When the trains are running to time, with no cancellations due to the 5mm of rain that fell the previous night and there are no road works, accidents or traffic jams, a wee trip to Glasgow from Edinburgh, should be a breeze. Possibly even enjoyable.
Around an hour on the train from city centre to city centre, Glasgow definitely has a very different feel from Edinburgh. At this time of year Edinburgh is most certainly geared up for the tourists whilst Glagow remains about its people.
Two of the TartanSpoonies, Carmin and Chloe are pasta fiends and so when asked to review Vapiano, Glasgow it was a resounding yes please!
Vapiano in Glasgow is located in Buchanan Street just opposite the Buchanan Galleries and unlike the Edinburgh restaurant, the whole restaurant floor is located on one floor (reception in on the ground floor but all the food stations and seating are on the 1st floor).
The dining area is a large expanse of seating and is a mix of high stools and tables, padded benches and lower tables and some soft seating. The food stations are Salad & Antipasti, Pasta & Risotto and Pizza & Lasagne.
If you’ve never been to Vapiano before here’s how it works. At the Front of House desk you receive your menu and a swipe card for each person dining in your party. You will use your swipe card for every food and drink transaction that you make. When you order food, you take it up to the food station, swipe it across the scanner and place your order; the same for ordering drinks at the bar.
Once you are ready to leave, whoever is paying the bill will present the front of house with all the cards to tally up the bill or each of you pay whats on your own cards individually.
It took us a while to decide what combinations to choose so a wee cocktail is what was needed to help ease the decision making.
An Aperol Spritz (prosecco, Aperol and soda water) and a Strawberry Bellini (prosecco with fresh strawberry puree).
For Antipasti, the Piatto Antipasti drew us in. Not only perfect for sharing but also a platter loaded with mouth-watering goodies like salami, chorizo, roasted vegetables, Grana Padano D.O.P, marinated olives, bruschetta classic and bruschetta mozzarella.
The bruschetta’s are lovely fresh thick slices of chunky bread laden with a tomato salsa and mozzarella. Salami and chorizo were thinly sliced and fresh too, with excellent flavour and the parmesan was seriously good – sharp, nutty, slightly fruity and gritty.
Now onto the big bowls of steaming hot delicious Parmesan cheese drenched pasta. The menu allows you to choose your sauce and choose your pasta. There are four sections for pasta sauces, these are :
- Vegetariano – such as the Crema De Funghi with button mushrooms, onions, cream, white wine or the Funghi Bolognese with mushrooms, carrots and celery in our homemade tomato sauce with soy marinated onions and fresh herbs (with some changes, both can be made suitable for vegans).
- Dal Mare – maybe seafood is your choice, try the Gamberetti E Spinaci of king prawns, basil pesto, cherry tomatoes, onions, spinach, cream and Grana Padano D.O.P. or the Salmon Carbonara with onions, egg, cream and Grana Padano D.O.P
- Con Carne – such as Pollo Piccante with chicken breast, orange-chilli sauce, pak choi and peppers or the Carbonara with bacon, onions, egg, cream and Grana Padano D.O.P.
- Verdure – try the Rucola Ravioli with rocket, ricotta cheese filling, butter, onions and pine nuts
Pasta is made fresh daily and the selection is good – penne, linguine, fusilli, campanelle, spaghetti, tagliatelle, spelt spaghetti, spelt fusilli and zoodles.
TartanSpoonies ordered the pasta (obviously).
Both dishes are from the Con Carne section of the menu. Firstly was the Cognac chicken breast, bacon, peas, garlic, cream, tomato sauce, cognac, white and spring onions with the Campanelle pasta.
Generous servings of pasta coated in the creamy tomato sauce. The cognac added a nice warm hint to the dish and you’d hit a sweet spot when you managed to scoop every ingredient up in one spoonful. Chicken was succulent and seasoned well, with a good amount dispersed throughout the pasta. All in all, it was just a giant hug in a bowl of pasta!
For me this is the pasta that I wish I had ordered. This is the Estiva with chicken breast, ginger, chilli, mint, rocket, sun-dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes and the penne pasta. The flavour profile is insanely good – the ginger, the mint and the chilli elevate this dish and give it various layers of flavour as you eat your way through it. Loved it!
As the TartanSpoonie were in pasta heaven, I opted for a pizza. I headed up to the Pizza and Lasagne counter and placed my order for the Barbeque Chicken with barbeque sauce, red onions, smoked cheese, tomato sauce, mozzarella. You are given a buzzer and return to your seat. Once the buzzer buzzes, you collect your pizza from the food station.
The pizza was good. The base was thin and bubbly with a decent distribution of onions and cheese over the entire pizza. I’m not a fan of sauce on my pizza, but the barbeque sauce was tasty and I felt it needed it to unite the flavours more.
Desserts I would describe as little pots of joy! They are just enough to finish your meal off without leaving the restaurant cradling your food baby.
We shared two desserts between us. The Cioccolata Bianca is a blend of white chocolate and cream on a biscuit base, topped with salted caramel sauce and honeycomb. Quite sweet but they are small portions so its not sickly. It’s quite a soft dessert but very pleasing to eat.
We also tried the Tiramisu Della Casa – Italian dessert of coffee and liqueur with a blend of mascarpone, cream and cacao. Lovely bitter taste of coffee. You need to be a coffee lover for this one.
There is no doubt that Vapiano serve up possibly the nicest bowls of pasta I have eaten at an Italian. They are generous portions, freshly made, with excellent toppings and just dishes that you can’t go wrong ordering. They are comfort food at it’s best and perfectly suited to the dreich winter weather we have in Scotland.
I am still trying to get my head around the concept of self service (to a certain extent). I love that you get to watch your food being cooked and can tailor each dish to your tastebuds, but I managed at least four attempts at swiping my card in the correct spot before my order went through and we all spent what seemed a lot of time away from the table ordering and waiting on food. The staff behind the food stations are all super friendly and chatty but I did hanker for table service!
Vapiano, 235 Buchanan Street, Glasgow, G1 2NG. Tel : 0044141 3709290 www.uk.vapiano.com
My Spoon Award : Silver Spoon (awarded to eateries where food and service are very good. Equivalent to 8/10)