Soho has to be one of my favourite areas in London. It’s taken me a reallllllllly long time to get to know all the winding streets and hidden gems in the area, and even then, each time I’m in Soho I find something new.
Some of my favourite spots include the French house (the first pub I ever went to when I arrived fresh eyes and bushy tailed in London), Carnaby Street (a great little shopping pocket), Barrio Central (perfect for a dance), The Blind Pig (perfect for a cocktail), and La Bodega Negra (because I just LOVE Mexican street food).
My latest discovery is a restaurant completely different to what I’m used to. In the heart of bustling Soho is Vapiano – a somewhat mix between an Italian kitchen and a fancy food court. Sounds weird right? I felt the same when I first walked in. They gave my friend and I a Vapiano card each and we were sent off to fend for ourselves.
We made ourselves at home at a surprisingly intimate share table under the olive tree (a real olive tree, I have no idea how they keep that thing alive indoors), dropped off our jackets and set off to the counters to order some antipasti and a bottle of Marlborough Savignon Blanc from the bar.
Once we’d filled our bellies with loads of cured meats and bread, and had made some decent progress with the bottle of wine, we went back to the counters to order our mains directly from the chefs.
I was so full from the snacking that I went for the freshest pasta option I could find – Pomodoro Fresco e Basilico.
We ordered our pasta and here’s where they really won me over, the chefs cook your meals right in front of you – everything from chopping the tomatoes to cooking the fresh pasta, to the seasoning (and adding extra cheese) at the end. Bellisimo.
We finished on a little tiramisu, just to make sure we would really have to roll our way out of there. Literally, I ended up walking an hour home because I’d eaten to much!
When you’re all finished up you just head to the front counter, hand back your card and fix up the bill. It’s a little strange but makes splitting the bill really hassle-free.
Vapiano is a really fun place to meet friends and it’s great for a casual, easy food option in Soho (which can be pretty hard to find). It’s an alternative way to eat some quality fresh pasta with friendly service where you get to know your own personal chef.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for first dates as the waiting time at the counters could get a bit awks, but it’s a perfect option with some friends or to fill your belly before a night out. Also, take a spare cardigan or something to mark/hold your seats if you want to get up and top up on food or order mains/dessert. They don’t take reservations so just show up and see if there’s any free spots available.
Have you ever been to Vapiano? What’s your favourite restaurant in Soho?