Is there anything more appealing than the sound of grinding coffee, the smell of bacon and eggs and the spectacular views of the bay in the morning?
Hippo Espresso, or more affectionately known as ‘Hippo’ opened its doors in 2008 and has since become an icon of the local café scene. With a reputation for being the place to meet, Hippo has twice undergone extensions to cope with the growing numbers of customers.
Popular amongst locals and visitors to this quaint lakeside town, with its casual sophistication, Hippo Espresso is a beacon of good food and great coffee. This laid-back eatery goes well beyond your run of the mill suburban café - instead Hippo has an inner city family feel about it, with plenty to entertain the
little ones complete with indoor play area with toys and books.
Also available are parent changing rooms, high chairs, privacy and kids meals. New owners Aaryn Algie and Joe Stapleton, who also own Brown Dog just a few doors down, are out to please and their philosophy is simple - to serve great food , deliver excellent customer service and provide a memorable dining experience at all times.
Judging by the growing number of regulars that frequent Hippo each day, they are clearly heading in the right direction. Aaryn, who is also a qualified golf pro with a strong background in hospitality and Joe – an IT specialist, spent many months searching for the ideal location to open their restaurant and café business. For them, Warners Bay and the purchase of Hippo Espresso and Brown Dog ticked all the boxes.
Open from 5.30am to 5.00pm every day, the menu at Hippo has something for everyone serving an all-day breakfast and a lunch menu that has everything from lights meals to fresh sandwiches, salads, wraps, burgers and schnitzels. They also offer BYO.
So what makes Hippo Espresso so successful in an area that has no shortage of great restaurants and cafes? Is it the Toby’s Estate coffee, the spacious dining area, the family friendly atmosphere or the consistently fresh and tasty menu? Perhaps it’s the laid-back vibe and happy staff that look after your
every need. Or is it that the abundant car parking out back?
According to Aaryn it’s all of these things and more. Just a little further down the esplanade is Brown Dog -
the trendy and yet relaxed local grill house with more that is attracting families and locals with its friendly vibe and varied menu.
While sister restaurant (Hippo) can be described as being modern with a casual sophistication, the fit-out by the crew at Brown Dog is trendy, upbeat and a hint of industrial - with its polished concrete floor, slate columns, retro incandescent lightbulbs, long rustic timber tables and plenty of natural light coming through large bi-fold windows that open to the breezeway and also to a view of Lake Macquarie.
Popular for coffee and lunches, Brown Dog is also licensed and open from 11am to late during the week. With breakfasts served on Saturday and Sunday, the opening times on weekends are from 8am to late.
The menu is varied and renowned for its grilled hamburgers, steaks, ribs, fish, schnitzel and buffalo wings which are great value and also hard to beat. The house specialty of steak is slow cooked at a low heat for ultimate tenderness.
Vegetarians are not forgotten, with a good choice of starters and burgers. Gluten free options are also available.
With Brown Dog, the owners have created a family friendly, comfortable environment that is the perfect place to kick back and just take in the beauty of Lake Macquarie, while enjoying a barista made coffee, a glass of wine or a beer and having a bite to eat.