Last night I was invited to join Natalia and her family for a birthday dinner at Hippo Creek. I had been wanting to try it out ever since seeing the new one open up at Sorrento Quay in Hillarys. I knew that it was an African style restaurant with an emphasis on meat, but I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I had a look at the menu beforehand, and that’s when I realised I was going to be eating steak. There are some slight differences between the three venues at Subiaco, Hillarys and the original in Scarborough; but they are all, without a doubt, steak houses.
The exterior of the building was a little underwhelming in comparison to Hillarys, but inside it is decorated beautifully with lots of wood, gnarly twisted grapevines, and slightly intimate lighting. It was obvious that considerable thought had been given to providing a comfortable, beautiful and luxurious setting for diners, whilst maintaining the rustic African theme that makes Hippo Creek what it is. The owners had even gone to the effort of installing what appeared to be accoustic panels on the ceiling to reduce noise, but despite this it was still a tad noisy.
I am not a big steak eater to be honest, but I quickly got in the mood whilst reading the ‘meat menu’. The steaks are described in extensive detail including breed, what the cow was fed, where it came from, and it’s marble score which indicates how much intramuscular fat is in the meat. There are some rather interesting items on the food menu such as crocodile roulade, oxtail croquette, pork belly, and snail pastries; but also several chicken, fish, lamb and beef dishes for the less adventurous. I quickly settled on the 600 day grain fed wagyu rump, and most other people at our table also went for steak.
Garlic bread ($8)
We ordered garlic bread as an appetiser, but there was a mix up and our bread went to the table next to us. The staff quickly realised this mistake without us saying anything, and promised they would make some more and we wouldn’t be charged for it. It’s nice to see wait staff take this sort of initiative and it certainly improved our experience. What made it even better though, was the quality of the garlic bread once it arrived. It was absolutely incredible! They used a deliciously soft sourdough long roll which was baked whole, with garlicy butter-filled slices. Considering how simple garlic bread should be, I’ve been served a lot of very poor attempts at it in my time. But this was probably the best I’ve ever had. Big call, I know.
Linen napkin with a hardcore steak knife.
The mains came out not long after, in quick succession. The plating was simple but beautiful with nice tableware and heavy duty cutlery. The steaks came with a choice of two-root mash (parsnip & potato), fries, baked potato or sadza (cooked corn meal) and a choice of sauce. There were also several options of cut for each type of beef but we all went with the cheaper rump, which is a good cut if it is cooked well.
Certified Australian Angus Beef 120 Day Grain Fed Angus Beef Marble score of +1, from NSW. 500g rump ($35)
Natalia went for the fries and garlic butter with her Angus. It was more fatty around the edges than my steak but it had an excellent flavour. She asked for well done (which is just wrong!) and it came out with a slight pink centre in the thickest part, which she would have preferred not to have been there. I thought it was a tad overdone though.
Cape Grim Beef 120 Day Grass Fed Angus Beef Marble score +1, from Tasmania. 500g rump ($38)
Neco and Amy both had the Cape Grim served medium-rare with mash. There was plenty of red on the plate by the time they were done and they both enjoyed their steaks immensely.
600 Day Grain Fed F1 Wagyu Marble Score +5, from QLD, NSW and VIC. 300g rump ($46)
My medium cooked wagyu came out on a Japanese style slate board which I liked (Wagyu literally means ‘Japanese cow’). It had fine veins of marbled fat all through it which, for the most part, was soft and juicy. There were a few bits that bordered on chewy, but the meat itself was butter-soft and cooked to perfection. It was my first time trying wagyu and it has a very different flavour to angus. I asked for the blue cheese sauce which was pretty good too. The mash was amazing, but I couldn’t finish it all.
Assegai; 400g marinated Angus rump served on a skewer hanging over a bowl of fries with peri-peri butter ($40)
The bithday boy Paul ordered the assegai which was an impressive sight. The peri butter at the top melted from the rising heat of the steak and dripped down over everything (as intended). He managed to finish every last bit.
Chicken ceasar salad ($23)
Despite being very full, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for dessert, and I’m so glad that we did. There were 5 or 6 options which each sounded delicious and a little bit different.
Chocolate trio to share: Belgian chocolate brownie, white chocolate brulee and choc mint gelato ($18)
Neco and I shared the chocolate trio. Each element was very good, but I didn’t find it that cohesive as an overall dish and it wasn’t very chocolately – the name was a bit deceptive really. I was probably just a bit jealous of the other desserts which were spectacularly presented.
Steamed brown ale pudding with butterscotch sauce and pecan icecream ($13)
Icecream with mars bar sauce ($8)
Profiteroles with peanut butter icecream and chocolate sauce ($13)
Overall, the service was excellent. Our water was topped up regularly, until someone at our table asked if the decanter could just be left with us, which was no problem. There was a slight language barrier with the french sounding waitress who took our orders (she didn’t know how to pronounce wagyu) but she was very attentive and friendly. We did have to ask for dessert menus after our table was cleared, but they were happy to bring them out despite it being almost 10pm and the restaurant being mostly empty. We even had a group photo taken cheerfully by one of the waiters at the end of the night.
If you like to eat meat, you will like Hippo Creek. Be prepared to pay quite a bit though because it isn’t cheap. The Subiaco restaurant also has an extensive wine list and a variety of cheeses if you’re into that sort of thing. Bookings are essential most nights.