Pasta. What in the world is more wonderful than pasta? If I had a size 2 body and the metabolism of a golden retriever I’d have a carberrific creation morning, noon and night. Alas, I don’t and my intake of Italian dishes isn’t what I’d like it to be so imagine what a treat it was being invited to Vapiano to celebrate World Pasta Day (25th October).
Taking a break from our ever-growing pile of a client work, I took my mum along as my plus one to have a chilled afternoon in one of Manchester Corn Exchange’s most popular restaurants. Sat amongst some of the city’s most loved eating establishments – Tampopo and Mowgli to name a couple – Vapiano has a more casual, relaxed feel that invites its guests in from the October cold to stuff their faces with fresh, delicious dishes.
I’d been to Vapiano a couple of times before – it’s the sort of place you can dive into for a nice lunch after a hard morning of retail therapy – but had only ever had pizza off the menu. Vapiano’s charm, and USP as it were, is that you go up to the kitchen to order your meal on a swipe card and can completely customise the dish before watching it being cooked right in front of you by your own dedicated chef. The pizzas, quite honestly, are insanely good – the homemade bases are cooked to perfection – so I was really excited to see what they had to offer in terms of pasta.
Despite loving it, I generally avoid pasta when I eat out. Quite often I am disappointed and find the dishes are usually a microwave job, despite being in a restaurant, or are just not quite cooked how I like them. I was a little unsure how well Vapiano’s dish would go down with me, especially as I’m trying to eat a majority plant-based diet at the moment so I’m avoiding cheese – I was worried the dish would be a little bland.
After choosing a seat on the balcony overlooking the centre of the Corn Exchange, we went up to order our dishes. We both decided on the arrabbiata (tomato sauce, chilli, garlics and onions) and, as you can choose which pasta you want, I had taglietelle and my mum had fuselli. As I mentioned before, you can completely customise your dish, so if you wanted to throw in some extras (chicken, king prawns, fillet beef, mozzarella or salmon) now is the time to do it and you can even choose how spicy you want the dish, for which a chose a safe mild/medium.
The pasta was, honestly, delicious. I’m a massive lover of anything with a tomato sauce so I was happy but my mum who, on the contrary, usually hates anything with a tomato sauce really enjoyed hers too. I feel I’d chosen the perfect level of spice and despite it not having any of my beloved cheese on, it was really full of flavour and enjoyable.
Quite why I’d bothered to stick to my new vegan lifestyle with the pasta though, I don’t know, because it all went out of the window with dessert. What can I say, I’m WEAK and when presented with the dessert menu, I caved. I challenge anyone to resist the temptation of their Cioccolata Bianca when the menu boasts that it’s ‘a blend of white chocolate and cream on a biscuit base, topped with salted caramel sauce and honeycomb’. Let me tell you, it’s impossible to. The dessert absolutely did not disappoint – it’s everything a white chocolate lover/miserable new vegan dreams of and was worth every second of the inevitable guilt I felt afterwards.
Vapiano really is a fantastic place to have a really chilled bite to eat whilst you’re out and about in Manchester. The staff are all incredibly friendly and it’s a really relaxing environment where you can sit and eat at your own pace without being rushed. When you’re finished you simply pop down stairs to the till and clear the balance on your swipe card. The whole restaurant is really clean and spacious and I love that the kitchen is so open and you can watch your food being cooked. It really reassures you that everything is fresh that day and it allows you to curate a dish you definitely will enjoy.
Have you been to Vapiano? How do you customise your dishes? I’d love to know – tweet me or comment on my Instagram @jacintadawn.