Vapiano, Town Hall

I’ve found over the years that pasta in Sydney is quite hit or miss and rather overpriced in general…so newcomer Vapiano is like a breath of fresh air with its upmarket canteen concept, serving up affordable Italian cuisine made to order in front of you.

Considering the cuisine, it’s a bit surprising to hear that Vapiano is in fact a German franchise which has set up shop in numerous cities around the world, including Brisbane, Gold Coast and Melbourne in Australia. Now they’ve opened one right in the heart of the Sydney CBD on the corner of King Street and York Street as part of the Grace Hotel.

Vapiano injects some modern charm into the old school world of the Grace Hotel, with a double level fit out full of clean lines from the Scandinavian style long oak communal tables. The restaurant almost feels like a food hall, with separate stations for pasta, pizza, antipasti and the bar. The idea is that each diner is given a separate card so that you can order separately on your own tab, instead of splitting 1 bill for a big group. You choose which type of dish you would like to dine on (pasta, pizza or antipasti), line up at the relevant station and put in your order to the chefs who whip up the meal for you freshly made to order as you wait. Best part is that the chefs will ask you about your preferences for the herbs and spices used for the meal – more garlic? Less chilli? All easily accommodated.

I have ordered a Ravioli Con Carne which has a traditional bolognese filling. Other dishes on the pasta menu have a choice of other types of handmade pasta to match the chosen sauce, but its a set pasta of ravioli for my particular sauce.

Luckily, the wait for my pasta doesn’t take too long – the chef does a great job of pulling it all together in about 5 minutes and I waited an additional 5 minutes for the people in front of me in the queue to get their dishes too. But I have a feeling that the wait for food at Vapiano during peak lunch/dinner hours could get quite long, since it is dependent on the chefs churning out the dishes quickly and made to order while the customers wait in front of them.

It’s a self service system, so we take our dishes on a tray back to our table on the second floor. The chef’s tip to us was to add extra herb garnishes to our dishes depending on our tastes using the pots of herbs on our table – they’re not just there for decoration! Love the practicality.

I quite enjoyed my Ravioli Con Carne; the handmade pasta was very fresh, silky and had a tasty traditional bolognese filling.  The rose coloured sauce (a mix of tomato and cream) wasn’t too rich and the carrots, spring onions and ripe cherry tomatoes scattered throughout made it feel more hearty. It’s not a huge serving, but reasonable for the price.

Ravioli Con Carne, $17.90

All in all, Vapiano is a welcome addition to the Sydney dining scene with its fresh made-to-order canteen dining concept that has been given some upmarket touches with feature walls and contemporary lighting. Good pasta at a decent price is hard to find in this city, so it looks like Vapiano has filled that space in the market for now.

Cnr King, York St, Sydney NSW 2000
Ph:(02) 9299 0079

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