Flat Iron was part of London’s first wave of ‘restaurants that served you one thing’. The original on Beak street had long queues outside for ages (because who can say ‘no’ to a £10 steak) but I heard that the new branch on Henrietta Street was much bigger (ergo less queue?!?!?) so I popped over for a steak, chips, salad and a glass of wine (your standard steak dinner).
Well, usually my standard steak dinner takes place at home: ribeye or sirloin (from my friendly local butcher), salad (from tesco) and wine (stockpiled when on offer at Ocado), but no chips (because who has time to triple fry). However, my fridge/freezer has been broken for a while (and damn the man for charging an arm and a leg for what amounts to 30 minutes of work, but sadly I’m really not good at DIY), so cooking at home has turned from a doddle to a brain numbing minefield of how long the steak/veg/milk/whatever would last before turning into a veritable biohazard. Yeah… I’ve spent the last week surviving on discount pizza express margharitas (how fortuitous that they were on sale) and eating out (lots). Tonight marked the last night I had the excuse to frivolously dine out by myself, so off to Flat Iron I went. I haven’t been to Flat Iron I since my original visit (see why later), so I was quite looking forward to the experience.
A note on the not queuing business- My new year resolution of ‘put that whiney voice away’ was a little bit optimistic. At barely 5 past 6, my wait time was quoted at 30 minutes (though in reality it was closer to 20). By the time I biffed back into the restaurant (thanks to their handy text), the girls in front of me were being quoted a lofty 1 1/2 hour wait (on a Tuesday?!?!? WTF!!!!). So, point 1: the Covent Garden restaurant is bigger and it has a bar but the queues are equally as long.
The staff were lovely and as soon as I reported back to the Hostess, I was sat down on my own table (!) with a mug of tasty, freshly popped beef dripping popcorn and a bottle of tap water while I mulled over my dining choices. Because the Menu was SO VAST. The majority of my ‘mulling time’ was spent trying to read round a pillar for the specials (some burger and a giant 400g sirloin) without getting a crick in my neck. Anyhoo, I managed to flag down a super cute waiter called Luke and ordered the requisite steak (rare), chips and a Sophie’s salad (blue cheese, candied peel and nuts). Because I forgot the steak came with salad. Oh and a glass of wine. Don’t forget my glass of wine!
My meal arrived soon after from another cute but scarily young looking waiter. Yay! No need to worry that I only had 20% battery left on my phone. I suppose only having 1 main and 4 sides on your menu rather speeds up the cooking process. The chips were perfect. Heavenly, crispy on the outside and soft and very potatoey on the inside (I really should have asked what type of spuds they used). The salad… good, but not worth £3.5 for essentially another house salad with a few dots of blue cheese, 2 pieces of candied peel and some nuts… oh, don’t forget the fancy looking microgreens on top. The steak- beautifully rare. A little chewy, but flavourful. Alas it was missing the most important thing I look for in a steak- a good crust (ah, now I remember why I never came back). It was just chewy mush mush, when I’m quite particular about it being soft inside and a little crispy outside (I like my textures, and that’s kinda why I rarely eat steak out apart from when I’m lucky and get treated to Dinner). This would have been ok if they gave us Maldon (or another brand of flaky) sea salt as the flakiness of the salt also imparts crispness (and a more mild tasting saltiness). Unfortunately, salt from a salt grind meant that adding salt onto the steak was a bit difficult and I ended up with splodges of really salty steak (tiny crystals imparts a saltier flavour, because… science!- fine, if you really need to know it’s got to do with the exposed surface area and the smaller your piece of salt is the more surface area you have for the same amount of salt, hence the illusion that table/ground is much saltier than sea salt flakes, when they are actually equally salty) and then bits of not-salted steak (my fault really). Please don’t take this as ‘the steak was shit’ as I realise I am a bit OCD when it comes to my steak eating- most normal, sane people would probably tell you it was really tasty. What actually grinded my gear was the fact that my mini meat cleaver was really blunt and I spent most of my meal wishing I had an effective steak knife instead of a cute, hipster gimmicky thing that couldn’t cut through my steak.
The bill was a shocker at £26.50 incl. service (ok,it wasn’t more expensive than a restaurant of comparable standards), but I guess the extras is where it catches you. The steak might be only £10- and you could get away with a fairly reasonable meal with only the steak and the free popcorn and water. I guess I was being decadent in ordering the extra salad as well.
Point 2: (and this is VERY IMPORTANT) The bill came with this adorable little cleaver charm. Little did I know that you exchange the charm at the exit for an ice cream cone (vanilla or choc chip) dipped in Mast Brothers Chocolate. Damn. I left that stupid charm at the table and was feeling too full to demand my free dessert.
Don’t worry, I’ve been having a funny Shake Shack malted chocolate shake craving for a few months now, so I had one at the new Tottenham Court Road store on the way home. The healthy eating can start tomorrow.
P.S. Toilets are charmingly decorated and delightfully clean.
P.P.S. The place is dark with hipster lights and very loud.
P.P.P.S. The wine (malbec) was quite expensive and not very good.
P.P.P.P.S. The diet didn’t start because we went to taste burgers at Big Fernand. Damn these boozy bunchers. Then I went to Yauyatcha with my friends. I really just need to make friends who don’t eat.
17-18 Henrietta St, WC2E 8QH