Check out the video above for my Vlog of Hippopotamus's Burger Experience
Wellington on a Plate is the most exciting time in the Wellington calendar. And I've been very excited about this year's Burger Wellington event, especially with the promise of a delicious and somewhat different sounding sweet burger from the brightest jewel in the crown of the Wellington Restaurant scene, Hippopotamus Restaurant.
Two weeks ago Hippopotamus had a preview of their Wellington on a Plate menu. I was asked to undergo the horrific task of trying the menu in advance. I know - it's a rough life. In all seriousness, I could hardly believe my luck and was positively foaming at the mouth as I walked into the hotel on a quiet Wednesday night and proceeded upstairs to Wellington's most esteemed restaurant.
"Hippotamus always makes me feel like I'm an extra in the movie 'Marie Antoinette' by Sofia Coppola - and that's a very good thing"
On arriving, I had my coat taken and plonked myself at the bar on a deep furnished chair with gold leaf. I felt like royalty already and I'd only just sat down! The decor alone is worth going along to Hippopotamus for - it always makes me feel like I'm an extra in the movie 'Marie Antoinette' by Sofia Coppola - and that's a very good thing in my eyes.
After making chit-chat for a while with some very lovely Wellington social media folk/PR gurus/the legend that is David Burton, I noticed some incredible cocktails were being whipped up by the experienced (and dashing) bar staff. One thing I noticed about the special Welly on a Plate menu is that everything has a sensational name, one that makes you want to eat the dish before you've even seen it. The cocktail on that evening was called 'The Black Pearl' - and let me assure you it went down very easy for this girl. My Black Pearl was accompanied by The Drunken Nany goat's cheese croustillant and Lepanto kalamata olives - very light and full of creamy, salty, herby, oily flavours.
Shortly after, we were guided to the table to dine. I couldn't help but keep gawking at all the beautiful art in the restaurant. The former owner, Chris Parkin, sure knew his stuff and has amassed an incredible stash of art - my art history brain was going mad (I studied it at Uni). A little bird told me that the Hotel is soon changing to QT Hotel branding - the new owners. QT have promised to keep the Museum hotel art and give the place some extra love, which is really exciting - another evolution in this much-loved Wellington hotel's long life.
"Back at the table, a new dish appeared before my eyes."
Back at the table, a new dish appeared before my eyes. The entree was a stunning feast of Lighthouse Gin with Six Barrel Soda Co. cucumber, mint and lemon gel. I loved that the Hippopotamus Chef Laurent Loudeac has collaborated with local producers like Six Barrel Soda to produce incredible international level dishes. It shows real innovation while supporting the Wellington business and food community. The entree may well have been my favourite of the four courses - it was fresh and light with plenty of salmon and tasty tiny micro greens.
The main course was a swap and drop choice between locally caught fish fillet with bouillabaisse sauce, creamed leek and potato pearls with a 2015 'The Elder' Pinot Noir or Wairarapa beef fillet pot-au-feu style with sauteed bone marrow, garlic and parsley crouton with a 2014 'The Elder' Pinot Noir. I found the beef before me and was quite content NOT to suggest sharing it. It was rich, voluptuous with just the right amount of garlic to give it a kick (and I love me-self some garlic, boy). Unfortunately, I ate it in such a yummy rush that I only took one photo. Nevermind, you'll just have to go and order it yourself to see what it looks like!
"These ingenious folk have truly brought us a delicious, sweet Wellington burger that we'll all be talking about for years to come"
Finally, however, it was time for the creme de la creme. Or should I say the Burger de la Burger? Oh yes. We were presented with the incredible Burger Wellington Desert Burger. Titled 'Sweet As Burger' it somehow was a mixture of Whittakers Dark Ghana parfait wth Whittaker white chocolate pannacotta, raspberry jelly, mint and kiwifruit, Kapiti vanilla creme fraiche and sweet polenta fries. This burger was so sweet it was incredible. Definitely one for the sweet tooth Wellington on a Plate lover. I had a lot of fun smashing it and dipping my polenta fries in the 'tomato sauce'. I particularly marvelled at the sweet 'cheese' - which was just like processed cheese but not salty. How do they do it, eh?
As I left, it felt like the most wonderful end of all evenings. I was thoroughly watered, fed and very very content. If you want a special Wellington on a Plate experience this year. you MUST head to Hippopotamus and try the 'Sweet As Burger'. You will not be disappointed. Hats off the Museum Hotel, QT Hotel's and Hippopotamus restaurant. These ingenious folk have truly brought us a delicious, sweet Wellington burger we'll all be talking about for years to come.
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