The Hippodrome sparks memories of a dodgy night out clubbing back in the 90s, when a group of us only ended up there from sheer desperation, and where one visit was enough. It has gone through several changes since its original opening back in 1900 that saw it start out as a circus, then theatre, music hall and, in more recent times, a nightclub.
I’m intrigued by its latest re-incarnation as a casino, after a massive £50 million refurbishment. It now sports the largest entertainment venue in the West End with six bars, a cabaret room and four floors of gaming.
Eating out is always a gamble if you’re dining somewhere for the first time – some bets are safer than others. I place my bet with the casino’s restaurant, Heliot Steakhouse, named after Claire Heliot who was a performer in the early days, famed for feeding raw meat to lions.
The restaurant spans over the first floor of the balcony area. It’s an unusual narrow space, which overlooks the boisterous punters at the roulette wheels below. The casino is celebrating its first birthday anniversary, so every now and then we have random bursts of entertainment such as the daring acrobats below.
Heliot Steakhouse is all about comfort food, and of course steak. Prawn Cocktail, when done well, is a champion starter. Here, apart from not deveining the prawns (tut tut – not on, especially when charging £8.50) it’s exactly that. Giant, firm sweet prawns in a piquant marie rose sauce – simply magnificent. My friend Pam has the Tuna Tartare and sings its praises too.
The stakes (sorry) are upped further with a Chateaubriand. The picture really doesn’t do the meat justice; it’s gorgeous, perfectly cooked with a sticky, rich, gelatinous bone marrow sauce. Decent sides of chunky, crisp, chips are a good accompaniment, but the star is most definitely the Millionaire’s Mac and Cheese with poached duck egg and truffle. Calorifically banging! At £12 it’s quadruple the price of the other sides, but worth it and a must try.
If you haven’t passed out by now a Bakewell Tart with milk ice-cream is worth making that little bit of room for. Or, the lighter more refreshing Lemon Sorbet that Pam had is just as good.
My bets are safe and I can confidently say the meal is a winner. Our evening finishes with a burlesque show in the cabaret room, that’s more comedy than thrilling, but fun and certainly entertaining.
The food at Heliot Steakhouse is great, and deserves an environment where more attention is placed on it. If you’re looking for an intimate dining experience then this is not it. For a buzzing night out with mates, possibly – it’s certainly different.
The Hippodrome have a 24-hour food and drink licence – starters range from £7-£9 and mains from £13-£29.50.
Food I Fancy dined as guests.
10-14 Cranbourn Street
London WC2H 7JH
Tel: 020 7769 8844