After much talk and anticipation I thought it was time again to overcome my fear of the no booking system and head to the Flat Iron branch in Beak Street, the value for money steak establishment.
Flat Iron follows the new trend of restaurants which only allows walk in diners- no bookings allowed. Queuing for restaurants is something my stomach loathes and in my opinion just builds up expectations and ruins my evening schedule. If I’m expected to wait then the food better be pretty damn good.
Unfortunately Flat Iron doesn’t quite meet the expectations of many restaurants I’ve had to queue for in the past. Polpo. Dishoom, Tayaabs and Honest Burger are just some of the restaurants where I’ve had to eagerly wait to eat but I’ve always left feeling that the wait was definitely worth it.
The restaurant itself was right up my street; a distinct industrial chic interior with large wooden slabs for table tops, exposed brick walls and vintage lighting.
At the table you’re greeted by a mug of soft buttery popcorn and instead of the usual steak knife; a novelty miniature meat cleaver- not great if you have homicidal tendencies and also a little bit awkward to use. The service is quick and efficient; the menu clearly explained by their meat loving knowledgeable staff who talked us through the flat iron steak and the available specials with suggestions on how rare they should be cooked for maximum taste.
Flat iron is not a cut I’m familiar with and I was curious about how tender and flavoursome it would be. My eating partner and I ordered our steaks medium rare and rare respectively, and seeing as our meat didn’t take much cooking our steaks arrived swiftly. Our meats were accompanied by dripping (…mmm fat…) cooked chips and creamed spinach served in charming rustic tins and one of the best tasting béarnaise sauces I’ve ever had.
My steak was cooked rare as I had asked; I was relieved as the flat iron is just as the name suggests; the cut of meat is thin and therefore easy to overcook. Unfortunately, perfectly cooked as it was, my meat had been over seasoned and tasted as if there had been one too many pinches of salt. As the steak was also pre-cut for you, the heat from the meat dissipated much more quickly leaving cold, thin strips of steak at the end. The beef fat chips was not as I thought they would be and didn’t quite have the crunch and crisp that I was expecting; they had felt rushed as if it needed just a little more frying to achieve that wow factor that comes with calorific fat-fried sticks of potato. And just like the steak, the creamed spinach was too salty.
To top my meal off one of the waitresses had dripped beef juices all over me as she delivered fresh slabs of steak to the diners next to us. Unfortunately, steak served on rimless slabs of wood combined with tightly packed tables is not practical and I could see that beef dripping incidents were bound to happen. Unfortunately it was me and as much as I thought I would like rolling around in steak juice I couldn’t help but keep smelling myself. I smelt like dead cow. The waitress offered to give me the number to call their drycleaners; something I knew I was too lazy to do and instead gave my friend and I a strangely textured caramel mousse with more salt (something I didn’t need more of) to be sprinkled on top.
I left Flat Iron a) wishing I had asked for a discount off my bill rather than eating a few teaspoons of caramel mousse; b) smelling of beef and c) flat.
I was disappointed with my visit and I’m bewildered by the high ratings on yelp and trip advisor. No doubt, it’s excellent value for money with only £10 for a flat iron steak. But to be honest Flat Iron is average, there are so many better steak restaurants out there; Roxie’s steakhouse with branches across South London gives you mouth-watering tender fillet steak for just £13.95 or pay that little bit more for steakhouses such as El Gaucho, the Argentinean establishment in South Kensington (not to be confused with the Gaucho steak branches) or splash out entirely for beef decadence at the Hawksmoor.