Flat Iron, 17 Beak Street, London W1F 9RW
There are a couple of buzz words that have resurfaced of late – cheap eats! Time out had their cover story dedicated to the subject a while back. We even went to Zédel off the back of their list, but sadly for us, it was a case of you get what you pay for.
But luckily Flat Iron has restored our faith that you can get a decent meal with a ‘cheap eat’ price tag. Add to this the fact that it’s a steak restaurant, and you can understand why there is always a queue.
Named after the cut of beef (the shoulder or chunk) not after the iconic New York building close to where I proposed to the other half of We Love Food. The restaurant is set over three floors, the basement level being the bar area, where you’re asked to head to whilst waiting for your table.
This bar’s decor is a little building site… Exposed brickwork (very exposed at the back) basic tables, a fantastic old wooden work-bench and a huge block of ice (which gets chipped into your drink) on the counter.
It’s worth a visit purely for its short but great value cocktail list, a generous sized glass for just £7. I ordered a Rhubarb Aperol Spritz £6.50, the Chase rhubarb vodka and rhubarb bitters really hit the spot. Saff went for the Pound Sterling £7, I thought she just liked the name but the Sloe berry liqueur was the real reason she picked it.
You can also order the delicious St John’s Bakery rhubarb and custard donuts from behind the bar too.
Top tip though, DON’T sit near the toilet, there is only one so queues form around your table. Plus you can get a whiffy waft when the door opens… But this is seriously the only fault we found with the whole establishment.
The ground and first floors are a little more polished than the basement. More exposed brick, oversized industrial lamps, heavy wooden tables and even the obligatory enamel cups and dishes – you get the idea! We loved the big cleavers on the wall and the aprons on hooks, adding to that meat market/Sweeney Todd vibe…
What sets Flat Iron aside from others, apart from the great value, is the friendliness of the staff. Our waitress was quick, efficient and had the most infectious smile. We saw the staff playing/flirting with each other, they obviously enjoy working there… The staff on the door managed to keep those waiting for a table happy and well-informed. Even those who thought the wait was too long walked off with a happy face.
We sat at our communal table (big enough for four big ‘uns or six little ‘uns) was served up a cup of complimentary Beef dripping popcorn Spuntino-style and a jug of water. We wanted to order a cocktail but these are only available downstairs, so we went for a couple of bottles of craft beers instead. I had a Shoreditch Blonde £4.60, while Saff had the Bethnal Pale Ale £4 (both from the Redchurch Brewery). Wine is also available, starting from £16.50 for a 750ml carafe.
The table setting is simple enough, what really catches your eye (not literally I hope) is the mini meat cleaver that replaces your oh so boring steak knife. I can imagine a fair few of these have gone walkabout or ‘accidentally’ ended up in a handbag! Apparently you can buy these at the bar, not sure how true or legal that is. But the make and model is Rockingham Forge LHK – 8036, just in case you want to track one down!
Probably about time that I moved on to the food… The menu is short, very short, one steak (plus a daily special), five sides and four sauces. The Flat Iron Steak £10, served with a cute little house leaf salad, was amazing value. Sure it wasn’t melt in the mouth tender, what do you expect for a tenner? It had a proper bite to it and an amazing full, meaty flavour. The team spent over nine months and went through 38 suppliers to find you this ‘no frills, no fuss’ cut of meat and it was well worth it.
The actual steak was perfectly seasoned, cooked exactly as ordered and served on a wooden and stone platter, pre-cut into bite-sized pieces which kind of defeats the object of the cleaver, but hey.
The sides were just as good. The Dripping Cooked Chips £2.50 were not chunky chip-shop sized or skinny french fries but somewhere satisfyingly in the middle with a great crunch. The Market Greens £2.50 were as fresh and crisp as humanly possible. Whilst the candied pecans and creamy blue cheese made Sophie’s Salad £3.50 one of the best salads that I’ve eaten in ages. Saff also ordered the spicy tomato based Fred’s Sauce £1, this little pot packed in a lot of flavour.
Just when we thought that the meal had come to an end, Saff remembered the St John’s Bakery rhubarb & custard donuts that we saw downstairs. We heard a rumour that you can order the off-menu desserts if you ask, that rumour was true. We went for a donut along with a Chocolate salted caramel mousse both £2.50. The donut’s filling was the classic mix of slightly sour rhubarb and sweet vanilla custard. It looked a lot more uniform in shape to the irregular donuts that we had in Pitt Cue a while back, and almost too perfect.
The mousse was a lot more fun… An empty glass was slammed on the table and pumped full of the light caramel mousse with a gourmet non-aerosol whipper (a bit like a giant ‘squirty cream’ can). We we left to sprinkle some sea salt over the top. I bet a lot of fun could be have with that canister…
Service at Flat Iron is quick and turnaround is fast, but we never felt rushed. And a two-course quality steak dinner with a beer for under £25 is incredible, especially as it’s slap bang in the centre of Soho.
The group of three girls who were sharing our table looked so impressed with the amount of food that was served for the they price paid. One of them even exclaimed ‘Wow! That’s almost like a meal’. We had to giggle, but we kind of understood what she meant.
17 Beak St, Soho, LondonW1F 9RW
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus