9th January 2018 6pm

From the front, Vapiano seems like a modest little restaurant. However, this tardis of a venue is actually spread over three floors, with the bottom floor being the largest with a spacious feel. There is an unusual approach to dining here. Ross, at the front desk, explained the set up to us. There are different stations for different foods: one for salad/antipasti, one for pizza, one for pasta and one for the bar and desserts. These are spread out over the floors but you go and order/collect your food yourself. You can either sit nearest the one you want or move about the restaurant to collect your food. There is also a lift for those who find stairs a bit over facing. We settled on the middle floor and sat at one of the high tables (there are a variety of types of seating). Order tracking is facilitated through a card, which can be swiped at each station, allowing you to see how much you are spending as you go, freedom from splitting bills and fun for kids.

We would have got 2 for 1 cocktails (between 4-7 Mon-Fri) if my friend had chosen one of the eligible cocktails but as it was, we chose the raspberry collins and the mai tai. These both were excellent and good value, even without the deal. Owen, who was our contact for the evening, had arranged for us to automatically receive the piatto anti-pasti platter. When this arrived, it was a veritable feast. With plentiful supply of three different meats, bruschetta, bread, mozzarella, parmesan and roasted vegetables, we were in for a treat. Most of the tables also have additional supplies of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, should you want to avail yourself of these extras. All the ingredients were incredibly fresh and flavour was good and not overseasoned. This would be perfect for a light lunch for two if you weren’t interested in a more hearty pasta or pizza dish.

We decided that we would try a pasta and a pizza dish for our mains. I went upstairs to the entry level service area and ordered a diavolo pizza. With pizzas, as they take a little longer to cook, I was given a buzzer so I could come back when it was ready. My friend went to the pasta area on the lowest floor. All the pasta is made on site and bundled into portions ready to cook in the various dishes. My friend had originally wanted the pollo piccante but, disappointingly, this was unavailable that day. She opted for carbonara instead. She waited a few minutes and was presented with her dish to take back up to our table. My pizza had a surprisingly crispy base and wasn’t too doughy. The topping was decent enough and the spicy sausage was actually spicy which was pleasing. On the other side of the table the carbonara vanished almost in an instant. Not because it was a small portion, as it was definitely not small, but because it was tasty.

We were cajoled into desserts, sold on the idea because these were also made from scratch on the premises. They do offer a small number of them in a mini size if you have already eaten loads but can’t resist something sweet to round off your meal. I chose the mini panna cotta and my dining companion went for the mini tiramisu. Sadly, again they didn’t have the mini tiramisu (I think my friend is cursed) so she went for the full sized version. My panna cotta had a lovely strawberry coulis on top. The panna cotta was firm but full of fresh vanilla which was lovely. The tiramisu was well received although she was unable to finish it after everything else we had eaten.

Vapiano is a solid option with some decent food. If you are enamoured with their USP, then it’s worth giving it a whirl.

Food – 7.5/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 31.5/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, particularly for the anti-pasti.

Complimentary but would have cost around £58 for two cocktails, sharing anti pasti platter, pizza, pasta and two desserts.

Whilst this meal was complimentary, all views are my own. Thank you to Rebecca for organising and to Owen for facilitating the visit.

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