love basil? Can’t stand tomatoes but want extra cheese? – this place is for you. I really cannot fault the food at Vapiano, it is simply delicious. In fact, I would have stayed longer and tried more of their offerings, if it were not for my expanding waste line becoming uncomfortable. If you are considering dinner at Vapiano, my advice is to come with a bunch of chilled-out friends and an empty stomache.
There are disabled toilets on every floor with a stair lift for wheelchair users installed on the ground floor. The lack of waiter interaction and the card booking system is not great for those who might need extra assistance, or who are unable to see the flashing light on the card due to a visual impairment (I instantly misplaced mine and then got it muddled up with my guests’). The electronic card system is a novel idea to speed up the ordering process, but it did not add much to my dining experience.
*Vapiano is well worth a visit. Excellent Italian food made fresh to order, bravissimo!
90B Southwark St
Tel: 020 7593 2010