European Eats

Vapiano in bester Gesellschaft

Das Magazin von Ryanair, Ausgabe März/April, präsentiert eine Kollektion von acht europäischen Konzepten, die sowohl herausragend als auch bereits multipliziert sind. Der Fokus liegt auf Fast Casual. Insgesamt werden in Kurzportraits acht Marken aus sieben Ländern präsentiert. Davon aus Deutschland Vapiano.

Hier die Kurzportraits in original Englisch. Es lohnt sich, einen kleinen Rundflug durch die Homepages zu machen. Beste Publikums-PR, schließlich zählt Ryanair längst zu den größten Fluggesellschaften in Europa.



„Chains are the only realistic way to improve health through restaurants and this one, with its low GI approach and superfoods, is clearly the way forward”, says Giles Coren of The Times. Indeed, this is fast food without the fast-track to morbid obsesity. Since its launch in 2003, the nine-strong London chain has laid down the blueprint for simple, nourishing food on the go. So chicken nuggets are free-range, meaty and veggie soups change daily, and salads are souped up with seeds, nuts, dried fruit and sprouts. The wheat-free chocolate brownies are unbeatable. And you can be in and out with your tucker in a recycled paper bag in 60 seconds. McWho?



The well-cut chino of the restaurant industry, Vapiano combines dressed-down style with an accessible Italian menu. Dubbed ‘the future of fresh casual’, the German chain, conceived by an ex-McDonald’s employee, has already exported its 21st-century canteens to Vienna, Antwerp, The Hague, Stockholm, Zurich, Budapest and Istanbul, and aims to open a whopping 100 internationally within six years. It’s a simple concept, well executed. Freshness is paramount, from the blackboard menus to pots of fresh herbs, and vinegar and oil on the chunky wooden tables. The offering is deliberately limited: fire-roasted pizza, fresh homemade pasta and gourmet salads, all cooked to order at food stations, banded A, B,C,D, by price and charged to a tab card, the balance on which is settled before you leave. The first UK franchise will open in London in this year.


Le Pain Quotidien

In 1990, Belgian chef Alain Coumont opened a bakery and café in Brussels to showcase his perfect bread recipe. Eighteen years later, there are more than 80 LPQs worldwide – 25 in Belgium. The communal table remains the centrepiece in each, and breads, pastries and cakes are the main attraction, but the company is also committed to recycling, has an organic certification on the way, and serves healthy food. Breakfast, for example, might be organic soft-boiled egg and sourdough toast, while lunchtime tartines modernise the open sandwich.



Despite its less-than-delicious-sounding name, this 18-strong-northern Italian ice cream chain puts the ahhhh into gelato. The owners opened their first parlour in Turin in 2003, basing the concept on old-fashioned ice cram-making techniques (sugar and fat content is kept low), exacting standards of production and painstakingly sourced raw produce. Viennetta this isn’t; eggs are organic, fresh fruit seasonal, and colourings and additives not invited. If you’re wrapping your chops around one of their regular flavours, rest assured that lemons are from Amalfi, pistachios from Bronte and chocolate from Ecuador, while the owners have just founded a fruit farm to source their own fruit.


Lina’s Café

Le sandwich is the plat du jour at this upmarket Parisian chain, with branches across the country and, indeed, the world. Muted tones, elegant furnishings, pictures by up-and-coming artists and a carefully considered music policy are all designed so the customer can unwind. Soups, salads, quiches and sarnies are ordered at the counter. But forget indecision-inducing encyclopaedic lists of ingredients; Lina’s simple combinations: prawn and avocado, bacon and egg, ham and cheese… are based on top-notch produce and offered on a small selection of breads. Phew.



‘A restaurant chain dedicated entirely to cheese?’ we hear you cry. This mini-chain of mozzarella bars launched in Rome in 2004 to the delight of protein-guzzling fashionistas, and now has an outlet in Milan and one in London’s Selfridges (where else?). There’s slick, Japanese-inspired decór and sushi-style counters filled with fresh meats and greenery, but it’s the tanks of buffalo mozzarella balls that steal the show. Flown in daily from the mozzarella-producing region around Naples, they’re served up raw, smoked, grilled or baked with Italian wild boar salami, bresaola, prosciutto, smoked fish and salad. Obikà is surely Londoners’ best chance of getting stuck into a creamy burrata, a treat for true mozzarella connoisseurs, which must be eaten within 48 hours of production.


Sticks ‘n’ sushi

Unsurprisingly, given the Scandinavian penchant for all things piscine, the Dances can’t get enough of the raw stuff. Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, Copenhagen’s first sushi restaurant, now owns seven takeaway cafés and restaurants across Copenhagen, all combining contemporary Danish minimalism with classic Japanese touches. Indeed, the modish Euro-Jap has become something of an institution, but style is undoubtedly underpinned with substance. Sushi without sparklingly fresh fish is, well, a mouthful of rice, so naturally one of the chain’s main concerns is the quality of its catch, and the restaurants serve organic fish where possible. It’s all made to order, including the ‘sticks’, which refer to the skewers of meat, fish and veg on offer. And the democratic policy extends to nippers too, who are offered menus of their own with maki rolls, beginners’ chopsticks and mini chocolate fish. Super-sleek packaging makes takeaway a stylish option.


La Vaca Argentina

The name of Madrid-based chain, La Vaca Argentina, gives you a fairly clear idea of its main selling point: huge hunks of Argentinian cow. Founded in 1994, the growth of its herd has been relatively measured – 16 restaurants in 14 years – and the variation among them is marked. As you might expect, cowhide is a consistent theme, but styles range from unashamedly old-fashioned to cutting-edge contemporary. The menu, on the order hand, largely sticks to tradition, with man-sized chargrilled steaks alongside salads, hot and cold sharing plates and lighter grilled fish dishes to appease the less carnivorous. As well as 14 restaurants in the capital, La Vaca Argentina also has two other European outposts.