Just a couple of months ago Vapiano, a European chain of franchise restaurants, opened their doors in both Glasgow and Edinburgh. After reading many posts from fellow Glasgow based bloggers I was fortunate enough to visit them last week for a complimentary meal to review them.
If you’re from Glasgow, you’ll be familiar with the space the new restaurant is in. It is at the very top of Buchanan street, in an old HMV – and occupies a huge space. Downstairs is the front desk, where you can either book in for a meal or order takeaway. Upstairs (there is elevator access to the upper floor) there is a huge space with different styles of seating spread throughout. The design is minimalist with odes to Italy in the photographs on the walls. To the right of the staircase is light and bright with beautiful original stained glass windows overlooking Buchanan Street whilst the left, which hosts the bar, was lit in red and had more of a lounge vibe.
Once upstairs we chose a table which overlooked the busy street below, while our server explained to us the workings of the restaurant. Each customer is given a card with a £50 limit, which allows tables to either combine the bill or to bill each dish and drink to their own individual card – a fantastic touch in my opinion as it saves the awkward figuring out of who spent what at the end of a meal. Our waitress took our drink orders, but we were shown the different stations on the far side of the restaurant where you order each meal type (one station for pizza, another for pasta and so on).
The wonderful thing about Vapiano is that everything is made fresh and made to order, so if you have particular allergies or are fussy about exactly what goes into your dish you are able to dictate what ingredients are and aren’t included. The pasta and pizza dough are made fresh every morning and the whole concept of the menu – to me anyway – seemed to be very simple, pared back and focused on fresh produce. You can view the full menu by clicking here.
For the purposes of my review I was able to order a few drinks, a main course each with an antipasti and dessert – so that’s exactly what I did. We ordered a few different drinks, all of which are made with freshly muddled fruits, but my favourite of all was definitely the Aperol Spritz (£5.75):
- Piatto Antipasti (£12.75) – This huge sharing platter was perfect for us as we loved cured meat and cheese. The platter would be great even for three people to share because of the amount of food that came with it. There were three styles of cured meat; salami, prosciutto and chorizo, all generous in size and paired well with the accompanying foods. The salami and chorizo were nice but the prosciutto really was fantastic; not a lot of fat around the edges, salty and dried out just perfectly. There was a generous serving of buffalo mozzarella, roasted vegetables. The bruschetta, I have to admit were a bit lacklustre in terms of flavour, but the green pesto was packed with it and went perfectly on the bread, cheese and meat.
- Gamberetti (£10.95) – This was my mum’s choice of dish, and apparently she enjoyed it so much I didn’t even get a chance to try it! According to the menu it is a tagliatelle in a tomato based pasta sauce with king prawns, spring onion and lemon juice. Taking advantage of the ability to tweak the dish, she requested her’s with extra chilli for an extra kick.
- Diavolo (£10.65) – The portions, particularly of pizza, are huge at Vapiano so you certainly get your money’s worth. Diavolo is my favourite pizza to order in Italian restaurants, but unfortunately it wasn’t my favourite at Vapiano. The base of the pizza and the freshness of the ingredients were incredible, but for me the spicy Italian sausage that was used on top was not what I was expecting. On a dish that was so focused on fresh ingredients – yellow peppers, red onions, mozzarella and a tomato base – the sausage was not up to scratch. The taste reminded me faintly of Pepperami, and the slices were cut a little to thick for my liking. The taste of the rest of the pizza was incredible, and I actually think if I ordered a dish I wasn’t so used to eating elsewhere I would have enjoyed it a lot more. Looking at the menu in hindsight, if I was to visit again I would try out the Manzo Piccante (£10.95) or the Barbecue Chicken (£10.85).
- Ciocolatta Bianca (£5.45) – Even though it was a struggle, I managed to find room for this incredible dessert. There is a dessert bar set up beside the actual bar on the left hand side of the restaurant, where you’re able to select which one you would like for it to be brought back to your table. I chose the Ciocolatta Bianca, a deconstructed cheesecake that is everything I look for in a dessert and then some. A crumbly biscuit base topped with an airy, almost mousse-style mixture of cream and white chocolate, topped again with crushed honeycomb and a salted caramel sauce. The dish was served in a Kilner jar which I found to be a unique touch, and the taste of it was just incredible.
- Raspberry Sorbet (£3.50) – The sorbet came in a branded tub, and the choice between lemon and raspberry is given on the menu.
Overall, I would recommend Vapiano because it really does have a unique concept. You’re able to dictate what and what is not included in your dish without feeling like you’re being difficult, and that you are able to decide how you want to split your bill at the beginning of the meal is also a great advantage. It has a great location, is beautifully decorated and is different to any other Italian restaurant that I’ve tried in Glasgow which is always great in my opinion. The food was fresh, and although because of this it needs a little extra seasoning, I didn’t have the feeling afterwards of being overly full that I usually have when eating Italian.
235 Buchanan Street, Glasgow G1 2NG.
0141 370 9290