Shopping on Oxford Street can work up quite an appetite. When I think of places to eat in that area I am always stuck because you either have go for something quick and cheap (plus unhealthy) i.e. McDonald’s, or quick and/or healthy and relatively expensive. Cafes like Pret a Manger and Starbucks can be tasty but a sandwich and crisps won’t put me in good stead for an energy draining shopping trip. Wasabi offers some sushi and hot food but again it’s either unhealthy and full of oil and sugar (the hot food), or you end up spending a fortune on sushi, which is a bit of a tease. Sometimes it’s just nice to get a reasonable portion of food and a nice seat in a restaurant. Carnaby Street has some nice pubs and restaurants, but most of them are overpriced. Then you have your usual suspects on the side streets like Pizza Express and ASK but they’re not quick. I love a bit of Nando’s but I have that all the time so it’s nice to go somewhere different when you’re in London (if you don’t live in London).
I used to walk down Great Portland Street quite a lot when I was living in halls and used to go past this place called Vapiano. I never really understood what it was. From the name on the outside I assumed it was a jazz bar or piano school. WRONG. How wrong I was. I was shopping the other day with a friend and suggested we come here after I had been told by my sister it was actually a really nice restaurant. How right she was. First of all, it has a completely different set up. You are given a card as you walk in. There are no waiters, so this acts like a tab. You have to go up and order your drinks from the bar and food from the pasta or pizza stands. The bar has a good range of drinks, even 3 types of draught beer (good for the boyfriend or if you like beer!). The pasta menu is organised into 4 price ranges A – D, starting at £6.75 for Group A going up to £9.75 in Group D. You get to choose out of 11 types of pasta, which are all made fresh on site (you can watch it being made while you wait).
Once you’ve chosen what pasta and sauce you want, you choose a queue where there are chefs waiting for you (in the above photo). After you order it then gets cooked in front of you and takes around 10 minutes. Quick, cheap and healthy. The same idea goes for the pizza, apart from you don’t get to choose a base or anything like that, and it can be a longer wait. Obviously you just choose your topping out of the 4 price ranges. There is also a menu for antipasti and dessert but I didn’t get any so I can’t really say what it’s like. I can safely say the pasta and pizza are a-ma-zing (my friend got a pizza). So I’m sure it’s the same for everything. I went for the Granchi di Fiume pasta: Crayfish, fresh vegetables and lobster sauce from Group D. Was quick, delicious and fresh. Need I say more?
Granchi di Fiume pasta washed down with some Magners. Yumitiyum.
I love the decor. It really does complement the style of the food. It’s like a modern, sophisticated cafeteria. You have your own fresh herb selection if you wish to add a few more flavours to your meal. As it is a quick self-service arrangement, there are no bookings and the seating is mostly communal. I’m going to stop here as I am getting very hungry talking about this place and my stomach is screaming at me to go back. Where do you like to eat if you’re in this neck of the woods?