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Veggie Guy: Vapiano

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Funny how Vapiano, the German-based fast-casual restaurant in Mockingbird Station, actually feels like Germany. Maybe it's the color scheme--a little like the Nutelleria in Frankfurt--or maybe it's the fact that the system here is so foreign, and words sorta get lost in translation.

As Date and I entered Vapiano, a hostess greeted us and asked if we'd been there before. "Date has, but not me," I replied.

So she guided us to the pasta area, handed each of us a menu, a pair of plastic cards, and said, "here you go." Then she walked off.

Um--okay...?

Luckily, Date showed me the way. Then we walked up to the line and inquired about vegan options. Line chef number 1 suggested several dishes: Chicken Alfredo with no chicken, Pomodoro e Mozzarella, Carbonara with no bacon. I interrupted, "Okay, none of those are vegan. Vegan means..." So line chef number 2 jumped in. "You want something vegan?"

"Yes. Please."

She went down the list with me. All traditional pastas can be made vegan. Pomodoro is made with a choice of house-made pasta and a basic tomato sauce. Arrabbiata is the spicy version. Aglio e Olio is made with olive oil, garlic, and chili. Limon e Menta includes lime, fresh mint leaves, and olive oil can be subbed for butter. From the classic dishes, vegans can order the Pomodoro e Rucola (tomato sauce and arugula), and Pomodoro e Spinaci (tomato sauce and spinach). The one vegan premium pasta is the Pomodoro Fresco e Basilico.

I went with the premium dish. My Pomodoro Fresco e Basilico was a sautée of cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and linguine. Date ordered a non-vegan dish, scampi, made with whole wheat fusilli, shrimp, tomato sauce, garlic, fresh vegetables, and a wad of fresh parmesan cheese. The chef charged my card and handed it back to me. We set our dishes at a table and walked to another station for some wine.

After a quick scan of the wine list, we ordered two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc. The bartender was clueless. She pulled out a series of incorrect bottles and shot me looks of utter confusion. I repeated the order. Then tried again in Spanish. Still lost...Maybe I should've ordered in German? I eventually had to go behind the bar to help her find the right bottle.

But her ignorance worked to our advantage--she poured heavily. I handed her my card for charging.

What a pain in the ass, don't you think?

But even after all that hoo-ha, I have to say I'd totally go back to Vapiano (now that I get it). Dishes were nicely crafted, well portioned, and fairly priced. And Date and I were able to sit and converse for well over an hour without interruptions. Sure, someone did come by to pre-bus our table, but nobody chatted us up or made us feel rushed to get out of there--just like at many urban German restaurants.

Could be because they don't work for tips here either.

So after our long lunch date, I headed to the cashier for card swiping, and paid for our meals. And I did go ahead and leave a decent tip. Nobody likes a cheap date...at least not in the States.

Vapiano
5319 E. Mockingbird Ln.
214-887-1557

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