I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t normally choose to have dinner in a casino in Leicester Square but my Mum and I had tickets to see the Book of Mormon (which is HILARIOUS) so a quick bite to eat at the Heliot restaurant inside the Hippodrome didn’t seem such a bad idea. We also found a deal on Bookatable which offered £25 for three courses including a glass of wine and a £5 gaming chip – so we’d have been stupid not to right?
The Hippodrome used to be a circus variety theatre until it underwent a £40m renovation turning it into a huge 24 hour 7 day a week casino. Even though such a large sum of money had been spent, it didn’t look particularly glamorous and instead it felt, dare I say it, tacky. This was no Vegas, I felt I was very much in a casino in Leicester Square.
The restaurant consisted of two long and narrow balconies which was slightly odd. We weren’t deterred however and sipped away on our glass of cheap plonk!
I started with the tuna tataki, Asian apple and herb salad with soy, lime and ginger. This was served alongside a rather large battered shiso leaf which was cold and therefore not something I particularly enjoyed. The tuna had been seared very briefly and was fairly pleasant but the overall flavours were a bit bland.
My Mum didn’t really enjoy her aged Bresaola with pickled girolles and parsnip crisps. I later found out that bresaola is air-dried salted beef and not venison like our waiter informed me. The meat tasted like the sort you might get from a packet in Tesco – it had a hard and slightly chewy edge to it.
Main courses were both simple and unexciting. My breast of cornfed chicken, sun dried tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil jus (basil jus?!) was dry and stringy. I couldn’t detect the merest hint of mozzarella ether.
My Mum’s roasted salmon fillet with monk’s beard, tomato relish and lemon oil was….fine. It was a generous fillet of salmon cooked well and with a nice crispy skin. It was however a touch boring. The side of broccoli with chilli and garlic (£3.50 extra) did exactly what it said on the tin.
For dessert I went for the ‘deconstructed’ lemon cheesecake. Why deconstruct a cheesecake? What’s the point? “It made you order it though didn’t it” my Mum piped up. And she has a point, although I still hate that word. This was just two dollops of a lemony creamy concoction mixed with soggy biscuit crumbs drizzled with raspberry coulis. I would have preferred a normal cheesecake which at least provides different textures.
The passion fruit brûlée was so sharp and tangy my Mum’s eyes nearly popped out of her sockets after the first spoonful. It wasn’t wholly unpleasant but it wasn’t particularly enjoyable either; it felt as though your taste buds were being whalloped by a bag of unripened passion fruit.
Service was very sweet and attentive; my tap water was topped up after every sip but we felt the food left a lot to be desired. Leicester Square isn’t exactly known for its fabulous food offerings and Heliot at the Hippodrome is proof of it.