Heliot – A Safe Bet! | Cranbourn Street, Leicester Square, London WC2H 7JH
Finally, it looks as if the seasons are starting to change and that can mean just one thing – new Spring menus, oh and little bouncy lambs, cute fluffy chicks and blooming flowers. One menu that caught our eye was at Heliot, the steakhouse within London’s famous Hippodrome.
We had eaten at the Heliot before, back in 2012, just after a £40 million overhaul from a tired (and tacky) old nightclub to a beautiful casino, harking back to its Victorian grandeur. Not much had changed decor-wise since 2012, but what has changed is the head chef.
Ioannis Grammenos has taken over the kitchen and injected some Mediterranean sunshine into the menu. To compliment the great value USDA prime steaks (aged for between four and six weeks) there are plenty of new lighter dishes that take inspiration from Ioannis’ Greek heritage.
These lighter, fresher Spring dishes are in stark contrast to the menus largest steak, a monster 650g T-Bone costing just £29 – easily one of the best value slabs of steak you’ll find in London. You can understand why Heliot was judged the Best Steak Restaurant in London by the customers of Bookatable.
As a slight aSIDE (get it?) you can’t miss the ultimate in decadent side dishes, Heliot’s legendary Millionaire’s mac ‘n’ cheese, topped with a poached duck egg and black truffle. This was when I rediscovered just how good it can be and setting me on the path to mac ‘n’ cheese discovery (while finally exorcising those childhood memories of the disgusting tinned variety.)
From our raised balcony, sat on our Mastermind-esque black swivel chairs we had the perfect view of fellow diners and over the casino floor – perfect for people watching. While waiting for our cocktails to arrive we couldn’t help but giggle when a couple of middle-aged suited businessmen started flirting with the waitresses.
But this waitress knew how to play the game… She had her eyes on the prize – a bigger tip at the end of the meal. You never know, these businessmen may have hit the jackpot down on the casino floor.
Clientele were mostly groups of men with only a few couples dotted about. This surprised us the menu (apart from the steak) is quite feminine and the actual restaurant itself, with its twinkling lighting, is bordering on being a romantic spot.
Back to the cocktails (£10 each). We loved the casino themed names but three of the four that we ordered were very sweet and a little unsophisticated. For example my Double Down had a sharp hit of citrus but lacked any alcoholic punch. Saff’s Split Bet was basically a sweet strawberry punch yet was the most popular on the list.
Later Saff ordered the Lady 007 – Heliot’s take on a Martini, by far the best of the bunch. Now this is the only negativity you’ll find in this review so we thought we’d get it out of the way – plus we are VERY fussy when it comes to our cocktails. Our advice? Go for one of their excellent bottles of wine instead.
Choosing a starter was probably the trickiest part, I would have been happy with any of them. Eventually I went for the Grilled octopus (£7) served thinly sliced on a bed of tiny cubed green tomato, surrounded by a moat of gazpacho. Fresh, light and full of Mediterranean flavour.
Saff went even lighter and ordered the Quinoa salad (£7), with a mix of bitter endive, acidic lime and crisp green beans – she will get into that bikini by our summer holiday (her words, not mine before you recoil in disgust!)
She continued her health kick with the Sea bream (£16). It looked stunning and must have taken absolutely ages to prepare. Wafer thin slices of courgette interwoven on top of the perfectly cooked delicate fish to resemble scales, served with fennel a light lemon sauce. It seemed a shame to eat it.
I was so chuffed with my decision to order the incredible Lamb cutlets (£15). The 18oz sirloin was screaming my name but so was this. Now I know that grilled lamb cutlets served with caramelised shallots and baby seasonal vegetables with a portion of Garlic road field mushrooms (£3) isn’t exactly a low cal meal but it sure is lighter than a plate full of red meat, triple cooked chips and a side of their Millionaire’s mac & cheese (£7). I dread to think how many calories are in that big bowl of cheesy carb laden heaven!
Now dessert was when we both fell off the ‘lighter option’ wagon and dived straight on to the pudding trolley. If there’s a panna cotta on the menu, Saff has to order it – it’s the law. So when she saw the Lavender panna cotta with raspberries and passion fruit (£6.50), it was game over for the other desserts.
It could have gone so wrong. Lavender is a notoriously difficult flavour to master, too much and it’s like spraying your nan’s Yardley perfume in your mouth, too little and it simply disappears. It looks as if Ioannis and his kitchen team know exactly what they’re doing, it was spot on.
I was intrigued by the Passion fruit and coconut mousse (£6.50), expecting a carnival of flavours to jet me off to dessert paradise and i wasn’t disappointed. The mousse was served in a dark chocolate rectangle (I was going to say trough, but that didn’t sound very appealing) making it taste a little like a Bounty bar.
The chef had gone to town decorating the plate with the thick raspberry coulis, the waiter described it as a Jackson Pollock, we thought it looked more like a crime scene.
The new menu at Heliot is well worth a try. They seem to have all the bases covered, light seasonal dishes plus those monster steaks. It’ll be hard to convince you it’s a hidden gem, considering it’s in one of the West End’s most flamboyant and extrovert locations but you can almost always get a table – even if you do have to wait a while at the bar or in the lounge. If you want a decent steak meal, please don’t throw away your hard-earned cash in an Angus Steakhouse, take a punt on the Heliot – you could be onto a winner!
Cranbourn Street, Leicester Square, WC2H 7JH
Telephone: 0207 769 8844
Lunch: Saturday & Sunday Noon – 4pm.
American Brunch Saturday & Sunday: 11.30am – 4pm
Dinner: Open from 5pm daily.
Last Orders: Monday – Friday Midnight
Saturday 1am. Sunday 11pm
Over 18s only
Nearest station: Leicester Square (1 min walk)
Charing Cross (8 mins walk)
We ate as guests of Heliot, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.