Hippopotamus

How does this steakhouse stack up against other mall eateries? Reviews

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If not for the cheerful dancing hippo, you might miss Hippopotamus. Just to one side of the main entrance of City Centre, at first glance it’s not overly appealing. Like many other mall restaurants, the designers have tried to create a patio feel that, since it’s indoors and mere inches from coffee shops and stores that sell shoes, mostly ends up feeling like a cafeteria.

But we’re beckoned inside by yummy smells wafting from the interior, so after slogging through the café tables and fake plants, we make it to the restaurant proper. Inside, you forget you’re in a mall. Decorated to give a sense of casual chic, it’s not too fancy, but nor is it the kind of restaurant where the servers wear pieces of flair. The walls are decorated with sketches of hippos dancing and cavorting around the Eiffel tower – the restaurant is a well known French chain.

Once seated we peruse the menu and are shocked at the prices. In my many years of wandering around malls, it always seems to be that the restaurants within are either food-court-cheap or pricey. This one leans more towards the reasonable end of the scale, which makes us wary: are we about to unwrap our dishes from cardboard containers?

First up, we try the big munchies cone: combining wings, onion rings, mozzarella sticks and other bits of fried delight, it sounds like the perfect place to start (what, after all, is the point of dining in a mall if you don’t indulge in deep fried cheese?), but alas, my dreams of greasy glory are dashed: they don’t have mozzarella sticks, or one or two other items meant to be in the cone. After a brief discussion, we decide to replace these items with extra of what they do have, and wait with baited tongues.

When it arrives, it is just as advertised: a cone full of things, surrounded by several little dishes of dipping sauce. The wings are good, tangy and meaty, and taste fresh, a pleasant change from the typically bleak chicken-wing landscape of Qatar. But the onion rings – such promise, dashed by an over-enthusiastic fry cook. Some are just a little crispy, some are well done. And some are just burnt.

Unimpressed so far, we go for mains – for my dining companion, one of the many hearty burgers and fries. She goes for the cheeseburger. For myself, I try a steak – the menu here is actually pretty helpful, moreso than at other venues, where those of us who don’t often order slabs of cow are often left baffled as to what part, exactly, we’re ordering. I opt for the tenderloin. All the steaks come with unlimited sauces, and to start I go for the pepper, barbecue and bearnaise.

After the slightly disastrous cone experience, I’m waiting with fingers and toes crossed that I won’t be seeking alternate dining arrangements when our food arrives. When it does, I’m not disappointed. The steak is hearty, a good size and thickness, and cooked just as I requested – slightly pink (which is apparently harder to achieve than anticipated, as I’ve received everything from charcoal briquettes to steaks oozing blood when I’ve ordered it that way at other restaurants). The sauces are tangy and rich, although I prefer the bearnaise to the barbecue. The steak is tender, juicy, and way better than what I’ve had at other chains in malls – not to mention the portion is bigger, for what feels like a very reasonable price. My friend isn’t disappointed either; burgers, although hypothetically simple, can be works of art. Her burger is massive, soft and oozing flavour, with piles of meat and toppings.

The service is pretty good too; usually in mall chains, we find ourselves doing the needy please-come-serve-me flag dance with our arms to get attention, but here our server and the manager stop by several times to check everything is good, refill the bread or our drinks, and even offer us a loyalty card.

By the time we’ve cleaned our plates, we’re stuffed, but the dessert menu beckons. My friend opts for chocolate cake, while I go for the chocolate mousse, and she’s immediately jealous and looking
for a second spoon once it arrives – thick and luscious, it’s smooth, creamy and rich, and all that a mousse should be, and I will definitely be back for round two next time I have a bad day that can only be cured by chocolate.

Is Hippopotamus fancy? No. Does it have a special room in which children can be corralled with bright toys and games? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. More importantly, the portions are generous without overwhelming you with plates better described as ‘platters’, and the quality of the food itself is high for a mall eatery – we may have found our preferred spot for dinner and a movie.

The bill (for two)
1x big munchies cone
QR38
1x tenderloin QR92
1x cheeseburger QR48
1x chocolate mousse QR30
1x chocolate cake QR46
1x water QR25
2x Coca-Cola QR26
2x capuccino QR30
Total (incl charges) QR335

By Time Out Doha staff
Time Out Doha,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.

Details

  • Location: City Centre Doha, West Bay, Doha
  • Tel: 4411 5253
  • Travel: Conference Centre Street
  • Cuisine: Steakhouses
  • Times: Open Sat-Thu 11am-midnight; Fri 1pm-midnight
  • Price: QR200-350
  • Credit Cards Accepted: Yes

Is this your establishment? Want to update any details? Please send your updates here.

Hippopotamus On The Map

User reviews:

Posted by: Walid on 22 May ' 13 at 12:07

Awful steaks, terrible service

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