The second Flat Iron opened last July. This could be the start of something big, or at least lots of little somethings if the size of the Beak Street branch is anything to go by.
Flat Iron fits perfectly into its environment. The area has long been trendy, bohemian and edgy. Carnaby Street is just around the corner and that was a magnet in the Sixties for anyone with an eye for tie-dye or a passion for perfumed joss sticks. Those days have gone and now the area boasts fashionable boutiques and some very worthy eateries.
Flat Iron is a bijou restaurant set over three floors. This is one of the few restaurants in London where one might need to queue. Once invited in there is still the prospect of further waiting but at least that time could be spent in the cosy bar.
The restaurant walls are bare brick. The lights are low and the lamps over the tables look as if they might have enjoyed a previous incarnation in Battersea Power Station, but it’s rumoured that they once graced the ceiling of Smithfield Meat Market. This is tastefully urban with hints of rustic. The menu is short and writ large on brown paper and pinned to the wall. The tables are communal benches and the wine glasses are the same as the water tumblers. There is a wine list and that offers wine by the glass, carafe and bottle, and these are all at very reasonable prices. The popcorn arrives unbidden in a large enamel mug.
Charlie Carroll is the founder and he evidently knows meat. He is bold enough to have created a menu with just one main item. That’s the eponymous Flat Iron steak that is underrated and seldom seen in other restaurants. Flat iron steak is the American name for the cut known as Butlers’ Steak in the UK, although I have never some across that on my local butcher’s slab. This cut of steak is from the shoulder blade of a cow. It’s tender, juicy and flavourful.
The basic order of flat iron steak and the house salad costs only a crisp tenner. There are few meals in the capital that contain any discernible amount of beef that can be had for that price. Not only is the cost low but the quality is high. The steak is simply presented on a tile chopping board with a fork and a meat cleaver. This cleaver is a miniature of that used by the butcher and isn’t necessary cutlery, as the meat is already sliced into bite-size morsels.
Apart from the house salad there are several side dishes on offer like dripping-cooked chips, creamed spinach and market greens, along with several sauces – peppercorn, a secret house sauce and an outstanding horseradish cream that will enhance the steak and clear the sinuses. I guess that makes it a health food!
There is a dessert available. It’s a chocolate and caramel mousse that is squirted before your very eyes, into a miniature mug. A pot of sea salt for sprinkling is served alongside. Once again a no-frills item but it works and was pronounced as moreish by my companion.
Flat Iron is accessible in every way. It might not be the choice for a romantic night out but it’s perfect for a good-value meal with friends. I am impressed by the food, friendly service and the concept. I’ll be back for a steak, chips and a nice bottle of red. The good life.
17 Beak St
London W1F 9RW
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018