This Monday (29th January) saw the opening of a new Italian joint in Glasgow. The German-owned chain Vapiano opens its second restaurant in Scotland on Glasgow’s ‘style mile’ – Buchanan Street. The highly anticipated restaurant (if social media is anything to judge by) opened its doors for a small soft launch on Monday lunchtime and an opening party in the evening. I was invited alongside fellow bloggers, foodies and around 400 other guests to have a look at the new restaurant.
Those of you who have been in Glasgow in the past few years will remember the old HMV which sadly closed its doors a few years back. This is where you can now find Vapiano. As you enter, you are welcomed by friendly staff and a huge plant wall adding a bit of greenery to your welcome. When you climb up the stairs, you will see a huge open space with long oak tables, olive trees, a bar area, and a number of food stations. The restaurant has just under 300-seat capacity.
Vapiano offers fresh fast Italian food. The system works like this: you grab a card at the entrance of the store which you then use to order food and drinks. Vapiano operates a number of stations offering pasta, risotto, pizza, salads and antipasti. When you order, the food is prepared right in front of you with fresh ingredients that you can actually see. The menu features traditional favourites as well as new takes on modern Italian cuisine. As you are leaving, your card is scanned and you pay for your meal. You can always find a jar full of gummy bears to send you off too!
The launch party itself had a fantastic buzz around it. There were a good number of guests and the place was heaving with people! We were offered prosecco on arrival and our glasses never even had a chance to be empty! The open bar provided guests with wine, beer and soft drinks. Each table had a plate of cold meats, cheese and olives, as you’d expect, all the Italian favourites: prosciutto, salami, mozzarella… Each table also has a couple of living herb plants like basil and oregano, and you can also find olive trees dotted around.
Soon after we finished our starters, waiters started bringing out some of Vapiano’s dishes – garlic bread, a couple of different pizzas (margarita and ham + mushrooms), and a couple of pasta dishes. We were sat at a corner table and it seemed that staff sometimes forgot about us and our line of tables. It was okay at the beginning but at one point we had to actually ask to try some of the dishes as they were not really coming our way. Aside from that though, even though it was a really busy night for those working there, they handled it really well – with big smiles and great chat! I found out that on top of the Glasgow staff they also had to bring in staff from their massive Edinburgh restaurant (occupying three flours!). Also for the night, we had a DJ who was spinning some nice catchy tunes which got us all dancing and provided a great atmosphere.
Back to the food. Let me start by acknowledging that there are always issues during a business’ first few days of operating and Vapiano wasn’t any different. The food was okay but really not as good as I’ve had in other Vapiano restaurants (namely Helsinki and Vienna). To be precise, the biggest disappointment was the pasta. It was overcooked and therefore way too soft. The sauces were good (we tried a pesto sauce, arrabiata and creamy mushroom one), and the arrabiata was probably the highlight as it definitely packed a punch! As for the pizza and the garlic bread… Well, they have a big competition in Glasgow city when it comes to pizza, as there are authentic pizza joints offering fantastic pizza. I also had a look at the menu and can confirm that the price point for these dishes is medium – not too expensive, but also pricier for a quick meal, in my view. On the other side, however, since all the food is cooked to order you can modify your order, ask for particular pasta that you like and perhaps also specify that you prefer it cooked ‘al dente’.
We had a pretty great time at Vapianp’s launch and I will be looking forward to a proper visit where I can have a real taste of their service and food. However, if past experiences are anything to judge by, I know that you can have a good meal there! I will be very interested to see what people make of the new addition to Buchanan Street and how Vapiano grows in Glasgow. If you’ve been there, let me know what you thought!
To find out their full menu and locations of restaurants all over the world, check their website.