Tucked away on Albert Lane in the CBD, Vapiano makes some big claims such as comparing their fusion of Italian cuisine with Australian ingredients to the much-loved Daddo brothers. According to their website, these are the two amazing things that happen when you mix Australia and Italy. Apart from great PR, the restaurant offers a fairly basic, though tasty menu.
The main thing about Vapiano is the fairly confusing system they employ. Once seated and menu-perused, you have to go to the correct counter to order your food; there is one for salads, one for pizza and many for pasta. If you decide on pizza, you are permitted to return to your seat with one of those oh-so-melodious buzzers. If pasta is your weapon of choice, you have to stand and wait for your food to be cooked. Obviously this has its advantages, you get to watch your food being prepared so no matter how rude you are (hooray?) there is no concern of swallowing someone else's cooties, as well as being assured that it's freshly prepared.
If you're in a small group this is probably a great system, although someone will have to stay behind and guard the table from the hawk-eyes of the hungry lying in wait. However, I went with a fairly large group and we were forced to eat in a strange staggered fashion, since of course all our food couldn't be cooked simultaneously. While some were waiting downstairs for their food, others were upstairs struggling to eat as slowly as possible to conserve precious chewing together bonding time. Despite this, everyone was happy with their meals.
Another oddity, although useful when hungrily waiting on your food, are the basil plants in the middle of every table. Since I'm a huge fan, I was excited to be able to add as much as I wanted to my dish. Although, we couldn't decide if we were actually supposed to be picking and consuming the leaves since we didn't witness any of the other diners doing this. We consoled ourselves with the fact that there was what looked like a basil farm in one corner of the restaurant, so it seemed fairly likely it was there for our subtle meal adjustments.
If you are greeted with a line-up when you arrive, don't despair, I've heard that they bribe waiting customers to stick it out by serving slices of pizza. The last thing I'll mention is that everything you order is swiped and stored on the card you receive when you arrive, and this is how you pay as you leave. Be sure not to lose your card, as they've nicked the idea from hotels and will charge you for it.