I was recently invited to try out a local Italian restaurant, Vapiano in London. Whilst they usually supply a range of exquisite pizza and pasta dishes, I would be visiting on the first day of ‘Viva Oliva’ (meaning ‘long live the olive’), a 15-day olive festival to focus on a range of meals and dishes featuring olives.
On first appearances, the restaurant has a vibrant, busy atmosphere with a constant flow of visitors. Whilst waiting for my friends, I counted at least twenty groups of customers in the space of five minutes. I couldn’t believe the footfall and was even more amazed that I had never heard of the restaurant despite this location being open for over four years. Don’t let the active environment put you off, there always seems to be space for customers with a relatively short turnaround and a shared seating layout. If you spot a space on an occupied table, feel free to help yourself to the space.
Upon entering the restaurant, each member of our group was given a card that is swiped every time you order something. This results in a much easier transaction process at the end of the meal, perfect for larger groups to pay for what they had without splitting the bill.
The ground floor features a bar serving drinks only as well as the main focus, the food service area.
There is also a bar on the upper floor that serves a range of drinks as well as desserts. Each area remained well stocked and running very smoothly.
Take your card, join a queue and peruse the menu (selecting everything from the type of pasta to the ingredients to be used) whilst absorbing the smells of the food being cooked around you. As it’s a self-service format (there are no waiters) and despite the high volume of customers, we didn’t have to wait for long before getting our first try of the food. Check out my video below of the excellent, face paced service at Vapiano.
Once the food is ordered and you’ve waited a few minutes for the preparation, return to your table where a selection of herbs (freshly grown in the restaurant no less) are provided for you to further customise your dish. A favourable and much appreciated highlight giving the experience a further touch of quality.
Despite the meals being such filling options, we were keen to try the dessert selection. Ranging from a traditional tiramisu to rice pudding and cheesecake options, there is quite a variety to appeal to the majority.
The range of dishes available was only complemented further with the ‘Viva Oliva’ festival. Phil Sermon, Managing Director said: “Our restaurants have an olive tree in the dining area and it is an important aspect of Vapiano. The olive festival is a fun way of offering a range of new dishes with olives as a central feature.”
For me, Vapiano was more than just another Italian restaurant. It’s an experience. The pasta is freshly ‘manufactured’ on-site every single day. So it’s always fresh and of the best quality, a touch that shines through in the dishes. Every single pizza and pasta dish is created from scratch right before your eyes, you pull the reins to ensure that your food meets every expectation. I wasn’t disappointed at all.
Many thanks to Vapiano for the invitation to dine at the Great Portland Street branch in London. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience that I highly recommend.
The ‘Viva Oliva’ festival will be held at Vapiano until Sunday 5th May inclusive at its restaurants in the West End and City. Olives will feature in a number of specials, including pizza, pasta, salad and bruschetta.
The restaurants will also feature a tasting bar offering a range of olive oil creations as well as olive oil dip spice and olive oil salt. There will also be olive ciabatta.
On each of the three Sundays during the festival, diners will be able to enjoy a new creation served in a glass. It’s an ideal way to sample the restaurant and experience the festival.