If you are of a certain age like yours truly, you might remember how exciting it was to go dancing at the Hippodrome, iconic and historic venue in the middle of the West End. Glittering inside and outside, it was one for the bucket list.
The history of the still impressive building is fascinating. Opened in 1900 by the renowned theatre architect Frank Matcham as a circus variety theatre, the Hippodrome featured a 100,000 gallon tank in which polar bears and sea lions would swim.
Works in 1909 enlarged the stage and advanced the proscenium to suit the theatre for variety rather than circus use and, from 1912, revue-style performances.
In the 1950s the Hippodrome was transformed into the legendary Talk of the Town, and featured a host of major stars from throughout the world; after various different reincarnations, including a nightclub under the management of Peter Stringfellow. In 2008 the venue returned to its roots as a circus venue for burlesque cabaret La Clique. It then closed in June 2009, to reopen a few years ago as a casino.
Within the large space, there are also a number of bars and show venues, as well as a steakhouse aptly named Heliot after one of the performers of the 1900s who used to feed raw meat to her lions on stage.
We admit, when we accepted the invite to review the steakhouse, we had not realised it was part of a casino; had we known, we might have not have considered going, being somewhat put off by having to eat while slot machines are ringing around us (even though the restaurant prides itself of offering one of the best’views’ in London!).
We needn’t have worried, thankfully. Heliot is located on what used to be the circle level of the former theatre and as such, quite protected from the crowded ground floor where the backgammon and cards tables are located.
The food itself was quite faultless and the menu offered plenty of options; a lot of meat of course, but a variety of dishes in all category and to satisfy the most difficult palate.
Heliot Steak House boasts USDA prime steaks, aged for between 4 and 6 weeks to develop tenderness and flavour. Diners can also choose a selection of toppings, including roast bone marrow, truffle and lobster tail. There is something for everyone, in fact, even for those who do not eat meat.
For our starters we chose to try their ceviche, theatrically brought to the table on a raised glass dish with a white smoking centre.
Beyond the appearance, the dish was actually pretty good, with light flavours well balanced by the garnishes, expertly brunoised. The crab dish we tried as our other start was also satisfactory, yet perhaps the avocado cream too much and too creamy, hitting the crustacean delicate meat a little too hard.
We had to order meat for our mains as we felt it would be the right choice. The fillet steak was well cooked to order, a good size portion and very tender. The surf and turf a generous amount of both protein options, an odd dish which we do not usually order but nevertheless enjoyed, a decent size half lobster a la thermidore and a beautifully grilled fillet steak, accompanied by well cooked and seasoned sweet potato fries.
With the lobster, they also provided with all the necessary tools of the trade to get the best out of the claws, a nice touch not necessarily a given elsewhere.
We decided to share a dessert and followed our waitress’ recommendation on the chocolate charlotte, which comes with a small jar of hot sauce to pour over. Not too sweet, with mouth watering chocolate flavours, it was a good end to a really decent meal. We even managed to forget the surrounding for a bit
Overall, we could not fault Heliot’s effort in producing very decent and enjoyable food, supported by an extensive wine list and friendly and professional service.