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QT Wellington Announces Return of Hippopotamus Restaurant & Cocktail Bar

Posted on: 09 February 2021
Award-winning Wellington restaurant reopens 11th February with a renewed focus on local ingredients and theatrics

QT Wellington’s award-winning Hippopotamus Restaurant and Cocktail Bar will reopen its doors on 11th February. A recipient of Two Hats by Cuisine Magazine, the flamboyant French-inspired restaurant is making a triumphant return to the dining scene. Under the direction of Hippopotamus’ expert food and beverage duo, Executive Chef Jiwon Do and Restaurant Manager and Head Sommelier Florent Souche, the new menu will continue to celebrate sustainable New Zealand producers and a theatrical dining style – all while maintaining its famous French flair.

While last year saw Hippopotamus operating on a pop-up basis for special events and themed menu offerings, the restaurant remained top of mind for local locals and visitors. Ranked in Restaurant Hub’s Top 10 Most In-Demand Restaurants, Hippopotamus affirmed its status as a Wellington institution.

QT Wellington General Manager Ian Charlton says, “Wellington, we’ve missed you and can’t wait to welcome you back through our doors. We’re so happy to be back in full swing in an exciting new way. We loved rising to the creative challenges 2020 presented and plan to continue refreshing our menus around the changing seasons and special occasions. There will always be something new and exciting to look forward to on the Hippo menu.”

Premium Kiwiana ingredients meet French flair

Much loved for its popular high teas, degustation dinners and quirky cocktails, Hippopotamus will retain its famed offerings with a renewed focus on sustainability and sourcing premium ingredients from the very best suppliers in the Wellington region and across New Zealand.  Chef Jiwon expertly weaves ethically sourced ingredients into unexpected and experimental flavour combinations, all using classic French cooking techniques.

Chef Jiwon calls this concept ‘the new gourmet’, saying, “Eating local is becoming more and more important, changing our definition and perception of ‘gourmet’. Rather than fine dining, the term is morphing to mean sustainable, local and high quality. I’m really passionate about delivering the story of our local farmers, producers and crafters of New Zealand foods, so every dish comes with a narrative or anecdote.”

Chef Jiwon has continued to build meaningful relationships with New Zealand suppliers, learning about ingredients’ origins and visiting them at the source. Some notable producers featured on the menu include Awatoru Wild Food venison and foraged native herbs and flowers, Ōra King salmon, Coastal Lamb, Lot Eight cold-pressed olive oil and Pāmu deer milk.

Claim a front-row seat to theatrical dining

Theatrics and experiential dining will also be front and centre on the menu. Guests can enjoy a gueridon service spectacle when ordering two local meat dishes, the Carré d’Agneau rack of Coastal Lamb and Hippopotamus’ much-loved Chateaubriand, now featuring a prime cut of Greenstone Creek aged beef fillet. Both are theatrically carved on a tableside trolley, with a selection of New Zealand seasoning salts, and finished with a choice of sauce and a spritz of aromatic olive oil for flavour enhancement.

On the sweet side, Hippo’s classic yet dramatic Crêpes Suzette remains a hero of the menu, flambéed in orange syrup and Grand Marnier tableside and served with local Zelati’s vanilla gelato.

Guests can choose from two, three or six courses, with the six-course degustation discovery menu featuring an optional wine match per dish. An a la carte add-on menu includes selections like oysters, palate cleansers, a cheese course and a variety of sides.

Valentine’s Day offers include Chocolate High Tea and Degustation Dinner

Hippo’s famous High Tea will also return on Saturdays and Sundays, with a rotating offering around the seasons or themed to complement holidays or local Wellington events. For the first six weeks, 13 February to 21 March, Hippo’s Choc and Awe High Tea is an all-out celebration of chocolate. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the menu includes not only five sweet selections, but a scrumptious selection of savouries. Think Black Cocoa Crusted Wild Venison and a Chocolate Stout Braised Beef Cheek Pie to complement the sugar hit.

In celebration of opening weekend, Hippopotamus will also host a special Valentine’s Day degustation dinner on 14th February. The six course degustation menu features Mumm Champagne on arrival, followed by a discovery of New Zealand cuisine – from Clevedon oysters to Nelson’s Viavio stracciatella tortellini, Ōra King tyee salmon and aged Greenstone Creek beef fillet.


To see Hippopotamus’ opening hours, new offerings and to peruse menus, visit:

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