Hippopotamus Restaurant Grill

The ABR Holdings Group, or, in layman terms the people behind Swensen’s, has acquired franchising rights to Hippopotamus Restaurant Grill (est. 1968) all the way from Paris. Hippopotamus at Marina Square is the first outlet in Asia.

Not sure if the name Hippopotamus alludes to the size you will be after dining at the restaurant – in good faith I hope not, and by eating in moderation, probably not – but this place is big on meat. And by meat I mean beef. If you’re a carnivore through and through, then this red meat debauchery is definitely up your alley.

Tomato Tartare with Feta Cheese

For starters, I liked the tomato tartare with feta cheese. It wasn’t out of this world but it was a comfortable choice. I thought the feta cheese was lovely though; smooth and creamy. I also tried the beef tartare but that wasn’t a good experience; it was under-marinated. Some others in the tasting group ordered the beef bone marrow that’s served with bread. Unlike sup tulang (sheep bone cooked in a red food colouring frenzy and eaten with hands with zero finesse just pure enjoyment of its finger-licking goodness), the bone marrow at Hippopotamus is monstrous and brimming with a pale yellow marrow. I don’t eat tulang so I didn’t try the bone marrow at Hippopotamus but others who ordered it seemed to enjoy spreading marrow gloriously over toast. Only through with starters and we had all busted our cholesterol count.

Bone Marrow

For main course, I had a Top Sirloin ($27 if memory serves me right). The restaurant recommended that and the Rump Steak. The Top Sirloin was good, juicy and tasty and came with two sides of my choice – baked potato (the skin of the spud is coated with salt and baked – so(dium) delicious!) and green beans (meh, soggy). Although the beef was done slightly rawer than I has requested (medium) it was acceptable so perhaps, next time, I should just ask for medium rare. The Gourmet Living writer I had the pleasure of dining with seemed to enjoy his Rump Steak.

Top Sirloin

I also had half a Classic Burger but didn’t enjoy it so much; beef was under-marinated and the burger overall had a pungent flavour which I was unable to ascertain if it came from the cheese or onions.

Rump Steak

Seated in a far corner of the restaurant, a reviewer from HungryGoWhere was the only one who dared conquer Hippo’s 1.2kg steak. It was the largest slab of meat I’ve seen trying to pass off for a steak. He finished it. You can read this review here.

For desserts, definitely have the Roasted Pinapple that comes with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. I like a fruity dessert and love pinepple so the warm tart fruit paired with the cold ice cream was a nice combination. The profiteroles were not impressive; the pastry was soft and there seemed to be too much cream (I’m just not a cream person). The disappointment of the warm chocolate cake that didn’t have a molten chocolate centre that oozes out when broken into is akin to onde onde with no liquid gula melaka.

Hippopotamus is a versatile place – casual enough for a family dinner and appropriate for an executive lunch or dinner. It is the first French restaurant in Singapore I’ve eaten at with none of the posh-ness of French fine dining, or the requisite coolness and/or cigarette smoking at French bistros.

I’ll go back to Hippopotamus again for the steak, maybe order a starter to share with my dining partner but probably skip dessert.

Have you tried Hippopotamus? Thoughts?

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