This week I was invited along for a meal at Vapiano which recently opened in Edinburgh. The first Vapiano restaurant was opened in Hamburg, Germany in 2002 and today there are close to 200 restaurants in 32 countries across the world. The concept centres around a relaxing atmosphere and an ethos of sharing and enjoying, all originating from an old Italian proverb that translates as:
“If you have an easy-going and relaxed approach to life, you’ll live more healthily and longer”
This atmosphere is felt from the minute you enter the restaurant. It’s spacious, well-lit and gives the feeling of sitting in an outdoor cafe somewhere in Italy, with walls and tables lined with fresh plants and herbs.
As you enter you’re handed a swipe card which you use throughout the duration of your meal – the concept being that you order your food, when you are ready, from the chefs waiting at their stations around the restaurant, swipe as you go and pay at the end. Stations are separated into Antipasti & Salad, Pasta and Risotto, Pizza and the Bar which includes Desserts. At the first three stations, your food is prepared or cooked directly in front of you.
We started our meal with the Piatto Antipasti (a mixed platter of antipasti), the Bruschetta Mozzarella and Bruschetta Gamberetti (bruschetta with grilled king prawns). The antipasti platter alone probably would’ve been enough as it was loaded with different meats, cheeses, bread, roasted vegetables, pesto and yet more bruschetta. The amount of food was generous for only £12.95 and the highlight for me was the pesto which was bursting with garlic and went really well with the mozzarella bruschetta. Both bruschetta dishes, again, were very generous and the prawns were a lovely variation on the classic.
When it came to our mains, we faced the age old dilemma – pizza or pasta? The answer – both. I went for the Cognac pasta – chicken breast, bacon, peas, garlic, cream, tomato sauce, cognac, and white and spring onions. I’ve never seen a pasta dish like this before and was intrigued by the addition of the cognac. I chose linguini as my base and the chef asked if I’d like to add anything so I chose extra garlic and chilli. I really like that you can personalise your dish then watch it cook in front of you, very quickly and skillfully too! I received a huge bowl of pasta with a good helping of cheese grated on top. It was deliciously creamy, tomatoey and garlicky and I’d definitely order again.
Clearly we couldn’t leave without tasting the pizza so we ordered two to share – the Pesto Con Spinaci (with fresh spinach, pesto cream sauce, marinated tomatoes and mozzarella) and the Carne (chicken breast, chorizo, peppers, red onion, ricotta, smoked paprika, lemon, tomato sauce and mozzarella). Both were really tasty for different reasons – the pesto nicely light and extremely moreish, and the carne rich and packed with strong but complimentary flavours.
Luckily we were warned at the start that we should save room for dessert. So, leftovers packed into tupperware for lunch the next day, we headed for the dessert section. I went for the Cioccolata Foresta Nera (layers of white, milk and dark chocolate with nutella, Italian sponge fingers topped with vanilla cream).
Wow. The layers of chocolate had a mousse-like texture and were quite light and creamy, contrasting with the dense, nutella-soaked sponge on the bottom. The dessert was by no means small and I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t finish the whole thing, but it was a thing of chocolate beauty.
Food – 9.5/10
Service – 8/10 – this is of course a self-service restaurant, which may not be as appealing to some people, but overall cooking/waiting times were pretty quick
Atmosphere – 9.5/10
Price – 9/10 – I received this meal for free but for central Edinburgh and fresh ingredients, I thought everything was really reasonable
Overall – 9/10
My Vapiano experience was exactly as they market it – relaxed and hugely enjoyable. I could imagine eating here with family, friends or colleagues. My only warning – you will leave with a rather large food baby.
KS x (expecting Baby Pasta early 2018)
Vapiano, David St, Edinburgh, EH2 2BD, https://uk.vapiano.com
*as ever, all views and opinions are my own