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.


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.

5319 E. Mockingbird Ln.

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