Despite the recent trend for clean-eating, if many people are honest with themselves, eating a pizza is a lot more appealing than a salad (well, it certainly is to me!). But how many of us have actually made our own pizza from scratch?
Well, Covent Garden‘s newest eating venue BungaTINI is offering diners the chance to enrol on pizza making classes. From 11 April, the Italian eaterie will be hosting weekly classes every Tuesday. The fun-filled lessons will include a welcome drink and 90 minutes of kitchen tuition.
During the evening, the aspiring pizza chefs will be taken through lessons on the history of pizza, dough making, dough throwing, pizza topping and, finally, pizza eating. While working up an appetite in the kitchen, guests will have a choice of a complimentary Peroni, Prosecco, Aperol Spritz or red or white wine. After eating the fruits of their labour, guests will receive a goodie bag full of treats and a group photo.
BungaTINI is a new all-day pizzeria and aperitivo bar from the same team behind the famous Bunga Bunga in Battersea. For those in the mood for some late-night revelry, diners can pass through a meat locker door to Bunga Bunga Covent Garden next door for some singing and dancing action.
- Pizza Making Classes at BungaTINI take place every Tuesday from 6.30pm-8.30pm. £28pp. BungaTINI, 167 Drury Lane, Covent Garden, WC2B 5PG. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Holborn. For more information, visit the BungaTINI website.
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There’s a new style of dining standing out amongst the chain restaurants, posh eateries and greasy spoons in Soho. Having already won over many fans in mainland Europe, Vapiano has set up shop in Wardour Street providing a relaxed and speedy dining experience. Italian is one of my favourite foods and is responsible for my genuine love of carbs. However, when it comes to eating the cuisine, I find many venues can be overpriced so was pleased to discover Vapiano is serving good quality Italian fare at reasonable prices.
Vapiano is an expansive venue covering two levels with different open kitchens lining the back wall. While it doesn’t take reservations, the high turnover of diners just looking to eat and go means there won’t be a long wait at peak times. Upon arrival, you are given an electronic card which you swipe Oyster-style at the various counters when you order your dishes or the waiters use when serving drinks at your table. You then present the card at the exit to settle your bill. I found this system easy and convenient and makes splitting the bill with your friends simple.
The venue is light and airy with contemporary furnishings and artworks. The street-art style design above the different pasta, pizza and salad counters certainly caught the eye. After one of the hostesses on the door explained the concept to us, we headed to a table to check over the menu before deciding what to order. Although you essentially carry your own food to the table, there are also waiters taking orders for drinks. One thing that immediately struck my friend and I was the wide range of wines, beers and cocktails for sale and what good value they were. I ended up treating myself to a Strawberry Bellini for only £5.
The open kitchens feature different sections for pasta, pizza and salad so you can order directly from the chef cooking it and specify exactly what you want and how you like it. While my friend opted for pizza, I headed to the pasta kitchen and chatted to the friendly and speedy chef as he made my dish. The freshness of the ingredients before me were clear to see and I was impressed with my choice of 11 types of fresh pasta. It only took a few minutes before my dish Scampi E Spinaci (King prawns, basil pesto, cherry tomatoes, spinach, light cream sauce on fusilli) was ready and needless to say, it wasn’t long before I had eaten it. The pasta was cooked to perfection and the rich flavour of the ingredients really came through. I’m hungry for another one just now writing about it! Meanwhile, my friend opted for the Verdure pizza (Roasted vegetables, mushrooms, tomato sauce, mozzarella) which she praised as one of the best pizzas she’d had in a long time. She also accompanied her meal with a salad with the choice to design your own if you want to go off menu. The open dialogue directly with the chefs mean you have the option to go off piste from the typical salad recipes.
Finally, we just about had room for dessert. These are pre-prepared and very good value with most around £2.25 to £4. I opted for a small Panna Cotta (Blend of vanilla and cream topped with strawberry sauce) which was delicious and a perfect size after stuffing myself with carbs, while my companion opted for the very naughty Death By Chocolate cake, which was creamy, but not too rich.
While the concept may sound like a food court, it certainly doesn’t feel like one. The low lighting, contemporary interiors and friendly staff make for a relaxing environment. I loved the idea of being so involved in the preparation of your meal. Every dish we had was tasty, fresh and rich in flavour, while the brilliant value of drinks were an added appeal. Whether you need a quick lunch or catch up with friends over dinner, I would highly recommend Vapiano. I think this place will be my new Soho hotspot.
- Vapiano Soho, 84 Wardour Street, Soho, W1F 0TQ. Nearest stations: Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus or Tottenham Court Road. There are two further branches in Great Portland Street and Bankside. For more information, visit the Vapiano website.
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Bounce is a unique London night out – combining drinking, eating and Ping Pong. Having opened in late 2012, I had the Holborn venue on my wish list for a while, so recently I finally got round to going with a friend for meal, drinks and a catch-up. For those who want to play Ping Pong, I highly recommend booking a slot on a table in advance. We only decided to go Bounce a few hours before our meal there on a busy Saturday night and weren’t fortunate enough to get a Ping Pong table booking.
Located a short walk from Chancery Lane tube station, Bounce is an expansive underground venue, featuring a restaurant at the back, 40 foot cocktail bar and 17 Ping Pong tables. Although subterranean, the large space and high ceilings mean the space feels far from claustrophobic or gloomy, in fact, quite the opposite. Upon arrival, we headed straight to our table and ordered one of the original cocktails from the menu. I opted for a Hatton Garden Spritz – named after the nearby road famous for its jewellers – a fruity, long drink consisting of Vodka, elderflower cordial, fresh raspberry and rhubarb, lemon topped with Prosecco, which was refreshing and light. My friend was in the mood for something a bit harder – and definitely not for the faint hearted – a Daddy Mac – a concoction of Chivas 12 year Scotch whisky, Stones ginger wine, Havana seven-year rum, agave syrup, fresh lemon and mint. The Daddy Mac has a sub-heading ‘not for girls’, which obviously gave my (female) friend a challenge, who managed to finish the drink, while admitting it packed a punch!
Although there was a selection of pizza breads, antipasti and other starters, we went straight for the pizzas. I ordered a Mozzarella, spinach, egg, parmesan, nutmeg and black pepper pizza. Cooked in proper Italian style with a crisp, thin base. The pizza was nicely floury and tasty and swiftly vanished from my plate, a good sign! After a whole pizza each, we felt pretty full and decided against a dessert and headed to the bar for some cocktails. Being a Saturday night, the bar and Ping Pong tables were packed. It made for quite humorous scenes when the odd Ping Pong ball bounced off your leg as you stood drinking. As the night wore on, we went off the cocktail menu and ordered simple spirits and mixers and cider from the extensive bar selection. The service both at the restaurant and bar was friendly and swift, despite the busy night. I am looking forward to returning and getting a game in next time! Bounce is a great place for a bit of mid-week fun, or a Friday or Saturday venue to unwind after a long week at work.
To find out about Bounce’s New Year’s Eve party and other ‘welcome 2014’ events in the capital, click here.
- Bounce, 121 Holborn, EC1N 2TD. Tel: 020 3657 6525. Nearest tube: Chancery Lane. The Ping Pong tables are bookable in 30 or 60 minute slots, starting from £10-£18. For more information and booking, visit the Bounce website.
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