THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
A night on the town with youth and beauty on my arm! What more could one ask for? Pumpkin time at midnight, that’s what. Instead, 10 o’clock curfew meant thousands of people were ejaculated onto the streets and into public transportation at the same time like lambs to the slaughter. Huge respect for the Hippodrome and the professional way they handled this misguided restriction that puts lives at risk and renders the hospitality industry inhospitable.
Our first stop was the new roof terrace. What a fab watering hole! Open to the sky with living walls of greenery, a great view and lovely libations. A Hippo Kiss (£9.75) was not a smooch from a nearly extinct pachyderm, but rather a peachy pucker-upper with lavender gin and elderflower. A Lychee Tang (£9.25) was a zingy gesture to the casino’s Chinatown neighbours.
We dined in the balcony where people watched Judy Garland perform in 1969! Now it overlooks the casino, glam and full of buzz. The new curfew meant that tables also filled all at once, but our waiter kept both charm and composure intact and delivered a flawless service.
Our starters were served by Exec Chef Ioannis Grammenos himself. He invented goat cheese lollipops with lemon curd (£10) in a fit of hunger when he only had goat cheese, lemon, eggs and butter in the fridge. Necessity now has a father! Divine as a starter, a single lolly at the end of the meal would also make a perfect exclamation point.
Sea Bass ceviche (£10) was the chef’s shining moment. Sweet fish with mango, tiger’s milk and chilli, drizzled like splatter art, made a spectacular presentation. The mix of flavours was perfect.
Heliot is known for its USDA prime steak. Forget about chlorinated chicken; this is the best the US has to offer and it is exceptional. A 500 g dry-aged rib on the bone was excellent but cut too thin to get both char and a medium rare middle. A 250 g fillet (£29) was superb. Thick, beautifully charred and hot pink, it melted in my mouth.
Absolutely nothing comes with the steak. Sauces, toppings and sides are all extra. A bit EasyJet, thankfully without the orange. Chimichurri and red wine sauce (£3) were both excellent, but a side salad and chunky chips (£4) had little soul.
A 2016 Château Smith Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington State (£50) was full and dry with dark cherry, tobacco and rich tannins. Good, but not quite on a par with its California cousins.
Cookie Cheesecake with vanilla ice cream, white chocolate and caramel sauce (£8) bore little resemblance to the American classic but sent my date into rapture. Almond mille feuille with berries and mascarpone was my ecstasy. The crisp leaves of pastry were gorgeous.
At 9:55 we joined the exodus without finishing our wine. Still, I felt enormously grateful. Good food. Youth and beauty on my arm. My glass was half full!
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