Last May, I wrote about Flat Iron as the best value steak in London. I had just visited their second restaurant on Denmark street just outside Soho. Now a third, and largest yet, restaurant is open for business in the heart of Covent Garden – 17/18 Henrietta St, WC2E 8QH – proving once again that London’s desire for beef has not waned. Seafood restaurants beware!
Flat Iron was founded as a pop-up within a London pub, serving £10 flat iron cuts of beef. It was a little-known cut for the UK back in the summer of 2012, perhaps because it’s slightly harder to butcher. The flat iron steak is well-marbled, juicy and tender and while it has been popular in the US for some time, I think we can now declare it truly a London success by 2015/16.
Flat Iron grabbed success with their £10 cut of steak and ever since, have not raised their prices. One thing that has changed: the restaurant size. The minuscule Beak Street and Denmark Street locations are dwarfed by the 4,000 sq feet of room on Henrietta Street which can accommodate 180 diners. That’s good news, as the extra room means you’re more likely to get a table (there are no reservations). That said, I still waited about 45 minutes on a Friday night for my callback.
The Covent Garden restaurant features a glass-fronted butchery room that shows off the beef as you enter. Downstairs there is a working on-site microbrewery and just inside the front door you’ll find and old-time ice cream counter. And it’s worth noting: they give you an salted-caramel ice cream for free when you’re on your way out!
The menu is still anchored by the £10 flat iron steak – it’s juicy, rich, flavorful and tender if you don’t ruin it by ordering anything above medium-rare. But, what I saw on my last visit is that Flat Iron is getting into daily specials that go up on the blackboard as the evening wears on. We enjoyed a £12 flank steak, shown here, in addition to a flat iron. They also were rotating through some other cuts on the chalkboard as we ate. I saw a little sirloin cut and chateaubriand being written up there after all the flank steaks were polished off by the hungry horde.
These are the cuts that sell by weight and measure up against the Zelmans, Hawksmoors and Goodman’s of London. An appropriate-sized piece of sirloin or chateaubriand at Flat Iron will run you towards the £30 mark. A result, I suppose of having that on-site butchery.
As ever, the resident special is the béarnaise-smothered burger, but you’ll only hear this from the wait-staff – it won’t appear on that new specials board. The burger is served on a toasted sesame seed bun with some diced onions. That’s it – direct and to the point. You can get a variety of hipster-sounding dips to spice it up a bit, but I like it as it is. The ground beef is up to the standard of Flat Iron’s steaks – a bit lean for a burger – but delicious nonetheless.
Very soon, Flat Iron will be opening yet another venue in Shoreditch, East London. Another step forward, but also a return to their 2012 pop-up roots. Flat Iron started as a pop-up within a pub on Redchurch Street and soon will open not too far away on Curtain Road, EC2A 3BS. They anticipate opening on 20 June, 2016.
The Shoreditch restaurant will serve as a living gallery as well! Anything you can touch or see if basically for sale from the Flat Iron gallery list. All the furniture pieces, light fixtures, stools, chairs, pepper mills or even the signature mini steak cleavers. All these things are custom designed for Flat Iron restaurants and therefore can be bought – for a price. If you see something you like at Flat Iron Shoreditch, you can buy it – just ask for the Gallery Pricelist.
Flat Iron has well and truly made it in the London steak scene. All without sacrificing their true differentiation: the £10 steak. To have grown and thrived on such a moderately priced cut of beef just reminds us of how carnivorous the London crowd is in this day and age. And ever may it be!