WOP: The taste of happy

by Robyn on August 18, 2011

Avian parlourSo, a couple more excursions to restaurants with Wellington on a Plate menus. I’m considering going to the Warehouse and buying a pair of elastic-waisted trackpants for the rest of Wellington on a Plate.

Most recently I paid a visit to Cuba Street icon Floriditas and Hippopotamus at the Museum Hotel.

Floriditas

Floriditas had a Wellington on a Plate menu – two courses and a wine for $35, and also a Burger Wellington entry for $18 or $25 with a beer. My eye was drawn to the dessert menu this time, so I decided to go for a main and dessert.

Unlike the other restaurants I’ve been to this week, there were no bread rolls at Floriditas, so I was forced to fiddle with my napkin and – gasp – make conversation as my tablemates with entrees enjoyed theirs.

But I did learn that the grilled halloumi with an olive and lemon salad and flatbread entree was really good. The olives in particular – green and sliced lengthways – looked amazing.

My main course was grilled chicken with white bean puree, radicchio and mint slaw. The bean puree was like a runny hummus and was maybe a little sloppier than I would have liked. The grilled chicken was great – a slightly smoky taste from the grill, but good and tender. This coupled with the vibrant topping of radichio made it all seem like quite a healthy dish, though I’m secretly hoping there was some butter hidden away in it.

Purple hat

As for dessert, what caught my eye was a milk and dark chocolate meringue with hazelnuts, served with orange-toffee sauce.

Chocolate, hazelnuts, orange? Yes, go on.

It was as good as it sounded. A lovely crisp meringue with chocolate and walnut bits throughout it. It was also topped with what I think was mascarpone. This helped balance out the flavours and sweetness of the meringue, as well as complementing the dark chocolate. The orange sauce, like the white bean puree, suffered from being a little runny. But maybe that’s just something I don’t like.

Desserted

Please note: I did not actually think all this when I was eating it. I was more concerned with getting it in my mouf.

My tablemates enjoyed their selections from the menu, including the burger. It was an enjoyable lunch at Floriditas, and bonus points for them arranging a big table for our expanding-shrinking group.

Hippopotamus

On the third floor of the Museum Hotel, the setting for Hippopotamus is a little bit eccentric, stuffed full of art, chandeliers and lady couches. But the man in the kitchen, chef Laurent Loudeac, brings good French cuisine to the menu.

One unwanted side effect of going to a French restaurant – the French waiters call me ‘madame’, which signifies not just marriage but is used when a woman is of a certain age. I want to be like an old maid going, “Non! Non! Je suis mademoiselle – and don’t you forget it, sonny!”

I ordered the burger, named the Skinny Hip’. It’s vegetarian and gluten free, consisting of garlic-roasted mushroom with tomatoes, rocket, balsamic syrup, a corn fritter, halloumi and a poached egg on a bun, served with fries.

But first – bread roll watch. We were offered bread rolls, with a choice of either plain or walnut, with slightly firm butter on the table. But not only that – there were roll refills. I had three. Arrgh! Why did I have three? I need an iPhone app called TableMum to alert me saying “Now, you’ve already had two and you still have to have the burger. Do you really think you can fit another one?”

There was a glass of wine served with all the meals – a choice of a sauvignon blanc or a pinot noir. So bonus points for including wine with the burger.

My tablemates enjoyed the creamy cauliflower and blue cheese soup, with one exclaiming “This tastes like happy!” Also liked was the beef cheeks main, as well as the goat’s cheese croustillant cigar, though one person was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t a smokeable cigar.

Now, the burger is traditionally a handheld food, so it doesn’t always translate well to the plate. But this burger wasn’t really pretending to be a traditional burger. The top bun was served to the side, and the burger was topped with a poached egg. It was so much easier to cut like this.

Veggie burger

The burger had a bit of a brunch feel to it, and indeed the corn fritter, mushroom, poached egg and grilled halloumi would not be about of place on a Saturday morning plate. But it worked together as a whole, and is easily the best veggie burger I’ve ever tasted.

As for the fries – O M G:

Hell yeah

They were nice fat chips, crisp, golden brown, not greasy, and served good and hot with aioli. There weren’t a lot of them, but they were thick and substantial and that’s when I really started regretting all those bread rolls. These are chips to be proud of – well done, Chef Laurent and the Hippo’ staff.

sue August 18, 2011 at 10:32 pm

oo were the bread rolls gluten free? or was that just the burger?

Robyn August 18, 2011 at 11:12 pm

I believe the bread rolls were your regular wheat flour rolls, but perhaps if you asked they might be able to accommodate with a GF alternative.

Joanna August 18, 2011 at 11:36 pm

‘Top bun’ sounds like “front bum”. Heh heh heh.

Also, I want to eat all of this. Except for the poached egg.

Robyn August 19, 2011 at 11:35 am

Funnily enough, the poached egg on my plate wobbled off as the plate was put on the table, so I ended up taking a photo of someone else’s burger.

JA August 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm

I ALWAYS eat too many of those walnut buns too

Robyn August 20, 2011 at 10:40 pm

By the way, in this weekend’s Weekend magazine that comes with Fairfax Saturday editions (i.e. the DomPost), Ruth Pretty has cajoled the recipe for the chocolate meringue from Floriditas. Get it and make it, for it is gooood.

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