LONDON | Leicester Square is not a part of London that springs to mind when considering quality dining options and a casino in Leicester Square is one of the most unlikely places we thought we would find ourselves enjoying an impressive dinner. We were invited to The Heliot Steak House in the Hippodrome Casino to sample some of their menu items and must admit that the meal challenged our preconceived notions about casino dining.
The approximately 250,000 visitors that pass through Leicester Square everyday might not realise the Hippodrome’s long history. Heliot restaurant was named after a circus performer from a by-gone era, Clara Heliot, the Lady Gaga of her day. Miss Heliot was lion tamer back when the Hippodrome was a circus variety venue. From circus acts to Charlie Chaplin, the Hippodrome has played many hands. In the 1980s, it was a famous nightclub operated by Peter Stringfellow. After UK gaming laws were relaxed, it created an opportunity to develop an upmarket casino that has been in operation since 2008.
The Hippodrome has a touch of Vegas about it, but the history of the building makes it uniquely London. We had a chat to Simon Thomas, the Chairman and CEO of the Hippodrome and it was evident that his passion and striving for continual improvement has lent itself well to the Hippodrome’s re-vamp and the launch of the Heliot Steak House. Speaking to Simon, you really get the feel that it is a family run business despite being a massive international casino.
Heliot is one of the few venues in London to serve USDA Prime Beef. USDA Prime Beef is the highest designation granted by United States Department of Agriculture’s meticulous rating system. In an ode to Vegas dining, the supreme quality beef is subsidised by the casino making it far more reasonably priced than other quality steak houses in London. Part of the restaurant overlooks the casino floor but if you want a more secluded feel you can request a table away from the action.
USDA Meatballs (£7.00); Sea Bass Ceviche (£8.00)
We started our meal with the USDA Meatballs and Sea Bass Ceviche. One thing that surprised us was that despite being a steak house, there was actually quite a decent range of seafood on the menu. The sea bass was light and fresh, the perfect way to kick off a meal. The meatballs provided a previous of what was to come with the main course, with the quality of the beef immediately apparent on the first bite. The meatballs were served with a rosemary sauce & feta which provided an interesting balance to the “meatiness” of the meatballs.
Rib Eye (350g, £19.00); Fillet (200g, £19.00)
Overall the 28 day aged steak was of the highest quality and cooked to perfection. We were really impressed at the value for money as this kind of quality steak would cost considerably more at another establishment. For example, Smith & Wollensky is a recent arrival on the London steak house scene that also serves USDA Prime Steak. In comparing the menu, there is no direct weight comparison, but if you compare the Heliot 18oz Sirloin at £24 to the 14oz Sirloin at Smith & Wollensky for £36, it’s evident the great value that Heliot offers. In essence at Heliot you get 29% more beef for 2/3 of the price.
Seasonal Greens (£3.00); Hand Cut Chips With Truffle & Parmesan (£4.50); Millionaire’s Mac & Cheese (£7.00)
The sides on the menu really contributed to giving Heliot that authentic steak house feel and they stood up well against other upmarket steakhouses in London. The hand cut fries were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, with the truffle and parmesan giving them an indulgent twist. The mac & cheese was also indulgently satisfying, with the addition of a duck egg and black truffle making things even more indulgent. The seasonal greens gave us the delusion of healthy balance.
Almond Layered Pastry (£6.50)
Somehow we were able to manage room for dessert. We ordered the Almond Layered Pastry. It was light and delicious and worth that slightly uncomfortable feeling you get when your eyes are bigger than your stomach. The contrasting textures really worked well and it wasn’t overly sweet which was a pleasant surprise.
Chocolate Cake (£6.50)
The chocolate cake with meringues was oozing with a chocolate sauce. This was a nice cake but after such a heavy meal the almond pastry was definitely the better choice.
Overall the meal was really impressive, especially given the price point. Throughout the meal, the service was spot on – attentive, but not overbearing. The wine list was more like a tome but we were really pleased with selection of the Dandelion Shiraz. The restaurant was not overly busy on the Tuesday we went so those that have an immersion to commitment might be able to luck out snagging a table early in the week.
Given the location, Heliot is a great option for a pre-theatre meal as they offer some pre-fixe options at a stellar price point too. In addition to the casino and Heliot, the Hippodrome also features private rooms for events, a speakeasy bar called Lola’s on the ground floor with burlesque dancers, and you can often find international sporting events on TV when other establishments are shut. Great food at a casino on Leicester Square. Who would have thought it?
Heliot Steak House
The Hippodrome Casino
14 Cranbourn Street
London WC2H 7JH
Telephone: 0207 769 8844
Email: [email protected]
Mon – Fri: 5:00pm to 12:00pm
Sat: 12:00pm to 4:00pm; 5:00pm to 1:00am
Sun: 12:00pm to 4:00pm; 5:00pm to 11:00pm