The Fat Hippo Underground: A Review

Located on Shakespeare Street, down some stairs and into the belly of Newcastle, is The Fat Hippo. Welcome to what could become one of my favourite places to get serious treat food. The Fat Hippo serve burgers, and not just your standard burgers; I am talking delicious beef, pork, chicken, and veggie burgers in brioche buns, with juices and sauces dripping from every inch of them. You can upgrade to sweet potato fries too. Can you see why I was sold? If not, then check out the “Naughty Shakes”: alcoholic milkshakes that taste dangerously virgin…

We chose to head to the hippo post drama assessment (we had to perform. It’s part of my creative writing degree. I have no idea why, don’t judge me). We needed to celebrate our release from rehearsing each and every week in order to have gotten our farcical choice of play en pointe (to be quite honest, I ended up having a lot of fun, and I’ll miss my drama crew). I had looked at the menu for this restaurant before, but had never quite managed to get there somehow.  It seemed appropriate that on a day we’d been thespians we should head to “Shakespeare Street” though. Now, recently I’ve been off meat. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but even chicken isn’t tempting me. I’ve been eating a mainly pescatarian diet, but there is no fish on this menu (obviously), which meant I would be sampling the veggie burgers they had on offer. I find that veggie/bean burgers are often not just bad, but really bad, and so it’s safe to say I was fairly sceptical.

When we arrived at The Fat Hippo, the first thing we were asked was “Have you booked?”. It was 5pm. It gets very busy here apparently. Thankfully there was a table we could use, but they needed it in about an hour and half. It wasn’t the best welcome from the staff, but at least we were given a table. Even if they did seem to keep hovering, we assumed in an attempt to hurry us up. But, I have to say that the service in general seemed fast, and not just a ploy to get us to leave. Burgers were coming out left, right, and centre, with surprising speed. First things first we ordered drinks: naughty shakes all round. I opted for the “It’s Not Terry’s” from the four on offer, which is a chocolate milkshake with Double Cointreau. Once you’ve tasted one of these, there is no going back, and they (like everything here) come in hefty portions. One of my friends chose the MilkyBar version, starring Baileys, Amaretto, and vanilla ice cream. The other two shakes are PB & Jack (peanut butter, Jack Daniels, honey, vanilla ice cream), or The Irish One (Jamesons, Kahula, espresso, vanilla ice cream).

The burgers are also immense- not for the faint hearted. I chose (with much trepidation) the Spicy Bean Burger, which comes with sweet chilli sauce. The other two veggie options were The Temple of Shroom (battered mushroom, Fat Hippo sauce, gherkin, cheese), or The Veggie Gastro (bean burger, sundried tomatoes, rocket, pesto mayo, mozzarella). Not fancying cheese or deep fried mushrooms, this seemed the best option. Plus it came with sweet chilli sauce. Well. I have to say that this could possibly be THE best bean burger I have experienced in my short life so far. It is also probably one of the best burgers, full stop, that I have experienced so far. It’s the Hippo’s own handmade recipe, is flavourful, and has just enough of a kick for all of you spice wimps out there. The sweet chilli sauce doesn’t detract from the flavour of the bean patty, and the texture isn’t like polystyrene. In fact it was just as juicy looking as the Texas and American beef burgers my three dining companions ordered. At least, all of our hands were just as dirty after we’d finished.

What about sides? Well, I can recommend the sweet potato fries. You all know that in my opinion nothing can been Ernest sweet potato fries, but these came in at about a 6 or 7/10 on the sweet potato fries scale. You can upgrade to these fries from normal for a little extra cost (I think around £1- don’t hold me to that though), or to skinny fries. I sampled the dirty skins that were shoved under my nose by my friends (double fried potato skins, hippo sauce, bacon bits- which I picked off, much to one of my fellow actors disgust); I picture these as an ideal hangover cure to be honest, if you’re someone who craves greasy and stomach lining food. The onion rings too made an appearance on our table, and again they aren’t particularly my thing. If you like your batter crisp and with that dripping just-out-of-the-fryer personality, then order them. If you like your rings slightly drier and with a higher onion: batter ratio opt for something else.

To sum it up, this is (and there’s quite a contrast in the things I’m about to propose) a great spot to take friends, your date on date night (if you can watch someone eat one of these burgers with all of the lack of finesse we did, then you may want to put a ring on that), or to pick up a hangover  cure. For the latter they even have Hangover 3 Chicken Burger. Just don’t do it too often- you may just end up resembling the coveted Hippo symbol emblazoned everywhere.

http://www.fat-hippo.co.uk/page/underground
2-6 Shakespeare Street,
Newcastle upon Tyne,
NE1 6AQ.

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