Saturday, April 30, 2011

Chocolate High Tea at Hippopotamus, Wellington

While this may seem Royal Wedding appropriate, I assure you it's not related. ;-) Though we did go and watch it with friends, it was more about the friends (okay, so I like a pretty dress as much as the next person and would have watched it anyway, but Mr Cake may have been scratching his eyes out if he was stuck in our little apartment with just me and the wedding - so it seemed sensible to join our friends, where he had other males to keep him sane and where we played Royal Wedding Bingo and had fun as well as keeping an eye on the proceedings) than the wedding. Apologies if anyone is disappointed I didn't replicate William's biscuit wedding cake or anything. ;-)

This high tea was actually last weekend, an Easter event. We'd never been to Hippopotamus restaurant, though we've heard plenty of good reports, and the chocolate high tea seemed like a good first visit. We weren't the other ones who thought it was a good idea - all the available tables were set, and though we were among the earlier diners by the time we were left it was bustling.

Each diner had their own matching cup, saucer and plate trio, and the tea was served in matching teapots. The china differed between the tables, which made it feel nicely homely but still well coordinated, if you know what I mean. I don't mind quirky mismatched china but I think it might have been a bit strange in such a fancy restaurant. Anyway: pretty cups!

As well as a selection of teas a 'chocolate' cocktail was included - I believe it was white chocolate and some kind of citrus, but we didn't actually get the rundown - pretty tasty, not something I'd usually choose (I'm not too much into cocktails, though). I also had a ginger tea, which was really nice, with a very zingy ginger kick to it which was enough to make me enjoy it (I'm also not usually a tea drinker - a bit boring on the beverage side, me!).  The tea was poured for us and we were regularly offered top ups - though the waiters were clearly quite busy they were certainly attentive.

We were seated by the window so the view was lovely, and there were plenty of families out enjoying the long weekend, so there wasn't a chance we'd be bored at any stage, but we didn't have to wait long before we were presented with a tower of treats.

The bottom tier featured savoury items - puff pastry tarts with chutney; cucumber sandwiches; salmon crostini; and mushroom, onion and brie on rye bread. All the morsels were delicious, and I particularly enjoyed the salmon - the fish tasted very fresh and cleansing and the bread was nice and crunchy, so texturally it had it all. The chutney in the puff pastry tart was also very tasty - I believe it featured apricots, so it had that nice sweet/savoury balance. 

The middle tier was round one of chocolatey treats, with a macaron, a chocolate-filled profiterole, and a white chocolate cup for each of us to try. I found the macaron really disappointing, as though it looked the real deal it was very hard and crunchy - so far as I'm aware macarons should have a very distinct chewiness in the centre, and take on flavour and moisture from the filling. This was quite dry - really more a chocolate meringue. The profiterole was nice, though a little soggy, and the chocolate filling was rich and just my style. The white chocolate cup was my favourite of the three, with a creamy, rich centre and plenty of vanilla flavour through it. 

The top tier was clearly the fancy save-till-last stuff - chocolate mousse in wee glasses, and mille feuille with chocolate filling and icing. The mille feuille was okay - again, the pastry was a bit too soggy, but the filling good - but definitely not something I'd bother with again. The mousse was lovely and rich, and had marshmallow hidden in it for that extra Easter emphasis. It was topped with rose petals, pine nuts and pear, and though the pear was nice enough I found the pine nuts a bit jarring - the flavour of them remained with me long after the mousse was gone, despite the pine nuts vanishing in the first mouthful - so though the topping was pretty I would have enjoyed it more without the nuts!

When all the chocolate was gone we received a madeleine each, as a final touch. These were hot and fresh, light and fluffy and a great ending to the chocolate overload.

Overall we felt it was pretty good, a fun way to spend an afternoon, but some of the food didn't quite live up to expectations. I was also a bit disappointed the chef wasn't more creative - I had thought that maybe chocolate might have been incorporated into the savoury items and perhaps I'd meet some more unusual food items - and the macaron would have counted had it been chewy!

We did enjoy it, though - it's always good to do something special and perhaps my expectations were set too high - and I am keen to visit Hippopotamus for dinner sometime.

Did you experience a chocolate overload last weekend, or were you restrained and sensible, very unlike me? ;-)

Hippopotamus is located in the Museum Hotel, 90 Cable Street, Wellington, ph 04 803 8935,


  1. I went to High Tea at Hippopotamus a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't the chocolate version, but it still contained a couple of chocolate pieces. One was a chocolate fudge concoction that was far too rich for me. The other, one of the small choc cups which was also too rich for me (I'm a chocolate weakling). I much preferred the savoury options, which included duck, salmon, and potato galette.

    I think the best sweet bit was the madeleine at the end. Still warm and not too sweet. Lovely.

    No easter eggs for me :-)

  2. Kaz, you sound like my ideal high tea dining companion - I could trade savoury for the deadly rich chocolatey things which I dearly love. ;-) The galette does sound yummy, though. That madeleine was very good (I've corrected my mistake, don't know if you spotted it!) - anything fresh out of the oven can win a bit of my heart. ;-)

  3. How civilized, I love high tea. I didn't have any chocolate for easter, easter bunnybforgot to drop by so when I saw Lindt bunnies on sale this week and treated myself to errrr, quite a few.

  4. Yum, I love those Lindt bunnies. ;-)

  5. I won't want to move away from the table when I am served like this hehehe... Lovely choices there!

  6. Arfi, I know. At the end we were wondering if we kept sitting if they would keep bringing us food. ;-)


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