For obvious reasons, restaurants usually try to describe themselves in their name. They might call themselves BlahBlah Bistro or La-dee-dah Fine Dining. So it is completely apt that Hippo Creek now refer to themselves as Hippo Creek Meat and Wine, because there may be a few other things on the menu – but they are completely irrelevant. This is big game country, a place for man-sized appetites, with meat on a stick and steaks the size of esky.
Let's just say this is not really a place for vegetarians, although they do have a changing vegetarian option and there are a couple different salads on the menu. Green stuff, that wasn't walking or mooing in a previous existence. Not much though.
We took a group of ten to the Subiaco Hippo Grill on a Saturday for lunch (you will also find Hippo Creeks in Hilarys and Waterford). It was a great place for a large group (including three children) and the service was friendly and helpful, but it needs to be said upfront that Hippo Creek is expensive. 90% of the prices on the main menu start with a $4, as in $40 mains. But you can also dine in without needing to re-mortgage if you come during the day and try the lunch specials: seven options all $29 including a glass of beer or house wine).
There are three other mains that cost less than $40 (including a chicken dish, a fish dish and the vegetarian meal) plus a few lunch only specials between $20-$30, but let's be clear – this is big wallet country with a 500g Black Angus rump starting at $40 all the way up to 500g Wagyu rump costing $80 and beyond. All steaks come with a sauce of your choice plus mash, fries or a baked potato and there are some bigger and more serious looking steaks hanging in the drying room if you really want something special (my two year old though they were dinosaur legs, that's how big they were).
We started with a couple of the mixed entrée platters ($42) which we were told would serve four people although they came out with random numbers of things, which actually made them difficult to share evenly. The boards included two crocodile skewers (tastes like tough chicken), five mud huts (tasty little crumbed mushrooms), three finger licking chicken wings, three hot stuffed jalepenos and nine slices of chorizo. With the benefit of hindsight, the starters were completely unnecessary, but no one was adequately prepared for what was coming next.
My husband's choice of steak, fries and monkey gland sauce looked completely uninspiring (ok, it was a $66 wagyu fillet, but still). However when I saw the glazed look in his eye I knew what was happening and I demanded to try some. It was absolutely the most delicious steak I had ever eaten, and it literally melted in my mouth. I had some serious food envy at this point. By the way, monkey gland sauce is NOT made from monkey glands, but it is a fresh tasting, herby BBQ sauce.
My steak sandwich, the crispy onions were inspired
I had ordered the Angus steak sandwich ($26), a decently sized steak, triple cream brie, tomato blatjang (relish) and crispy onions. This was a pretty fabulous steak sandwich, though I wouldn't recommend it if you were on a date or business lunch. There is no way you can eat it without dropping it, dribbling it or otherwise deconstructing it. Delicious but messy.
My father in law had a F1 aged wagyu, grain fed, 6 marbling, 300g sirloin ($66). Again, it looked uninspired but he said it was the best steak he had ever eaten.
At the other end of the table was the spectacle of Hunters Assaghai ($42). 400g of juicy, chunks of beef, skewered and hanging over a bowl of chips. The heat from the meat rises and melts a bowl of garlic butter, which then drips over the meat, before pooling on the chips. Yes, it's a heart attack waiting to happen, but it was so cool! (you can get a cheaper, chicken version for $29 as part of the lunch time specials).
Two people ordered the fish of the day ($38) and they were perfectly content with their choice (and the only two still able to walk at the end of the meal). The Wagyu burger ($30) was no ordinary burger with truffled Dijon aioli, aged cheddar, pickled beetroot and bacon on a toasted brioche bun. It was fantastic looking but I think there was still steak envy.
For the kids there is a dedicated menu, with four choices (all $12) served with salad or chips. The choices are steak, ribs, boerewars sausage roll or chicken. My three chose chicken, and although the three strips were marinated, they were reasonably bland (not a bad thing for children) although the kids were not overly fussed by them. The chips on the other hand were beautiful. Kids also have $4 milkshakes (great value) and $5 dessert which is two scoops of vanilla icecream topped with mars bar sauce. Yum.
There had been so much meat on the table that most of the adults had passed into some sort of meat coma where walking is uncomfortable and clarity of thought compromised. We all wanted to go for a lie down, but luckily there was one bright soul who demanded dessert so we all shared a few serves of the banana and white chocolate donuts with salted caramel and freeze dried raspberry ($15) which were a bit too doughy for my liking, and the amarula crème brulee with coconut icecream and tonka bean shortbread $15). That was delicious and filled whatever gaps I had left, admittedly not much by this stage.
The whole experience was rather full-on and a lot of fun. It is great trying new foods (not sure if I'd be rushing back for more crocodile though) and it's nice to reminded what a proper steak should taste like.