The Fat Hippo has for a long time in my mind been that reason, opening last year it served up gorgeous chunky burgers, sharing platters and posh club sandwiches with chips (and you know how I am a sucker for chips). With the student crowd the place seems to have been an instant hit, it is what Jesmond has always needed, somewhat similar to the ever popular Butterfly Cabinet in Heaton, a place doing hangover breakfasts and proper lunches in a relaxed and stylishly laid back environment.
It has always been busy on previous visits so arriving at 2.30 on a Saturday I expected to have to wait, the floor space is tiny. After waiting for around 10 minutes we were shown to a table, we weren't asked if we wanted any drinks when being seated so when our order was eventually taken we opted for tap water. I do know from previous visits that drinks are very reasonably priced and The Fat Hippo has a full license, I spied a cocktail list on the wall out of my eye but thought lunch time might not be the best time to sample these.
As I had had burger cravings all week (but really I don't know when I don't have burger cravings - see here for further evidence) I opted for the Classic with Cheese at £7.50, the other half went for the Texas BBQ, strangely without any of the BBQ sauce but with melted cheese, bacon and onion rings for £7.95. Each burger comes on one of those in fashion but actually very practical wooden serving boards with chips, home made coleslaw and a small salad perfect for inserting in your bun, there's even a gherkin - the other half got that, I loathe anything pickled.
The Fat Hippo, Classic with Cheese, £7.50
The Fat Hippo, Texas BBQ, £7.95
But there was a standard to live up to, and unfortunately this time there were a few weak points. The first time I ate at The Fat Hippo I remember a gorgeously red meat, properly dense and full of flavour. Although still juicy and a good inch and a half thick, this burger didn't have that beautiful medium rare middle and the mince was more thinly ground making me suspect they have changed the sort of meat they use. It had a touch of pink but was cooked too much for my liking.
The Fat Hippo used to have home made mayonnaise, the distinctive warm and buttery yellow colour gave it away and was such a nice, homely touch appears to have been replaced with a generic white bought in substance. These are probably changes that have to be made as the business grows and finds its feet and understandably not all standards are cost effective. A small suggestion would also be toasting the buns as the bread (which is really lovely) did fall apart slightly as I ate.
I sound like I am all full of criticisms but this picture will demonstrate how well the food went down.
Finished at The Fat Hippo
At The Fat Hippo two burgers without drinks the bill came to £15.40, the service was a little slow but being a Saturday afternoon and busy I won't grumble too much and the regular cliental of students have lots of time for lazy lunches. Our waitress was also very polite and friendly, the same can also be said for the owner and all of the staff actually.
In my mind The Fat Hippo still has the best burgers in Newcastle, I just really hope it stays that way.