Monday, February 02, 2009

Fat Hippo (71 Clinton Street @ Rivington)

I went to my friend's new restaurant, Fat Hippo, last Thursday for a tasting night. They're not officially open yet, but wanted to get feedback from friends & family. The decor although unfinished (according to the architect), looks great. With exposed brick, vaulted ceilings & some awesome I-beams. Again, they weren't quite ready to open, so the only choice of booze was wine or beer, but we were assured that they'd have a full bar. 4 of us sat down & decided to order everything off the menu & just share, so we could all taste everything & give our opinions.

1) 'Trailer Park' Chicken Sampler

I never met a piece of chicken I didn't like, so I was excited by this dish. The fried chicken was good, but the star was the beer can chicken breast. It was insanely tender & did not last very long. There were 2 sides: collard greens which I really liked & corn bread which was a little on the dry side. The chef has been tinkering with the recipe, so I'm sure it'll be perfect when they open.

2) Chili & Chocolate Glazed Spare Ribs (foreground)
Pan Fried Mozzarella Balls (background)

I was somewhat skeptical about the ribs, but I was glad to be proved wrong. spicy & sweet, they literally fell off of the bone. Pickled watermelon (an interesting flavor) & radish slaw accompanied. We all loved this dish. The mozzarella balls with arugula & herb roasted tomatoes were also tasty.

3) Grapefruit & Feta Salad

I was really surprised how well the tartness of the grapefruit went with the salad, this dish was a hit with all of us. It featured olives, spiced pecans & a honey vinaigrette.

4) Hot & Sour Sauteed Calamari

Call me a wuss (everyone does), but I found this dish to be way too hot. Everyone else seemed to be able to manage the heat, but I was guzzling down water & beer like it was going out of style. The calamari was cooked well (no Bridgestone tire here), but my tongue was on fire.

5) Maryland Crab Cakes

Yowza! This was amazing! Served with corn succotash, roasted garlic caper sauce & a side of Mac 'n Cheese (background), I was a very happy man. The crab cake was really good, & the Mac was some of the best that I've ever had in my life. Bravo!

6) Grilled Marinated Pork Chop

I had to do a double take as this monstrous piece of pork arrived at the table, it looked like something out of the Flintstones! How any one person could finish that is beyond me. The 4 of us struggled & couldn't even do it. Served with pulled pork stuffing, bacon (yes, more pork), brussel sprouts & a maple-jalapeno mustard sauce, it was incredibly tender.

7) Steak & Eggs

I'll admit that there was nothing really special about this dish. A grilled hangar steak with green tomato gratin & egg toast. I liked the presentation of the egg, but I thought the meat was slightly overcooked & could have used more sauce.

8) Free Range Turkey Meatloaf

By this time my stomach was waving the white flag, so I didn't try too much of this dish. It was served with mash, green beans & a house made tamarind ketchup. I did enjoy what I tried though.

Not pictured were the Shrimp Ceviche & the French Fries. I have nothing much to say about the ceviche as it really was like any other. The fries were not that crispy, but they were having trouble with the deep fryer.

After this insane meal, all 4 of us has a serious case of food coma & were all sitting there happy, yet sleepy. I enjoyed pretty much every dish here, which is a real rarity. The standouts were the crab cake & the ribs. The prices (if they don't change before opening) were insanely cheap given the portion size & the quality of the food which was all organic.

Please bear in mind that this was a pre-opening meal & they were working out the kinks in the kitchen. Also several dishes were unavailable. Any gripes that I had will be sorted out before opening.

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