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“Disappointed by pretentious service attitude.”
Review of Hippopotamus

Hippopotamus
Ranked #14 of 930 Restaurants in Wellington
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $22 - $35
Cuisines: French
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Special occasions, Business meetings
Dining options: Dinner, Breakfast, Late Night, Lunch, Delivery, Reservations
Description: When you are looking for a delicious dining experience in a stunning setting try QT Museum Wellington's flagship, French inspired restaurant – Hippopotamus. Our broad menu is peppered with a delicious mix of comfort food and fine-dining dishes that are designed to satisfy your hunger. Our skilled service team will weave their way in and out of your experience ready to recommend their favourite dish and aperitif. In our adjoining Cocktail Bar mixologists armed with all the hip, new cocktails and a host of firm favourites that can either be enjoyed while you dine, or as a pre and post dining spot.
New Zealand
Level 6 Contributor
326 reviews
101 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 824 helpful votes
“Disappointed by pretentious service attitude.”
Reviewed August 2, 2013

We were staying in the Museum Art Hotel, and hosting a delegation of business partners visiting from India.
On their final night in Wellington, we chose to dine at Hippopotamus, as it is so well reviewed. Unfortunately, the evening was soured by the pretentious arrogance of their serving staff - primarily the French speaking person serving our wine. He may have been the Maitre'd - I really don't care. Most of our Indian partners are strictly vegetarian and we had earlier approached the restaurant about this. They told us that as we had a large table they would not allow us to order a'la carte, and we would have to eat off a cut down function menu. This they assured us would have ample vegetarian choices. When we arrived, we found that it contained 2 vegetarian options, and a pasta dish, which wasn't to our visitor's like. When I asked if it was possible for the vegetarians to order off the a'la carte menu, I was told in no uncertain terms that they had been serving their food for years, and it had never been an issue in the past! (Strike 1!).
When we were ordering the drinks I stated that I preferred Sauvignon Blanc. The person taking the wine order insisted that Chenin Blanc would be a better pairing for the food we were ordering. Note that he didn't recommend - he insisted. When I pointed out that I had worked in hospitality for years, including managing a wine shop, and preferred Sauvignon Blanc to Chenin Blanc, he pouted and snapped "and I am one of Wellington's best sommelliers!" - at which point he proceeded to bring and serve the Chenin Blanc, irrespective of the fact that I had said I wanted sauvignon. (Strike 2!). We had sauvignon blanc for our second bottle!

A while after ordering, we were all served individual plates, containing a single spoonful of food. There was considerable confusion at the table as to whether this was the first course, or not. At no time did the wait staff inform us about it, and I don't recall it being mentioned on the menu. It wasn't until the first course arrived that we realised it had been an amuse-bouch hors d'œuvre.

All in all, Hippopotamus is a very nice restaurant, in a very nice hotel. The company was fabulous, the view toward the harbour was nice, the food was good, but I (and some of my colleagues) will not be returning as I have no desire to be treated with arrogance or pretentiousness by restaurant staff, no matter how experienced they may be.
Contrast this with a recent Italian meal I had at the equally good MariLuca Ristoro in Wellington where the humour and congeniality of the staff uplifted an already great meal.

The Hippopotamus would do well to learn that quality tempered with humility is a much more attractive service combination.

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
5 Thank Brett M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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847 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
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English first
Auckland, New Zealand
Level 5 Contributor
52 reviews
49 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Service an issue”
Reviewed July 23, 2013

After an outstanding dinner at Ortega fish shack, we visited Hippopotamus for a nightcap and cheeseboard at 10pm, perhaps this was an issue for the chef. After checking with the kitchen, we were assured this would be ok and retired to an empty bar. The staff were mostly preoccupied with discussing their own after work activities. After a few moments we approached the bar and ordered then returned to our seats. A while later, an informed waitress returned with our cheeseboard. Full of descriptive adjectives, unfortunately the contents did not love up to the hype. Very stale bread, tomato relish described as onion fig jam, a garnish if cherry tomatoes and alfalfa possibly more at home on a salad, and three small ends of a a larger cheese wedge - none if which were remarkable. We struggled and left a short time later. Definitely not a restaurant whose cuisine or service lives up to the hype. I guess the most unfortunate part of our visit was paying the bill for an outrageously, overpriced, ill constructed, and poor quality cheeseboard.

  • Visited July 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
4 Thank ACarly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Australia
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
“Excellent restaurant - and a memorable meal”
Reviewed July 20, 2013

We went to the Hippopotamus at the end of a 2 week foodie trip around New Zealand, so we were both reaching the point of being over restaurant food.

The Hippopotamus was wonderful - from the lovely walnut bread, through the attentive and friendly wait staff and knowledgeable sommelier, to the excellent entree and main courses.

We had considered the degustation menu, but decided on the a la carte option instead. Normally when dining out, I tend to find 2-3 starters that sound interesting, but I often have difficulty finding a main course to be interested in. There were several of each course that piqued our interest, including desserts (crepe suzette, flambéed at the table). Great wine selection too.

  • Visited July 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Corey V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wellington
Level 6 Contributor
99 reviews
81 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“First Class”
Reviewed July 14, 2013

We had the 8 course degustation and it was 10/10. Coudn't fault any of the dsihes. The portions seemed small at first but it really adds up by the time you get to 7 and 8! Service is excellent, attentive, but discrete. Best meal we have had in Wellington for a long time.

  • Visited July 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank canddnz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 5 Contributor
80 reviews
53 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Great dinner”
Reviewed July 12, 2013

I chose three courses from the al a carte menu rather than one of the three tempting degustation menus. The food, service and wine was excellent. The restaurant interior was opulent and comfortable.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank Roboz_8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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