The Casino-Based Steakhouse You Can Put Your Money On…

By Lottie Hulme |
22nd July 2019

There’s something alien about stepping foot in a casino at 7pm. First of all being ID’d and bag searched by burly bouncers that had just stepped of the Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels movie set, or so it seemed. And, secondly, watching a sea of suits tossing down more money on tables than I’d made that day in the office, or seen in my life, come to think of it!

The Hippodrome is the jaunt of the elite, who don’t cast a care towards black or red. It’s also the stomping ground of the Leicester Square massive, who’ve dabbled in drinks a’plenty in the surrounding areas and wandered into the stalwart gambling den upon the ringing out of last orders. This particular evening, the cash-hungry casino was to be my dining spot, as I pulled up a pew at Heliot Steakhouse.

I’d heard nothing but praise when Heliot Steakhouse raised its head in conversation. “Ooft, they do one of the best steaks going,” being the triumphant phrase, and one that the customers of Bookatable had sided with, rating it London best steak restaurant. I, myself, love a steak. Give me a medium-rare rump any day and I’ll likely leave patting my belly. And so an air of intrigue accompanied me on my culinary venture this evening.

Dinner was off to a good start but, I felt, there could be room for improvement where setting was concerned. The 100-cover restaurant claims that views of dice-throwers and poker players will provide the theatrics to your meal and, for some, this is is true. However, if you’re taken up a level and seated on the upper dining level, your views extend no further than a wall or banquette, shrouded in dim-light. Luckily, the uninspiring seating was usurped by the company I had during my dinner, and our charming Madrid-born waiter, Alberto, who outdid my adoration of steak as soon as he began to describe the intricacies behind each cut.

I was there to try the new summer menu; an offering introduced to reflect the changing of seasons which saw me trace my finger down a list of goat cheese lollipops and Cornish crab. For me, it had to be the scallops served with mango, plum and sesame seeds and, for my companion, the sea bass ceviche with tiger’s milk and passionfruit. Conversation was swiftly interrupted as the latter was brought over, ushering all eyes to adorn our table as guests turned round to the sound of “ooo’s,” and “oh Judy, look over there”‘s. The ceviche lay on a raised platform, glass cake stand like, and, from the middle, smoke roared out and flooded the table, waterfall-style.  It was quite the spectacle.

Yet, I couldn’t help but feel that the eccentricity of the dish didn’t quite match up with the moody lighting and basic interiors of Heliot Steakhouse. The ceviche was good, but not great. Lacking in flavour, it seemed the presentation and spectacle surrounding the dish distracted from the fact that flavour wasn’t all too evident. On the other hand, my scallops were meaty and delicious and partnered well with the mango.

Whilst the main menu presents a tapestry of meaty dishes, from sticky short rib and spicy wings to roast baby chicken, we simply had to get a steak whilst at Heliot. The award-winning 28-day aged USDA prime steak cuts were spectacular. Choosing from a menu of small, medium or large cuts was arduous and also super Americanised. Do you go big and go home totally stuffed, or do you go small and leave room for dessert?

Filing down the middle, a 350g rib eye was slapped onto my plate with blue cheese butter and honey glazed carrots to boot. In a light-bulb moment, I realised that this is what Heliot steakhouse is all about. The medium-rare steak oozed flavour, perfectly cooked with a melting texture allowing ease of the knife when slicing through.

There was room for dessert!

Choosing off an educational menu that illuminated suggested boozy pairings with each dish, we shared the white Russian cheesecake with Kahlua caramel and hazelnut ice cream. Just as we thought we’d been smoked out enough for one evening, in rolled a dessert that had an appearance akin to the beginning of a show when smoke hazes over the performer before they come to light. Seriously, there were various holes in a wooden boat-like contraception with smoke piling from each. Despite its randomness, it was quite fun but, in my opinion, it brought the elegance of the restaurant down a peg or two. The dessert was delicious, and the ice-cream went marvellously with the cheesecake

Another thing I learnt on this culinary outing was that Heliot are a dab-hand at classic cocktails. Those who know me well will know a Pornstar Martini is my guilty pleasure so I’m a harsh critic when it comes to this juicy jaw dropper, and Heliot’s hit high-expectations. Alberto went ahead and recommended us a vin rouge to accompany our steak, as expected, and the drinks score was further heightened by the full-bodied Damana Crianza Tempranillo he presented us with, and all of its plum and strawberry notes to boot.

Heliot Steakhouse had pros and cons for me. Focusing on the steak, it’s a great big green tick, as are the prices given the close proximity to Leicester Square’s outrageous cries for money in exchange for food. However, the seating area let it down. Dark and somewhat dingy, It felt more Charlie Chalks than classy casino and I found the food theatrics and smoke screens a little distracting from what was on the plate.

That said, I would go back. Having eaten recently at the Hippodrome’s Boozy Tearoom, I know they’re a dab-hand at producing fabulous experiences and fine fare, and it’s a darling little spot for a pre-theatre or post-gamble meal.

Try your hand at Heliot Steakhouse: 14 Cranbourn Street, WC2H 7JH, www.hippodromecasino.com

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