Last week we briefly previewed a refurbished and relaunched Hippo Co (formerly called Hippo Bar). We’d seen the interior during the build stage, but it was always going to be interesting to see what it all looked like once the finishing touches had been applied.
Anyway, last Friday night was the time to get frocked up and make our way back up the stairs from Garema Place to see what had become of the previously soft and sultry surrounds of the Hippo Bar.
The firs thing you notice, particularly when the bar is not particularly full, is how sparse the bar now feels. Thanks to the removal of the heavy, vinyl ottomans and square low tables that previously dotted the bar, Hippo Co feels a lot bigger. Prohibition-era tables with fine wooden chairs dot the room, and the bench along the back wall is now covered in green leather that looks as though it was pulled from the Lower House of our old parliament.
And it is at this point that the old world Gentleman’s club feel kicks in. The ornamental trophies (not the kind you won playing netball, rather those that might return from a hunting trip) line the upper walls with vacant expressions.
The brickwork and wooden wall feature enforce the austere feel of the bar. When the lights go down the new lighting does well to soften the room, and it is then one notices the glittering, gold lettering of the extensive whiskey list. Made from an old notice-board style, with individual metallic letters pressed in the grid, the ad-hoc alignment of the names and prices add a more human feel.
The cocktail list has been updated and streamlined, now offering a more limited selection of tipples served in small, elegant stemware. Even Lonsdale Street Roasters is involved, supplying fresh coffee on a daily basis for the espresso drinks.
All in all, it’s a lovely experience. The biggest question will be whether Hippo Co will (or even wants to) be as attractive to groups of ladies who have for so long perched themselves elegantly around the bar. Hippo Mark II is indeed a different beast, and we’re fascinated to see how Canberra responds to Canberra’s latest addition.
Upstairs, Garema Place
02 6257 9090