If you're familiar with The Grace Hotel, then you're at the right place. Vapiano is a fresh, trendy Pizza, Pasta and Italian Bar & Restaurant that began to delight us Sydney siders since December 2013. The other day, I received a golden opportunity to start afresh with my partner and have lunch here. Brilliant.
Arrived about 10-minutes early for our scheduled midday lunch together. So far, it's pretty quiet. Was greeted at the door by a host, and she handed me a menu and swipe card that keeps track of your food and drink purchases. Like a tab. Well, it is one.
All good. I was amazed at how simple, yet the abundance of effort enthused into the indoor dining room space beckoned. Love the brass balcony area upstairs. Downstairs was starting to get a little noisy. It was a no-brainer to head upstairs. Great choice, civilisation. You can only make reservations if you're coming here for lunch with a group of at least ten people or more. You look out for your name on a chalkboard. Pity for me and my man, we could not book - we just had to wing it for a suitable table. Winged it we did.
We enjoyed the dimly lit ambience upstairs. Before my man arrived, I left my magazine and diary on the table so to keep the table that I chose in case it got busy. The busyness remained downstairs, while upstairs there was ample seating space, even an hour later when it was time for us to leave and walk on by.
You need to order directly at the bar for your drinks and dessert, and at the kitchen for your food. Headed to the bar first, and I went for a small glass of house red ($7.50), and I could not say no to what looked like a generous serving of Panna Cotta ($5.90) as I was in the mood for something sweet.
Loved the bee sting inspired jars that the Panna Cotta was served in. I took my time to eat this, and this dish was rather soft. The berry coulis on top wasn't that sweet. If the latter was too sweet, it would have spoilt this treat. I will definitely return for one of these another time. Dessert was also available at the upstairs bar, however, I could not peruse that bar as it was closed. I carried my drink and dessert back to the table and headed back downstairs again.
No sign of my man yet. It is all good as he is still working long hours at the moment, and it was a miracle for him to come out and play with me so to speak. For that I was (and still am) ever so grateful.
As I was feeling peckish after I worked the bar and a faulty card later (of which was eagerly rectified), I went for some Bruschetta ($5.90), and ordered appropriately. Some beautiful sourdough bread and dips were available to enjoy for free while waiting. You're served by a chef, and the chef advised me that it will only take three minutes for my Bruschetta to be ready. Therefore, I waited and was impressed as to how organised this open planned kitchen really was. Great, I take the Bruschetta upstairs as indicated, and I come back downstairs for my man to arrive.
We went ahead and ordered a pizza to share too. He wanted the Salami Pizza ($14.90), and I was kosher with that. We had to choose our own buzzer/pager. My man went down to collect the pizza as soon as it was ready. At the bar, he went for a skinny latte. Sorry, I am unsure of the price of the latter as I swiped my card, yet he paid for the lunch at the end.
Great, happy times. Awkwardness turned into brightness with some great food. We both raided the Bruschetta in seconds, we were that hungry. Then we enjoyed the pizza. Loved the flavours, and it filled the spot. The toppings were quite minimal, yet all was well.
Sadly, it was time to pay. The Gummi Bears (which we could help ourselves to in abundance anytime) were staring back at us at the front counter. Temptation did not defeat us after a pretty blissful feed. The pasta queue was long, yet neither of us cared as we were in the mood to share a pizza. Thankfully the queue for the latter was short.
I will definitely return, and next time it will be alone. Then I will come back with someone.
Where: The Grace Hotel, Corner of King and York Streets Sydney.
Why: For the Panna Cotta, and then for their savoury food selections.
Cost: Less than $40. My man ended up paying.
When: Lunch time Friday. Come at 11:45am before the rush arrives. Queueing up here is frustrating.