A Vegas Style Experience in London’s Leicester Square – Heliot Steak House.
For as long as I can remember, the Hippodrome on the corner of Leicester Square has been a Casino. But, that’s not how it started out, in 1900 when it first opened as a circus and variety show theatre. In those days there was a spectacular bar dressed as a ship’s saloon, a stage and an arena that sank into a massive water tank for aquatic spectacles. With eight central fountains and more round the side, it must have been an amazing and truly innovative building. My first job in London was in ‘White Bear Yard’ a few minutes from the Hippodrome, where the animals were kept when it was a circus. Even then (in the 1980s) we kept our office filing cabinets in the basement, in pens that were still marked with the names of the elephants kept there for appearances at the Hippodrome. I’d love to step back in time and see the building as it was then. Although, how it is now is really pretty good too. The Heliot Steak House where we were heading was judged the Best Steak Restaurant in London by the customers of Bookatable and has some great views out over the casino.
There are three outdoor terraces, covered and with heaters for chillier winter evenings. We made our way to the newly opened rooftop terrace for cocktails before dinner, to find a large space with tables and heaters, a good wine and cocktail list and a selection of food and drink from burgers and salmon fillets through to chicken satay and vegetable fritters.
Perfect if you want to meet up with people from outside your household for food and drinks.
My totally (in)appropriate ‘wild and slinky’ cocktail was a twist on a Kir Royale with Crème de Cassis, Apple Juice, Elderflower and Prosecco – one of the more conservative cocktails on the list! Champagne starts at £50 a bottle and there are wines for £21 a bottle too in addition to a good selection of beers and soft drinks.
Our table for dinner was waiting, set above the gaming tables so that we could watch the action. Properly masked staff and well spaced seating together with a full NHS check-in before we were allowed into the building made this feel a safe way to eat out in London.
We agreed to share a bottle of rosé wine with the meal and were given the chance to try all three. My companion picked – and chose the French, Du Kif Grenache/Merlot/Cinsault. I can find it hard to pick a wine that will work both with a fish/vegetable starter and with a steak main course. But, this was light enough to work admirably with my stunning seabass ceviche which came with a wealth of dry ice!
My companion’s endive and grilled avocado salad was also delicious (we shared tasters of each). I loved the unusual combination of orange and Roquefort cheese with the caramelised pecan nuts adding a sweet crunch to complement the bitter endive.
On to the main event. We both ordered 200g fillet steaks, which come with optional toppings, butters and sauces. As a total indulgence – and because I’ve never been to Vegas but this is something I see myself eating when I DO go there, I made mine into a surf and turf by adding a Scottish half lobster topping and Bearnaise sauce.
My companion picked red wine caramelised onions as her topping and garlic butter as a sauce.
Both steaks were cooked to perfection and nicely rested. What to me has always seemed a slightly odd pairing of foods – lobster and steak – actually worked extremely well. The portion of Scottish lobster was generous and it was nicely grilled so that it was cooked but not at all rubbery.
I thought the wine caramelised onions could have been a little darker and stickier, but that’s a matter of personal taste.
Sides of dirty peas and carrots and of English green beans with garlic butter were nicely cooked and well presented. And of course there were chips!
By the time we got to dessert, I could do nothing more than order a double espresso. My companin picked our waitresses’s recommendation of cookie cheesecake with vanilla ice cream with white chocolate and caramel sauce. Delicious. I could easily have ordered either of the other main desserts – swiss roll with chestnut mousse and warm chocolate sauce or almond millefeuille with seasonal fruits and mascarpone cream, if only I’d had space.
A lovely, relaxed evening in one of London’s best kept secrets.I’m thrilled to learn that there’s yet another reason to try for yourself in the coming months. Ioannis Grammenos is the executive chef at Heliot Steak House and, between now and 17th January he’s set up a special limited-edition menu. A great way to celebrate the hospitality industry’s culinary comradery, resilience and shared experience.
If you are interested – here’s the star studded lineup
First up: Sameer Taneja of Benares from 26th October, showcasing his signature spicing with Murg Makhani – tandoori spiced baby poussin, butter chicken sauce & lassi dressing.
From 9th – 22nd November, it’s GBM finalist, Kerth Gumbs’ côte de boeuf with aged beef ragu, foie gras, truffle wild mushrooms, caramelised shallot and triple-cooked chips.
Guillaume Gillan joins the pass from 23rd November until 6th December with veal sweetbreads with wild mushrooms, grapes and Szechuan pepper.
From 7th – 20th December, Adam Simmonds’ roasted aged sirloin, date purée, confit onions in smoked butter with bone marrow and red wine is on the menu.
Finishing off the series in style is Vivek Singh of The Cinnamon Collection with a South Indian-style stir-fried sirloin steak from 4-17th January.
So, whether you are looking for a place to meet up with friends in central London or a classy meal with your household, the Hippodrome and Heliot Steak House has it all.
Diners need to be 18 to go to the Heliot Steak House and to the Hippodrome
Heliot Steak House
The Hippodrome Leicester Square
4 Cranbourn St,
London WC2H 7JH
Disclosure: We were guests of Heliot Steak House but all content is editorially given