Eating Out With Kids: Vapiano London (Review)

When we first heard about new Italian restaurant Vapiano being a 'unique and different concept' we weren't entirely sure what to expect.  On arrival at the restaurant, the four of us with my mum and 8 year old niece in tow, we discovered what this great new concept had in store.

The idea is that there are several different stations where you got to order your food.  So you might start off with antipasti and salads, which are ordered at one station; and then go on to order pizza or pasta, which will be freshly cooked in front of your very eyes.  If things are likely to take a little longer you will be given a buzzer to let you know when your dish is ready.

When guests are greeted at the door to the restaurant they are given a card on which all orders can be charged, and then the individual bill settled at the end of the night.  I thought this would be a brilliant idea if you were on a night out with mates or colleagues, and would avoid the dreaded splitting the bill at the end of the night.

The food was good quality Italian and we started off with an array of bruschetti, antipasti, salads and bread, all of which were delicious.  The antipasti plate was good value at £9.00 and the bruschetta was an amazing £2.80, with salads from £3.80 to £7.50.  The larger salads could easily be a main course.

The main courses available were an impressive 19 types of pizza and 22 variations of pasta.  The pasta dishes were a good size, and deliciously made with fresh ingredients.  The pizzas too weren't overwhelming as they can sometimes be, and were delicious.  Main courses are priced from £6.75 to £9.75.

The children's menu is excellent value at £3.50 for a choice of 6 dishes (3 pasta, 3 pizza) and, as you can see, the portions are a good size.  Mya chose the Pasta Carbonara and really enjoyed it.

The wine is very reasonably priced at £13 - £27.50, or available by the glass from £3.50.  The San Pellegrino is £4 for large bottle, and Peroni £4.10 a pint.  For its central London location, just off Oxford Street, very reasonable prices.

The desserts were divine, and amazing value for money.  At the manager's recommendation we opted for several of the small dolci - Panna Cotta, Tiramisu and Crema di Fragola - all at £1.90 each.  The three together were more than enough for sharing between Steve, Sophia and I, although they were so yummy I'm sure I could have eaten them myself!!

Mya and Mummy had the Cheesecake  which was £3 for a sizeable portion, which they couldn't quite finish between the pair of them.  It was very creamy and delicious, requiring an espresso to clear the palate afterwards.

Sophia was propped into a corner of the high bench as they didn't have highchairs, but she was OK, and thoroughly enjoyed all the food.

Our meal was absolutely delicious, but I would have to say that the whole going up and down stairs to different stations was a bit of an ordeal, and it certainly didn't appeal to my mum at all!  This isn't really an older person's restaurant.  The chairs are high, it's busy and noisy, and the whole serve yourself thing may not appeal.  It is also quite tricky with very young children.

However, my 8 year old niece loved all the going up to order, even opting to ask for some things herself, and she can usually be quite shy.  In fact she enjoyed it so much that she pretty much took over all the ordering in the end!!  We had her class teddy with us from school for the weekend, and took lots of photos of him in the restaurant.

Having already had a busy day, Lara slept throughout, which in some ways was a blessing.  She would have loved the food, but trying to contain her and keep her safely sat on the high benches would have been quite a challenge!  So all in all, I would say this restaurant would ideally suit adults on their own, or families with older children, who would enjoy the responsibility - and fun - of ordering.  But I would defy anyone not to enjoy the food!

Vapiano currently has two branches in London, at Southwark Street and Great Portland Street (the one we visited), but they have a huge worldwide presence too, if you are off on your travels!  If not, they are well worth a visit next time you're in London town!

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