Sense of direction has never been my forte, but getting lost, well that I can do. Put me in a car and remove the Sat Nav, I’m a gonner. Once it took me three hours to get from Hertfordshire to Highgate. What’s more, I’m not a ‘oh I’m late, it doesn’t matter’ type of gal. I’m painfully punctual. Being late stresses me out, being lost stresses me out – the combination of the two; well it’s a dire formula. On the aforementioned occasion – a friend’s parents’ Bollywood-themed 25th wedding anniversary – my fake tanned face looked like a marble cake; such were the extent of my tears.
Anyway, I digress. Back to being lost, which is precisely where I found (ironically) myself last week: lost in the Autumnal rain mid-way down Carnaby Street. I’d looked at the map before I left; I’d marked out which roads I needed to go down, but to no avail. I must be genetically predisposed to be anti-directionally brained (not anti One Direction, no, I love them) and there I was, looking left and right with absolutely no clue. If I were pre 90s, I’d have been properly stuffed. But, as it was, I (embarrassingly) resorted to whipping out my Ipad and using the Sat Nav – to walk. I mean honestly.
But it worked…I followed the dotted technological equivalent to the yellow brick road and found myself (and my dining companion (already waiting)) outside the night’s eatery: Flat Iron. Another steak joint in Soho, my sister had recommended it a while back, but things had been (and still are) so hectic (and I mean B-U-S-Y) that there had just been no time. But, sometimes the schedule needs to be cleared for a special occasion. Sometimes you need to take a couple of hours’ breather, sink a good bottle of red and relax. This was my reasoning, well that and the fact that I was being treated. Turn down a free meal on the town? Rare. Turn down a free meal with the fantastic company that is Tom? Never.
My good friend – another Tom – was taking me out as a belated thank you for the South of France trip. He’d asked where I wanted to go and I’d given him the following options: Lima, Hawksmoor, Goodman or Flat Iron. In the mood for steak, but having frequented Hawksmoor and Goodman regularly with work, he opted for my last suggestion. And though last, it was by no means least.
And so it was that we arrived at Flat Iron last Tuesday. The restaurant was, surprise, surprise, a no-book (and small) so we had a 45-minute wait. That was on a Tuesday, I dread to think what it would be like later on in the week. But, with a bar next door, this went quickly and soon we were nestled into our seats. Well as much as one can nestle into seats at Flat Iron. They’re more seesaws than chairs. Luckily Tom is a 6ft-odd rugby player, so my side of the playground staple was up. But bear in mind, if your date is smaller than you…well it could be embarrassing. Fortunately it would take a fair few steaks to change the gravitational pull in our case, so I had no hesitation in tucking in.
Much like Entrecôte before it, Flat Iron has few menu choices, but what it does serve, it serves well. And unlike Entrecôte (and indeed Hawksmoor and Goodman) it doesn’t burst the bank: £10 for a steak, £2.50 – £3 for sides, and £1 a pot of sauce. This wondrous news for the frugals among us, stems from the quality of meat; it’s not great. But Flat Iron masks this brilliantly through the ingenious mechanism of the pre-slice. What would be difficult to cut with knife, comes already chopped – and finely chopped meat is, well, very chewable – as in, easy to chew.
Tom and I partnered our steaks with a selection of sides…okay all of the sides: dripping cooked chips, creamed spinach, today’s market greens, Sophie’s salad (blue cheese, candied pecans, lemon dressing), and roast aubergine with tomato, basil and Parmesan. Then, after a few token pics with the meat cleavers, we attacked.
The dripping chips tasted uncannily like McDonald’s french fries, which though unexpected, both tasted nice and were a pleasant nostalgic reminder of the journey back to school (past the Peterborough service station). Quite the feat for a bit of cooked potato.
The aubergine mix tasted like Moussaka, the Sophie’s salad moreish, but not enough blue cheese (I’m a blue cheese fiend), the market greens were true to their name – green beans, and the creamed spinach was definitely creamed. Creamed to smitherines. Why blend spinach? It’s so delicious in its entirety. I wanted a side, not soup.
But back to the main event – the steak. As touched upon, it was not the best quality, but it was cooked very well and amply seasoned (rocks of salt…yummy). The chef/s had tenderised the flesh brilliantly (a good battering with rolling-pin perhaps?) and made a weak cut, a good eat. Hats off to them! (Go for the béarnaise).
Would I return? For that price – most definitely.
Flat Iron, 17 Beak St, London, Greater London W1F 9RW