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Handily close to Oxford Circus (on the former Mash, RIP, site), the first UK outpost of a German chain of Italian cafeterias, specialising in pizza, pasta and salads; at off-peak times, it would make a handy pit stop - when busy, its attractions are rather difficult to see.
Somehow the word 'cafeteria' doesn't appear in the propaganda for this new Italian, er, cateteria. Well, we always thought that was the word for the sort of place where you take your tray round to collect your dishes, rather than having them brought to you?
Perhaps this is not-a-cafeteria because it's really a 'concept'? Or is it not-a-cafeteria because where you sit down is slightly more comfortable than usual? Or perhaps because the food is Italian, and the owners German? Or is it because - this is a German concept, remember - there's lots of shiny metal about, and you pay not with cash, but with a charge card' which you settle up as you go out. Brilliant. But really not a cafeteria?
Perhaps more important than the is-this-a-cafeteria question are the two sub-questions. Can cafeterias ever be a Good Thing? If so, is this one OK?
Not having actually been to a cafeteria for a long time, we were quickly reminded how nice it is having people bring food to you, not having to queue for it. That's just a personal view, mind. It's probably OK if you only have to queue once. When you have to queue at each of the various stations (pizza, pasta, salad, bar), as you do here, it's frankly a bit of a drag, especially at busy times.
And you then have to wait while the food is cooked up/plated 'before your very eyes'. Thus we could only really recommend a visit for an early or late lunch (or perhaps a fill up before a trip to the Palladium).
On the second question, the food here is actually reasonably worth waiting for - that's to say that it's reasonable value, but not to the extent that it's worth waiting too long for. A slightly generous lunch for one - in the sense that it included a full plate of antipasti, which two could probably share - with a glass of wine, a plate of pasta, a run-of-the-mill tiramisu and a likewise espresso came to exactly £25.
Vorsprung durch Technik, as they say in Napoli.
Last orders: 11 pm, Sun 10 pm