Newest Review: ... a couple where we left our coats and then ventured downstairs. Downstairs there are different counters for what you want to eat. Theres ... more
Fun place to eat but not when it is busy!
Vapiano (Great Portland Street)
Member Name: MsTricia
Vapiano (Great Portland Street)
Advantages: cheap, good tasting food, good freshly in front of you
Disadvantages: not great customer service, too busy, lots of walking around
I had heard lots of rumours about this "Vapianos" restaurant and earlier this month it was my friends birthday and she wanted to go for a night out. I went to dinner and stayed at the bar for about half an hour before I had to head home as my daughter was unwell so I promised to take her out for dinner soon and we would go to any restaurant of her choice. She of course chose this unique restaurant on Great Portland street hence the choice of this review!
***Is it a restaurant or a Buffet?***
I was a bit confused and let down by the service upon first entering as the woman at the door handed me a black card which looks like a matte black gift card and asked if we had been here before. When we said no, she kind of rolled her eyes and said "wait here" then let other customers behind us in, and then pretty much said to us "Use this card to beep what food what you want, then when you leave come back here to pay (vaguely pointing to a till point locating by the door). Oh and I'd advise you to find a seat first" then she stalked off.
It was about 8.15pm and the restaurant was completely PACKED. There are no specific seats or tables but pretty much an assortment of low tables and stools/cushioned sofas and then randomly in the middle some high bar stools and tables and literally you share a table with whoever is already there unless you jump in someones seat literally as soon as they finish eating and stand up to leave! So we ended up looking around then wandered upstairs and thankfully found a small table next to a couple where we left our coats and then ventured downstairs.
Downstairs there are different counters for what you want to eat. Theres "Pasta" with about 6 chefs where you can order your pasta dish from and it is made in front of you.
Then theres the "Pizza" area where you can order the dish requested and then a pick up point where you can collect it as this is not made in front of you. Then in the corner there is a "Antipasti" section where salads and starters and bread can be picked up.
To me this felt like more of a buffet style as you are pretty much wandering around with a tray trying to decide what you want and then lining up whilst you get it. There are no waiters/waitresses around to help you or advice you on what to do or where to sit, but you are kind of left to figure it out on your own what to do.
There isn't really a large range of food on offer and it's pretty much pizza, pasta, and salad. Being not too exciting we chose a really simple meal - both of us getting the tagliatelle with scampi in Grupo D which cost each of us £9.75. As a drink I got an appletiser and my friend ordered a diet coke and together we each beeped our card to the sum of £12. If you ask me this is really cheap and cheerful and we were impressed at the price. The chef we placed an order with told us it would be 2 minutes as he was cooking the dish for the customers in front so we happily beeped our card so he could charge us and wandered over the antipasti desk.
My friend ordered Bruschetta which costs £2.80 and was very lovely crusty bread garnished with tomatoes and basil and a drizzle of olive oil. Whilst it looked appealing it was a bit basic and to be honest the bread itself is free so I just dipped it in my dish which kinda was the same thing!
We then drifted back to the pasta counter where our tagliatelle was ready to be made. The chef took a bag of tagliatelle pasta out which was already measured and threw into the wok some oil, onions, garlic and the prawns (although I was a bit peeved he only seemed to add about 6 prawns or so, but in fairness they weren't teeny tiny but a pretty decent size) and he started cooking. He then asked if we wanted white wine, and we said yes so he put a splash in. He then sizzled it about a bit and asked if we wanted some chilli. We both said yes so he sprinkled some chilli over and kept swishing all the ingredients around in the wok. Finally was some pepper, salt and tomatoes, basil and within a few minutes our dishes were ready to be served!
He poured our food into a bowl and asked if we wanted cheese. We both agreed so he sprinkled some parmesan cheese (again I was peeved as I wanted far more cheese than he gave but didn't want to seem too greedy lol!).
The food was really nice and the portions were really large so for that I was pleasantly surprised. The food was quite tasteful and really filling, and we enjoyed chatting over our meal as a lovely evening out. My only small gripe was that the pasta was quite hard and so I think it was cooked al dente. This is not particularly my favourite way to eat pasta but it didn't ruin the dish too much.
The restaurant has a very intimate feel (seeing as you are squashed in and sitting wherever you can) and it feels like a wide, and weird assortment of furniture as there are sofas, bar stools, chairs, and all kinds of tables. The lighting is really dark, but the designated areas for the foods are clearly laid out and we soon got to grips with what we had to do. Once we finished eating, one thing I did find was a member of staff there came over at the speed of lightening to clear away our plates and trays. Considering no-one else was particularly helpful for the entire evening before hand I was surprised at the promptness and the politeness of this member staff.
Overall, it was an enjoyable experience and the food was good but it felt like a bit of a workout. There was a bit of walking around, ordering the food, then walking over to the antipasti section to get the salad/bread then back to the pasta section to wait for our meal to get ready all whilst holding a very heavy metal tray. Then trotting upstairs with our food trying so hard to walk carefully not to drop the tray.
On our way out, we stopped at the till point, handed over our black cards and I paid £12 for my pasta and appletiser, and then £14.80 for my friends meal (pasta, diet coke and bruschetta) and there was a random small bowl of haribo with a spoon. I am more used to the traditional after dinner mints but I suppose Haribo is a fun and funky change! I would recommend Vapianos as a fun, evening meal out, but it did not seem very family friendly as it was very loud, busy and hectic for a Saturday night and with the stairs it would not be so good for anyone with a pram or a wheelchair.
Summary: a different type of fast food/buffet/restaurant