Vapiano, Soho

During the course of reviewing restaurants, I have seen how the mechanisation of labour has also taken over the job of the waiter. Maybe I should have been paying attention to other matters such as the food, the décor and the ambience. But I could not help but notice how it is increasingly common for an order to be taken by a machine, rather than a man waiting on a call back for a yoghurt commercial.

The evolution of a restaurant’s delivery system has gone from a waiter with a notepad to waiter with an iPad, and from trying to catch a waiter’s attention to being able to order your food by touch screen. Soho eaterie Vapiano offers another way by which to expedite your food order. On arrival, you are handed a card and you then make your way to the different counters, entitled Antipasti, Pizza and Pasta. You place your order and then swipe your card to aggregate your bill. It’s like you’re a culinary Julia Roberts going shopping in Pretty Woman but without the condescending attitude of the shop’s assistant and the film’s glossy treatment of prostitution.

The advantage of this process is that you can watch your meal being made in front of you, and fortunately the chefs working at the restaurant do not suffer from self-consciousness. The downside of the operation is that you can be left waiting in a line to give your order as if you were in an upmarket version of McDonald’s. The restaurant prides itself on providing fresh ingredients and this is manifested in the taste of the dishes. My starter of a strawberry and spinach salad was light but with plenty of goat’s cheese, red onions and pine nuts.

As for the mains, my Toscana pizza, made within ten minutes, was well compiled and very enjoyable. My companion found that the interest of seeing the Crema di Funghi made in front of her was not kept up by the invention of the dish itself.

The great part about Vapiano is the ease at which a meal can take place and the interaction with the people making your food. Is it the finest Italian food in London? No. Is it trying to be? No. It’s a casual and pleasant way to enjoy food, breaking down the barriers between blankly staring at a menu to witnessing a meal being put together in front of you.

84 Wardour Street

Tel: 020 74 400 070

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