Restaurant Review Project 22 – Vapiano

15 Jun

It was just the last weekend, when we were out and about in the city, we decided to hop into a new, snazzy looking restaurant in town called, Vapiano- quintessentially Italian, with its busy-ness, the cheer, colour, the drama and aroma of sizzling olive oil and basil in the air. There was no way, one wouldn’t stop and take a look at what’s the noise all about. The ambiance was the deal -sealer in our case.

chefs at work

Located at the City Center Mall, the inviting, homely decor is likely to attract many food lovers like us. To see that the modus operandi of this Italian  restaurant was unlike most others that we had been too, intrigued us further. The first thing that came to our notice was the head board which was  a chalk board with a sketch of Sophia Loren and one of her famous quotes that went,

Everything you see, I owe to Spaghetti

(I almost laughed out loud when I read that. She can’t be serious!!)

Right below the chalk board, we spotted a line of busy chefs in bright red aprons working their chef knives and skillets and dishing out delicious looking pasta.  We were completely enamored. On entering we were handed over a charge card each which we were to use when we ordered our meal. The place was jam packed which served as an indicator that the people of Bahrain were starved for a new place to try. We found a seat with great difficulty and sort of shared it with another family.

We then went over to the chefs to order our meal. The menu wasn’t exhaustive but still had enough options to hold anybody’s interest to try out something they hadn’t before. I was thrilled to bits to know that they had wholemeal pasta as an option.

The pasta rack

I ordered for a  whole meal spaghetti with pesto (basil pesto, olive oil and pine nuts)  and Insalata  Mista ( small) which was  a bowl of mixed lettuce cherry tomatoes and carrots, and small bottle of coco cola.

Whole meal spaghetti in pesto sauce

We were allowed to stand on the other side of the counter and had the previlege to see the chef prepare my dish. The ingredients looked fresh and everything seemed oh-so-posh. But the moment I had a forkful of pasta, I realized the pasta was totally under cooked to the point of being raw. It just tasted terrible and I am not exaggerating. Personally, I pride myself for developing tastes for any kind of food, however unpalatable, quite quickly. But this pasta was something else. Under cooked and the flavours all over the place; this was probably the worst pasta dish I had ever had. I didn’t go beyond a few forkful and left it untouched.

For the bowl of fresh salad was such a life -saver. The ingredients were fresh and having opted for a safer choice for salad dressing ( ceaser), I didn’t have to leave the restaurant completely starving.

The husband ordered a penne in pesto with some bruschetta ( toasted bread, tomatoes, garlic & olive oil) and a bottle of coco cola.

Penne in pesto

Unfazed by my pasta disaster, my hubby was quite optimistic about his. In all his excitement he sprinkled plenty of pepper and added flavored olive oil, and had a mouthful of pasta. His was as under cooked!! We were stumped! Was this the new way of cooking pasta?? I hope not, cause it tastes horrible. If this is what authentic Italian is all about then it is definitely not for us.

And our friend ordered, Fusilli in Pomodoro e Spinaci (Pasta in  Tomato sauce & Spinach) with a bottle of coco cola

Fusilli in tomato sauce & spinach

Bruschetta

The food looked so good, but tasted just the opposite.

Even my friend’s dish was equally ‘meh’.

But the bruschetta was a quite good.

We didn’t dare order for dessert and quickly paid our bill which came to around 17.8 BHD which was too much for a crappy meal like that.

Once again, I was reminded, that all that glitters is not always gold!

This would be my first and the last visit to Vapiano!

For the verdict:

Food = 1/5

Ambiance – 3/5

Service – 3/5

I would skip giving Vapiano an overall rating because it was such a horrible experience and hence I see no point in doing so.

19 Responses to “Restaurant Review Project 22 – Vapiano”

  1. Purvesh Gada June 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    Well, I dont know about the taste of this food, but these sure are amazing pics of yummy looking food. Its a pity that they dont taste as good as they look.
    Also, I wanted to give a bigger feedback, but now this blog has made me hungry and I am leaving to get a quick grub !! :P

  2. Bikramjit Singh Mann June 15, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    Right make sure you dont take me here then :) the pics look lovely though …

  3. marie June 15, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    What a bummer!!! Fresh pasta with pesto sounds so promising. You should totally call and inquire if your dishes were prepared correctly, so strange. I waited tables forever and as long as the customers are nice I never had any problem taking dishes back or making sure they were happy.

  4. kankana June 15, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    Did you tell the chef about the pasta ? I would have! I like pasta ‘aldente’ you know, a slight crunch as I eat and not soggy but initially I used to over boil it and aldente was undercooked for me. I am hoping that is not the case with you. Either way, you should definitely let the manager or the chef know about your experience.

  5. Gayathri Ramdas Sreekanth June 15, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    Is this the one we were planning to visit ??? Thank God.. (for me ! :) ) But it sounded so promising…Sigh,,

  6. Ameena June 15, 2012 at 11:55 pm #

    I’m so sorry…what a disappointment!

    I love my pasta overcooked…al dente is even too raw for me.

  7. Sally June 16, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    Love the pics – really fresh and vibrant

  8. yummychunklet June 16, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    I’m so sorry this was terrible for you!

  9. Cass @foodmyfriend June 18, 2012 at 3:17 am #

    I hate it when I am excited for a restaurant and it lets me down :(

  10. Ms. May Taqi June 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    Dear Mrs. Anita Menon,

    The Vapiano Team believes that every guest is a valued one. We strive to make guests savor their food and keep it as, what we hope to be, a positive memory. As mentioned by others as well, everyone prefers their pasta cooked in a different way. At Vapiano, our pasta dough is made fresh, daily. The 100% vegan pasta is made by simply using semolina, imported directly from the mother company in Germany, and water. To keep the pasta fresh it is stored for no longer than six hours. By means of our state of the art equipments, using only the latest technology, our chefs prepare the pasta dish by placing the pasta in the 96 degree boiling water and starts the 90 seconds timer that is set by all pasta machines where it cannot be removed before that time frame is up. Once the chef finds it appropriate to add to the rest of the mixture he combines it in the wok that is visible for all guests to see.

    We are sorry to hear of your not-so enjoyable experience. Your valued feedback is appreciated as we continue to seek ways to build a loyal guest base. As you kindly mentioned, Vapiano offers a wonderful selection of delicious Italian foods to choose from, and there are definitely more to try! The team would like to invite you to indulge in a meal for two with us at your own convenience to truly see how Vapiano operates from A to Z. Also, we would like to thank you for writing this blog as we see this chance as an opportunity for us to reply to all other comments as well.

    Feel free to contact me on: 17 22 00 20

    or

    Mr. Ramzi, Vapiano Bahrain Brand Manager: 343 77 355

    • Anita Menon June 18, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

      Dear Vapiano Team,
      It was wonderful to see that the Vapiano team cares very much about what its customer thinks and feels after a meal at your joint. I am very happy to hear from your team and impressed at the way you make your pasta and go to all lengths to see that it is fresh. You are right about everybody having a different perception of what their pasta or pizza should taste like but then most Italian restaurants still do end up serving very decent, like- able pasta. I am no -fuss food lover and Vapiano was seriously didn’t come anywhere even close to being palatable. I understand the concept of being al -dente and all that, but it was seriously undercooked or rather raw. If you cook your pasta only for 90 seconds then maybe its not enough. Your tasting team should do some testing before it goes out, at the start of the day. Just a suggestion. I wouldn’t mind coming to Vapiano at all to see what the smiling chefs have to offer!

  11. Thanh @ eat, little bird June 18, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    Wow, I am amazed that Vapiana is in Bahrain! There are a few Vapiano restaurants in Zurich and the concept seems to be exactly what you have described. I’m even amazed to see that the pasta bowls are exactly the same.

    It is true that the Italians cook their pasta only al dente, so that there is still a bite to it. But that doesn’t mean that it should taste raw and unpalatable. That’s a shame that you and you party didn’t have a great experience. There is nothing worse than paying a lot of money for bad food!

    On the few occasions which I have eaten there, I found the pasta dishes to be ok but not great. My pasta was certainly cooked better than yours, but often the sauces were not very flavoursome. Plus, I’m not that big a fan of queuing for food and then having to watch the chef make your meal, before hunting for a seat while your food is getting cold. But for a casual meal, it’s not mad. Except, in Zurich, there are many great Italian restaurants which are better value.

  12. Ms. May Taqi June 19, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    Dear Mrs. Anita Menon,

    We appreciate your feedback. Please inform us on a day and time that is suitable for you to join us at Vapiano Bahrain City Center. It will be a pleasure to meet you, your husband, and daughter Mimi.

    You can contact me personally on 39722205.

    Ms. May Taqi
    Marketing Manager at SunCity Ventures

  13. forgotten_matter June 19, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    The problem to the taste of the rest,they want to put and add all ingredients they read to the list and they didn’t stick to the menu so the Vapiano chefs don’t know the taste what are they cooking..they explain to them but they don’t like,,they give the menu list but, they didn’t read!..My idea is,put the picture on each of the menu list and put the Arabic and English language on it! thank…. ;-)

  14. Kitchen Karma June 20, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    Wow your photos were so great, I was expecting a great meal experience…true all that glitters is certainly not gold…we have had a similar experience with a newly opened Malaysian restaurant here in London….from then on decided to wait for reviews before trying out new places….

  15. Amy June 21, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    Hey! I nominated you for a very well deserved Versatile Blogger award!

    Check it out here: http://snazzybiscuits.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/raspberry-lemonade/

    Well done!

    Amy x

  16. Anthony July 18, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Hi Anita,

    Your blog is great and your pictures are making me hungry. I had the complete opposite experience at Vapiano city center and their pasta was perfectly cooked. I go there a lot for lunch. I believe they make all their pasta al dente with a timer but if you want it more cooked the chef told me they can keep in the water for longer. You just ask and they do it. 18 BD for 3 is actually a very good price as long as you’re happy with the food which u obviously weren’t lol.

  17. Ed August 26, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    Hi Anita

    I know it’s a matter of personal preference, but I believe that you are one of the few people that ever found the past at Vapiano ‘totally under cooked to the point of being raw’. But I agree that some of the sauces are indeed not all that flavoursome…I recommend Scampi e spinaci, my personal favourite.

    • Anita Menon August 27, 2013 at 6:05 am #

      I will definitely try and see if my perception about vapiano changes. Thanks for the recommendation Ed.

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