A ten-pound steak in Central London sounds like a good opening line for a joke.
Londoners belong to a very special breed of customers. At the announcement of a new restaurant, they behave more like a jury in the trial of O.J. Simpson rather than the crowd at Woodstock. Their experience in spending money has made them a demanding crowd; they do not get excited, they scrutinize and inspect, they cross-reference and debate, before any conclusion can be reached. Flat Iron has been under surveillance for almost a year now, making its appearance as a pop-up in Redchurch Street before being granted by the London crowd, a permanent residence in Soho.
A ten-pound steak in Central London sounds like a good opening line for a joke. After being told more than once that Flat Iron is a real place and not the subject matter of any sort of joke, I decided to satisfy my culinary curiosity. I arrived at the doorstep of the restaurant ten minutes before five in the afternoon, a time of day designed to avoid the no-reservation crowds that get unleashed during rush hour, ready to devour anyone who even thinks of jumping the queue.
The setting is as plain as the menu. Wooden benches imply communal seating and the flat iron steak is the only main course available. The menu is completed with the choice of a few sides, sauces and the day’s special. The downstairs bar is designed for the customers on the queue. A selection of cocktails and beers aim to keep you interested whilst waiting but if they don’t do the trick, there is a classy act to satisfy everyone; St John’s Bakery doughnuts.
I was greeted, seated and ten minutes later had my flat iron steak, peppercorn sauce and fries right in front of me. I guess having only a pair of possible mains makes the kitchen fast and the service even faster. The steak was sliced with medical precision on a simple wooden plank. The presentation exposed the one and only hero of the meal, the steak. It was pink and tender in the middle with a flavorsome crust on the outside, sealing the juices in the meat. It was steak done the way it should be. Sea salt on top and textbook crunchy fries completed a carnivore experience that raises the bar for the steak scene in London.
When you have a meal as aesthetically pleasing as the one in Flat Iron, you do not think about dessert, unless you are The Apposite. What could possibly match the ingenious simplicity of perfectly cooked and presented steak? The answer came in a whipped cream dispenser. The waitress filled my glass with a cloud of caramel mousse and suggested sprinkling sea salt on top to add some zing. The dessert resulted in a battle between the punchy flavor and the velvety texture. For a moment, I was tempted to steal the dispenser but the possibility of not being able to return here stopped me.
When the bill touched my table, laughter came as a reflex. Flat Iron is not a joke after all, but it definitely gives you reasons to smile.
17 Beak St