SquareMeal Review of Hard Rock Cafe Piccadilly Circus
In tribute to its birthplace on Park Lane, the now global Hard Rock chain (185 outposts and counting) has opened this second London Café in Piccadilly Circus. The location in London’s equivalent of Las Vegas could not be more perfect for a brand that has come to symbolise commerce as much as cuisine and a ground-floor shop bigger than many West End flagship stores sells an array of branded merchandise to Hard Rock your world.
The dining room is downstairs, a huge basement space which stretches away at one end to private dining areas, with the best seats at the other end in a row of alcoves. A video screen pumps out better-than-expected rock and pop classics (Arcade Fire as well as Aerosmith) while the walls are lined with everything from Geri Halliwell’s platform shoes to Ed Sheeran’s waistcoat and teeny-weeny dresses from Shakira and Rita Ora that make you suspect they are not frequent diners here.
Large portions of American comfort food are what the place is about. Nachos come loaded with cheese and jalapenos, decent-sized prawns are deep-fried in a crisp batter and slathered with a tangy sauce not a million miles from the creamy spicy sauce at Nobu, a dense-textured burger is sandwiched in a bun along with an onion ring and bacon while a rack of ribs, nice and meaty, is smothered in a sweet barbecue sauce.
Huge portions mean you might not make it as far as pudding but we’d suggest starving yourself all day so as not to miss out on the hot fudge brownie beneath a mountain of whipped cream; boozy milkshakes make a marginally lighter alternative.
The cocktails are just as fun, with sweet, brightly coloured concoctions of the sort we hadn’t seen for 20 years – Mai Tai, Blue Hawaiian – served in large quantities in tall glasses.
No one is here for haute cuisine but what Hard Rock Café does, it does very well, though admittedly at prices that are pitched at families up in town for a treat rather than a spontaneous drop-in. But enter into the spirit of the place and a good time is pretty much guaranteed.
About Hard Rock Cafe Piccadilly Circus
It’s rocked up all over the world since opening its now-famous doors in London back in the seventies, but the Hard Rock brand has finally come full circle, thanks to its brand new Piccadilly Circus branch. Vibrant, loud, and full of unique music memorabilia, it’s as rock and roll as any of its other branches, and then a bit more.
With features including curved TV screen tiles that blare out music videos, London Underground-themed booths, and a digital ceiling that flows over the staircase, tourists might just find the enormous video display and neon signs of the Circus outside disappointing by comparison. The collectables that adorn the walls have been given an update at this shiny new branch too, with items once belonging to icons such as Freddie Mercury and David Bowie displayed alongside those of current pop stars Ed Sheeran and Ellie Goulding.
Food-wise, it’s the same as it always has been: homage to classic fast food. Bring your appetite for the likes of spicy shrimp, sliders and nachos ahead of its ‘legendary’ (its adjective, not ours) burgers, which come with all sorts of toppings and sides including, if you can stomach the idea, 24-karat edible gold leaf (for ‘true rock stars’, apparently).
After that, garish desserts beckon – from boozy milkshakes covered in sprinkles, to cheesecake and apple cobbler. Kids, fuelled by noise and E numbers, will revel in the opportunity to run riot, but there’s plenty of good stuff on the beer and cocktail list to keep grown-ups energised or pacified - depending on the circumstances.
The new café's 7,500-square-metre 'Rock Shop' claims to be the largest in the world, meaning diners can buy all manner of souvenirs, or simply make use of the space for a much-needed post-meal walk.