Hippo Creek Waterford has been open for four months now and is across the road from Curtin University in the Waterford Plaza shopping precinct.
The Foodie Hub caught up with co-owner Daniel Gomer to talk about their latest addition and what it offers alongside their well established Hillarys and Subiaco restaurants.
Please tell us a bit about the development story of Hippo Creek,
The idea was conceptual to us just over two years ago when we were approached by the owners of Waterford Plaza. They wanted The Hippo Creek brand, it is related to quality eating and we have now been open for over four months. At Hippo Creek Waterford, we hold a Tavern License, which is very difficult to obtain in WA as Racing and Gaming impose stringent criteria for a license to be satisfied before one is issued. Essentially a tavern license means being able to drink without a meal. This differs to a restaurant license where currently a substantial meal needs to be purchased before alcohol is able to be consumed. We are a WA grown brand and now have presence in North, Central, and South of Perth. We are starting to put a footprint in WA, our brand is synonymous with good food and I am confident that 50% of the public will now be aware of our brand. We ideally are aspiring to grow that to 100%.
How would you best describe your food menu and cooking styles?
At Hippo Creek, we like to keep things fairly simple. We refer to it as “meat and potatoes” essentially but done very well. We don’t baste and we use Australian Beef. A little bit of oil, salt and pepper on a wood fired grill. If you look at the landing page of our website, there is a guy there with meat and a stick over a fire. So simple yet so good. So our cooking style is best described as almost primal – meat on the fire not tampered with. We use a wood fire and are completely about the quality of produce. We rest our steaks to get them to the right point before cooking them. We treat our meat with respect and employ talented chefs to cook it well. Each of our locations is a separate entity, we allow a certain level of freedom and our chefs rise to that by having the space to express their creative side. The base steaks are done the same across the board however things like the Vegetarian dish of the day, the Lamb dish of the day and the Surf and Turf can be done differently across our venues. We have key staff and a strong team at Hippo Creek. We have qualified chefs that work in our kitchen, so the high quality of meats we source are cooked passionately to an extremely high standard.
What are you most popular starter & main dishes at the moment? Talk us through what you think makes them such a success.
In terms of starters, the African Tasting Plate is right up there. It incorporates game meats so things like Venison, Buffalo and Ostrich. It is exotic in nature and believe the reason it is so popular is people like to come in and try new things. For me, food is about experiencing new tastes and this dish is a novelty; you can’t get it anywhere else. Our Buffalo Wings are so well received at the moment, they are something that’s new for Hippo Creek. They go down a treat. Also a favourite are our Mudhut Mushrooms.
With respect to mains, Assegai; simple as that. Assegai is marinated rump that hangs on a skewer, there is a choice of a garlic, peri peri or chilli butter melted over the meat and over a bowl of chips. People eat with their eyes and when you put something that looks delicious in front of you all of a sudden it tastes that much better straight away. Mixed plates seem to be becoming more and more popular.
Your wine list appears predominantly Australian with quite a few
quality South African wines. Talk us through the South African wines
selection process and which ones are the most popular at the moment?
Do you have other wines or drinks that really stand out & why is that?
We source our South African wines from a supplier who deals with a family owned winery called Badsberg. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting it twice when I was passing through Cape Town. They have a plum farm next door to the winery so there is a lot of fruit essence that comes across. The soils are very deep and do have a big fruit flavour so the flavours that come through have something more.
The Pinotage is probably the most popular South African wine. It is a wine that is very well known throughout Australia. It’s a very different varietal blend. I compare it to being quite similar to the Australian style Merlot. Its light, easy to drink, you can have it with red or white meat, even seafood it mixes in nicely with. Also popular we have the Babylon Touring ’03 which is a Shiraz. It’s big, it’s bold bold & has earthy tones. Would certainly recommend it to be best consumed with meat. It doesn’t have the same effect on its own. Give it a little bit of time to breathe and it is absolutely awesome. We also have a Plain Babylon which is a red blend of Cab, Shiraz & Merlot. It is a little bit more leveled out. It is not as full bodied and is a mid priced wine that has fruity tones in terms of the aroma. Overall, our South African wines are big and bold and that’s why they fit in well with our mains menu at Hippo Creek.
Hippo Creek Waterford is our first venue to have beers on tap. The majority of beers we have on tap come from the James Squire range. Their Nine Tails Pale is a beer people go mad for. Also Hahn Super Dry is popular with its crisp taste. We are the only people importing Castle into WA & have it on tap. You may know that it is a quality South African beer.
We like to do things that other people don’t. If you look at our wine list & cocktail list you’ll see there are unique items that are our point of difference. In terms of cocktails we have hired a couple of great guys who have been involved with places like Botanica and Rockpool and we have given them free reign to do what they do best behind the bar; get creative with cocktails. They use certain things that other places don’t stock. For example, Tang Sour Apple which is what I liken to a South African sour apple version of Midori. Also they use South African brandies. We afford our staff a chance to innovate behind the bar. We want them to put their name to something, to take pride in it. Like a chef feels great when they send out a succulent steak, the bartender should feel just as great when they send out a good quality cocktail. We find we get more out of our staff with this philosophy however the customer gets the most out of it as they get to sample something new. We are all about the fresh fruit tastes on the palate during the summer and when we head into winter we will base things more around the Prince Charles Blazer range.
Like a chef feels great when they send out a succulent steak, the bartender should feel just as great when they send out a good quality cocktail. We find we get more out of our staff with this philosophy however the customer gets the most out of it as they get to sample something new.
We have six different champagnes on the menu. We have Veuve Clicquot which is popular as people want to often celebrate when they go out and we most certainly cater to that. In terms of sparkling, we have Jannisson that goes down very well indeed. You may not know that we also have our own range of wine & sparkling. We have a Hippo Red, White and Sparkling. It is produced by Grape Expectations out of Manjimup WA.
Releasing soon we will have the “Big Five” release in store only, which is five different blends. They will be available in all Hippo Creeks. There are five different blends and labels. Namely, Buffalo, Leopard, Lion, Rhino, and Elephant. This is congruent with our African theme. On the labels you will find some more information on these. We are very excited by these and they are a very affordable price. We have selected the grapes we want to use, they are fresh- we aren’t going to put too much age on these.
Tell us about your roof top bar/deck. Given the great conditions Perth
has in terms of weather, how do you have it set up & what sort of
drinks/environment do you offer up there?
Yes, we have a decktop and we hold predominantly Sundays via a lounge session up there. We name it “Safari Sundays”. There is a good price on drinks, you can relax with friends, and as always there is emphasis on the quality of food. We like to offer a light hearted and fun environment. We have DJ’s up there in addition to regular weekly activities such as a body painter, one week we even has a caricature artist. We want people to come down and enjoy their day. We offer a Sunday session with a difference, we have everything anyone can offer for a Sunday session and more. We have a fantastic Bar Menu, the open air environment the deck offers and all your different sports on display.
What sort of crowd is most likely attracted to Hippo Creek, Waterford?
Apparently you have private dining- is this only aimed at Corporates
or do you do private parties?
All crowds are welcome at Hippo Creek as we have different pockets of our venue that caters – be it the student or sports fan or family or a bunch of friends catching up. The private dining can be used for that and is set up for Corporates. It has a SMART TV which is a touch TV. It is suitable for corporates, a bucks party, a 50th, a 21st, or a hens party. It was designed to offer an element of privacy. The room has its own volume settings and even temperature settings. It can be set up to whatever people want it to be or require it for. That extends to the deck up top. We can book it out for parties, groups, occasions. In the busy December period, we booked it out for private parties and even sectioned off half of it for functions which proved popular. It is an open air venue which is very rare.
The options Perth has are more extensive now when it comes to eating a
quality steak out. Where do you see the premium meat restaurant in
Perth heading over the next five years? What eating, cooking, dining &
socialising trends do you see as emerging or do you think will
increase in popularity over this time period? Do you see any niches in
the market that you plan to focus in on and you can share with us?
In terms of niches in the market we believe this venue offers and allows a lot of sport to be enjoyed by the sports fan. We can have three different sports at any one time via Foxtel and one free to air on. So, if the Cricket was on free to air, we could play that alongside three different sports on Foxtel. We have six TV’s and we will be getting one up on the deck. It is a sports fans paradise, you have good beer, food and sports.
With respect to trends, I really see high tables coming into fashion. Instead of people sitting down on a traditional table which feels a bit more formal, the high table seating allows a more relaxed feeling and there is an option of standing. People want an air of being taken care of with hospitality being predominantly food and drinks but people are also after a homely feel. If they want to sit down or stand up, they want to feel relaxed and the high tables are perfect for this. You can stand up in the middle of a conversation and not feel weird.
In terms of trends in food, steak houses go through 20 year cycles. People like us, a thoroughbred steak house built our reputation on a wood fired char grill. Some newer restaurants are using wood fired char grills now however again we are all about and heavily focused upon the quality of our produce. The people who do a steak well, like us, can expect to be around in 20 years whereas others that are not doing so well will be likely to not. People are always on the lookout for good quality and value for money. We price at the higher end for steak but this is relative we believe to the quality grade of meats we offer and our drink pricing is not extortionate.
Another point is consistency, we are always striving for a consistent experience for our customers. We are open to suggestions. We welcome feedback. That touches on another trend I think we will see more emphasis on in the industry – consistency. The reason behind this is I believe the customer will drive the trends.
Hippo Creek Waterford has the potential to become one of the best pubs in Western Australia. The options set up with the sports bar and the deck plus the private room alongside the different seating options, the bar menu, the restaurant menu, our quality of food and drinks, our team here to service the public to a high standard- we really believe the experience you will have at Hippo Creek Waterford will be a pleasurable, catering and fun one and certainly compelling value for money.
You can remain updated by liking Hippo Creek on Facebook.
(08) 6141 9800 Address
Shop 55, Waterford Plaza,
Cnr Manning Road & Kent Street,
Karawara, Western Australia 6152
Need directions? Click here
LUNCH & DINNER
Monday to Saturday
11:30am – 12am
11:30am – 10pm