LONDON EATERIES – Heliot Steak House Does One Hell Of A Steak!
Hidden inside the heart of the Hippodrome Casino is a carnivore’s heaven. Voted by Bookatable in 2015 the best steak in London, I was eager to try this place myself. Located on the corner of Leicester Square, the restaurant has banquette seating, mirrors, decorative lights, and casino gaming views.
The last time I was in a casino was over a decade ago when I visited Las Vegas. However, I found the casinos there too bustling and bothersome, but I was unusually calm when I entered this venue. Perhaps that’s because I was not here to gamble but to indulge in some quality cuisine. Ascending the stairs to the restaurant aloft, I was greeted by a charming and beaming maître de. Seated by glass railings, I could survey the casino below. Although the gambling area was getting quite hectic, I felt almost quiescent, I was so relaxed in the restaurant area. Sat facing my other half, we discussed how great the venue was. Our waitress arrived with such a gargantuan grin that she could beguile the most obdurate personality. Her salubrious enthusiasm made me eager to try her suggestions. While we awaited our cocktails, the time was passed more agreeably with three glamorous Burlesque dancers performing just in front of us above the casino. Researching this place I discovered that this venue has a historical past. The London Hippodrome was opened in 1900, built for £250,000 by renowned theatre architect Frank Matcham to showcase circuses and variety shows. In 1958, the original interior was demolished and it was converted into a nightclub, “The Talks of the Town”, featuring appearances of legends such as Diana Ross and Judy Garland. After a decline in popularity the venue was closed down in 1982. Renovated yet again the building was reopened as the nightclub/restaurant called the “The London Hippodrome” by nightclub tycoon Peter Stringfellow in 1983. Several years later, Stringfellow sold the venue to a chain company, but it wasn’t until April 2004 that the Hippodrome regained its standing when it was transformed into the reward winning “Cirgue at the Hippodrome” The interior was reverted back to red and gold and Burlesque was the theme. After loosing its alcohol licence in 2005 the venue was forced to shut down. However, in January2006 entrepreneur Charmaine Haig took over the lease of the Hippodrome building on a short term before a casino licence application could be secured for the future use. Parties, album launches, dance shows, gala dinners and award ceremonies started to frequent the venue. In 2008 the Hippodrome had acquired a theatre licence and the venue was returned back to a theatre. In 2009 the adult cabaret show La Clique at the Hippodrome won an Olivier Award in the “Best Entertainment” category.
In 2009 the lease on the Hippodrome was acquired by Leicester-born father and son entrepreneurs Jimmy and Simon Thomas, who extensively restored the Hippodrome back to Matcham’s orginial designs for use as a casino and entertainment venue. The reported £40 million investment was financed by the selling of number of bingo halls. It was reopened by the then Mayor of London Boris Johnson. In January 2013 the casino was awarded Best Land-based Casino. The Matcham Room at the Hippodrome Casino is currently the home of nationally renowned Boom & Bang Circus and Soho Burlesque and London’s Burlesque elite.
The restaurant itself is actually named after the flirtatious and alluring Claire Heliot, one of the early performers at the Hippodrome in the 1900’s. She was globally infamous for fearlessly feeding raw meat to 14 lions on stage. As described by the New York Times “She pats them on the back like ponies, hugs them like kittens and romps about with them…One of the most thrilling animal acts ever seen”.
As we were absorbing this animated atmosphere, our cocktails arrived. I What was great about these cocktails, they weren’t the usual diluted cat’s urine that we have become accustomed to being served. For starters I had Goat Cheese Lollipops with lemon curd and wild rocket. Which was as described, balls of delicious baked goats cheese with lollipop sticks protruding from them. If you like the mixture of sweet and savoury then you will love this dish, otherwise if your palette is less sweet,then the lemon curd isn’t for you. The other half had a refreshing Sea Bass Ceviche with chilli, ginger and pickled pearl onion. So already from these starters one can see immediately this is no mediocre steak house. Now for the splendid selection of mains. These salivating dishes range from fabulous fillet steaks with lobster tail, to whole lobster with fried duck eggs. I confess I’ve never eaten duck egg before and its truly delicious, so forget your humdrum hen! But the steak itself, proclaimed to be the best in London, was truly no anticlimax, but tittering on orgasmic! I had a fillet steak cooked medium rare, with a truffle sauce. Within this price range this was the best steak I’ve ever had. The only steak that can rival it was a wagu steak I had recently at double the price. The texture was smooth and cooked to perfection! The generous sides were a mixture of triple cooked chips and sweet potato fries, vegetables, garlic roast mushrooms, mac and cheese. With this banquet I was recommended a light and fruity red wine preferable for my palate. I am not fond of the more intense wines, but the waitering staff here are so knowledgable a wine suitable for your individual taste will be undoubtedly chosen.
Dessert was a Summer Fruits and Mascarpone dish that was light and yet satisfying, again the a perfectly accompanying dessert wine was suggested. The other half devoured Charlotte a delicate chocolate mousse and strawberries that was totally suitable after such an indulgent mains. Heavy puddings, which are not on this menu, would have been totally inappropriate and gut exploding!
My final reflections on this evening are I had a great evening of fabulous food, attentive service, and an atmosphere that is both vibrant without being intrusive. I thoroughly recommend this restaurant, they do a great brunch menu too, so I will be back soon to try these delights.
Heliot Steak House, Hippodrome, 14 Cranbourn St, London WC2H 7JH Tel: 020 7769 8844
Heart London Magazine 5 * Rating
Darren, Heart London Magazine