I’m not American, so celebrating Thanksgiving seems like a weird thing to do. I would, however, trumpet the return for one night only of my favourite Fat Hippo burger. When I first visited FH I chose something called the Candy Man, a patty topped with deliciously gloopy onion jam and candied bacon. It was so wrong it was right, and was disappointed when it was removed from the menu. I’m sure this was a cunning marketing ploy on the part of those in charge so they could wheel out this bad boy on special occasions.
Their clever marketing worked of course, with people clamouring for tables when its return was announced. Lots of delicious looking pictures of said burger filled my Facebook and Twitter timelines and I caved. I booked for their Thanksgiving special at Fat Hippo Underground, the Newcastle City Centre branch of the ‘chain’. I find the Jesmond one a bit too ‘studenty’, plus it’s cramped. We only visit that particular one if it’s a treat trip with Jnr due to its closeness to school. I figured I could do a bit of Christmas shopping beforehand and refuel if we ate in the Newcastle one.
It’s heartening to see them thriving in what was considered to be a jinxed location, restaurant-wise. Opposite the Theatre Royal and below street level, I remember with great fondness Starters and Puds. With a promising start and intriguing premise, they didn’t last too long nestled between the upmarket jewellers and shoe shop. Since our last visit FH have expanded and there’s now more seating. I wasn’t sure about the old school cloakroom set up on the tables where we were sat, and it wasn’t comfy in my hippo-like pregnant state.
I’d forewarned them we were visiting with the vegan, which meant they had the menu for him poised. Both myself and Jnr had said we were going to eat meat, but upon seeing the vegetarian options the teen changed his mind. Mac the Ripper sounded intriguing – deep fried Mac ‘n’ Cheese balls on a bed of lettuce, topped with white BBQ sauce. We asked for the sauce on the side, not really knowing what to expect with that. All of this was accompanied by one of their Vanilla Milkshakes. I have to say, they aren’t rivalling Byron with the shake offering, but Jnr said the Vanilla was better than others he’s tried there.
Having sampled the Spicy Bean Burger at the pop-up kitchen they do at his work, Mr. Canny knew what he was getting. His only quibble was that it seemed a bit ‘meagre’ compared to the meat options, lacking a topping of some description. So in the restaurant he decided to get side salad as well as the fries to see if he was right. When his tray arrived it was evident they serve a different patty size when doing these events, so the additional side wasn’t really necessary. Plus there’s the obligatory pickle, lettuce and tomato to add yourself included, should you wish. It looks forlorn piled on the side of the tray in this manner. To charge £3.50 for a side salad of this size when Onion Rings the size of your head are £4 seems a bit unfair, and we;ll not be ordering it again.
I was impressed with the texture, although I personally found it too spicy for my tastes. I suffer from indigestion and heartburn no matter what I eat of late, but I knew that anything more than a mouthful of that would have me awake all night. It got the vegan thumbs-up though, especially as they switch the brioche bun to accommodate.
It’s a shame burgers aren’t more photogenic, and alas my iPhone camera really doesn’t help the cause. My burger was a thing of beauty, and I’m sure those more adept have Instagrammed the s**t out of the Candy Man while it was on offer. The 100% Northumbrian Beef burger patty from FH isn’t as chunky as I recall (see mention here), but the heap of sweet bacon which topped it compensated. The addition of the candy cane was clearly just for bravado as no-one around me was eating it with the burger. It was saved to chew on after everything else was consumed, like an oniony after dinner mint. I’m going to admit that I ate the burger with a knife and fork as I didn’t want the onion smell on my hands for the rest of the night! I have to rave about their sweet potato fries, which are so good. There was a general consensus round the table that the standard triple fried chips (which could be described as wedges really) which are usually served with the burgers are too heavy to eat with so much meat. You really need a decent appetite to polish those off alongside the burger.
At just short of £37 the meal and drinks were reasonably priced. We certainly weren’t hungry afterwards, and felt the meal was enjoyable enough. With Byron’s recent opening not far away Fat Hippo has some stiff competition though, and they really need to ‘beef up’ their offering to remain top dog in the Toon for burgers.
Thanks for reading,
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