An african watering hole called Hippo Creek, Hillarys
Hippo Creek seems to be taking over Perth by storm. This South African style steakhouse started in a little eatery in Scarborough many years ago and now has popped up in Subiaco, Karawara and Hillarys. I'm sure a Northbridge or Perth CBD venue is not far off from opening too given this city's love of deliciously cooked meat. After all, when you look how well these restaurants have done in conjunction with places like Lapa and Tony Romas etc, meat is loved by Perthies.
It's Jeremy's mum's birthday so we've taken her, his dad and his little brother out for a delicious dinner at Hillary's Hippo Creek. Thankfully we booked for our party of five, because not long after we arrived the line for diners waiting for a table was extremely long (out the door!). None of us have been here before but we've all heard great things and are pretty excited for the meal that awaits us.
Since we've heard the servings sizes are rather generous here, we skip having an entree each and choose three for the table. The birthday girl chooses the Mud Huts ($15) which are button mushrooms filled with cream cheese, spinach and semi-dried tomato, crumbed and fried. They comes with a side of garlic aioli dipping sauce.
I have to admit these were pretty great. I love mushrooms but I hadn't been expecting any wow factor - which I am happy to admit I was wrong to think! There's a great crunch as you bite into these steaming hot mushrooms; and the filling is flavoursome without being overly intense. The definite winner is that garlic aioli which is creamy but not too thick. It has real zest to it and livens up each bite.
Jeremy's eleven year old brother is fascinated by the idea of the snails on the menu, and as big fans ourselves, we decide to add them as one of the share items. They come out sauteed in garlic and white wine on a salad of diced tomato, rocket and shaved parmesan ($15). Jeremy and I are the only ones on the table who have eaten snails before but everyone is game to try them - and all enjoy the taste once they get past what it is they're actually eating. The snails are soft and chewy; the flavours strong but deliciously so. While they're definitely different to how I've eaten them in the past, they go down a treat.
We round out our starters with Garlic Bread ($7.50). It's a mini-baguette sliced into four that is packed full of buttery, garlicky goodness. Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, it's everything garlic bread should be and a reasonable price seeing as so many places charge ridiculous prices for this these days.
We move onto our mains after a decent time allowing us to digest the food we've eaten so far. The selection of food ranges for us all. Jeremy's dad chooses a special of the night which is oven roasted snapper with pesto and macadamia crust on a salad with walnuts, rocket and blue cheese ($37). The snapper is flaky and cooked properly; the pesto vibrant. He laughs as he explains the face he makes mid-bite - the blue cheese is plentiful and extremely intense! But he's the first to clean up his plate entirely and with a big satisfied smile.
Both Jeremy and his younger brother choose the Hunter's Assaghai for their meals which comes in a 350gram serving ($36) or 500grams ($44). It's marinated cubes of rump on a skewer hanging over a bowl of fries with a choice of garlic or chilli butter dripping down on top. It comes with a nice little side salad to enjoy with the overwhelming serving of meat.
The chips here are incredible. Salty, crunchy and a tiny bit oily. They work well with the river of butter that flows down on top. Oh so naughty but oh so good at the same time!
Though he can eat a big serving of food, I can tell Jeremy's definitely regretted getting the 500 gram serving. It's a lot of meat and though he gets through it, he's spent by the end. This is the dish to get if you like your meals big and red-meat based.
Chicken breast combo
For her meal, his mother chooses the Chicken Breast Combo ($39). It's flame grilled lemon and herb marinated chicken breast served with garlic prawns on a skewer, creamy mash, asparagus and topped with a creamy garlic sauce. While I'm not a person who usually orders a big hunk of chicken as a meal, it looks really nice. It has a good selection of flavours and textures on the plate and the amount of prawns you get on the skewer is more than I expected. She especially likes how silky the mash is.
For my main I go straight to the steaks - after all, we are in a steak house. I choose the Black Angus 200 day gain fed +2 Marble score section, opting for the 250gram fillet cut ($42). It comes out beautifully presented on a thick wooden board with chips (you can choose mash or baked potato as alternatives) on side and garlic butter sauce. I also get a serving of mushroom sauce on the side to dip my chips in.
The steak was ordered rare and my first few bites I have to say were on the medium to well side. But once I got in a bit more, there was the gloriously red flesh I had been looking for. The steak is wonderful quality; tender and melt-in-you-mouth. The chips, as mentioned earlier, are amazing. While I had wanted to try the garlic butter, I have to admit it wasn't my sort of condiment. But that's where the mushroom sauce came in handy. It was decadently creamy and full of flavour. Easily one of the best I've ever had and will be on my mind next time I come back here.
I have to say that this place really was a great night out. It's children friendly, with efficient staff and a great selection of food to choose from. And though it is a little pricier than say your Outback Jacks etc, the serving sizes more than make up for it. Plus, as an added bonus when you factor in the use of the Entertainment Card (its in the gold section), we saved ourselves $50 - definitely an added bonus!