Tastes generally change with age, and I usually find that what impressed my teenage self rarely cuts the mustard these days.
Rewind a few decades and a visit to a Hard Rock Cafe was widely considered the ultimate in cool for my generation, and for most of us, well outside our pocket money budget.
I managed to get to the original Park Lane restaurant once, obviously not on my coin, but that of my parents. If memory serves me correctly, the visit was an attempt to entertain teen relatives from overseas.
Invited along to the new Hard Rock Cafe Piccadilly, I was nervous that the bright lights, energetic staff and noise levels might prove too much, but I was willing to give it a go.
Lunch was tagged on to a long-planned family day out, with my sister-in-law, pre-teen niece and nephew, as well as my toddler, or as I prefer to refer to them, the ultimate critics.
Piccadilly follows the homage to music theme, with memorabilia from big names such as Oasis, Nicky Minaj, the list is endless.
Five minutes into our visit, niece and nephew were suitably impressed, and most importantly quiet – or should I say, awestruck by their surroundings.
Even the toddler remained silent, taking it all in, the sights and sounds of this busy restaurant captivating.
One of the major plusses is the staff, all of whom seem to genuinely enjoy their work.
From the host, who greeted and seated us, to our server, a jobbing actor, and the other members of staff, who stopped by our table, just to say hi, each were delightful.
Yes, friendliness tips over into the mildly zany, but how refreshing in an age where so many view waiting tables as something they’d rather not be doing.
These guys were a hoot, and totally made our experience. F
amily lunches are regularly thwarted by bored children – ours sat for nearly three hours, thoroughly enjoying every minute, the buzz of the London streets above seemingly seeping into this restaurant, below.
Hard Rock Café is the ultimate family restaurant.
Given this was the height of the summer holidays and the place packed, we didn’t have to wait too long to be served our food.
Famous for proper burgers before they reached the height of popularity seen in the past five years, they remain central to this American menu but the grown-ups were lured by the sheer size of Tomahawk Steak.
Billed as the king of steak cuts, this 1kg piece of meat was well seasoned and grilled to perfection, making it a healthy option.
Served with signature steak sauce, herb garlic butter and choice of two sides, two of us shared, with the children helping, but it would have easily fed a third adult.
Priced at £59.95, it’s a complete meal, and represents great value for money.
The children in our party ate pizza and while there were fries served so too was a large plate of broccoli and green beans.
If you like steak, ribs and burgers, this is the place for you.
The burger menu is extensive, all made with at least 227g of steak mince, and who’d have thought you could order one topped with 24-carat gold leaf?
Live like a rock star for an afternoon. Better still, £1 of each burger sold will benefit Action Against Hunger, via the Hard Rock Heals Foundation.
Hard Rock is still the place to eat burgers, pretty much everyone around were feasting on one, whether they be cheese, bacon, double patty burgers and the brand has kept a pace with the societal conversion towards vegetarianism, with MOVING MOUNTAINS® BURGER, 100 per cent plant-based patty, topped with cheddar cheese and a crispy onion ring, served with leaf lettuce and vine-ripened tomato (£17.50).
We headed straight for the main course because we knew we’d be defeated by ordering starters but they did look rather tasty and distinctly Tex-Mex in flavour. JUMBO COMBO – perfect for sharing: signature wings, onion rings, Tupelo chicken tenders, Southwest spring rolls and tomato bruschetta.
No menu of this kind would be complete without a plate of nachos – crispy tortilla chips layered with ranch-style beans and a four-cheese sauce blend, topped with fresh pico de gallo, spicy jalapeños, pickled red onions, melted cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, and green onions, served with sour.
And the burger obsessed can even indulge for a starter with a slider-size portion, including one with buffalo sauce and another with homemade Jack Daniel’s Whiskey bacon jam on a toasted brioche bun.
Whatever you choose, hunger is not an option here. If you can, save room for dessert, hot fudge sundae or a boozy milkshake.
Paloma was a guest of Hard Rock Cafe Piccadilly, Criterion Building, 225-229 Piccadilly, W1J 9HR.