The praises of Flat Iron had reached my ears some time ago and I had long been looking forward to seeing if the hype was worth it. Opportunity struck when I realised my new working location had a Flat Iron just 5 minutes away, and I decided I would take advantage of their lunch menu.
Upon arrival at their Shoreditch location, the decor certainly makes an impact: rustic, basic with heavy use of wood furnishings. Paper napkins, no tablecloths, a bare wooden bench to sit on, a mini clever instead of a knife for cutlery, and a fire at the end of the restaurant: the overall mood is ‘lumberjack’. Admittedly this isn’t my usual preference, but it is appropriate for a steak house and I appreciated the cohesive theme.
The ‘no fuss’ first impression turns out to be the theme for the experience: the popcorn you’re served upon seating is served in a basic cup, and the menu itself is pared down to the essentials: the flat iron steak itself, a few side dishes and sauces, and one dessert. The menu also includes drinks, cocktails and another more expensive meat offering that’s for two to share, but that’s basically it (at least for lunch). Naturally, I ordered a flat iron steak which – as you can see – is served with a green salad in a cup (similar to the popcorn cup), and a portion of creamed spinach.
The service was courteous and friendly, and efficient almost to a fault: I was a little taken aback by how quickly the wooden board with my medium-rare steak on top arrived at my table. Luckily, my hesitation quickly faded upon the moment I had my first taste. I must admit, it was really delicious! Tender, juicy, with just enough sea salt on top to enhance the flavour.
I am a great lover of meat: I’ve enjoyed Japanese wagyu, Argentinean asado, Steak Florentine, New York Strip steak, fillets, sirloins, T-bones and more (and that’s just considering beef). So, as someone who enjoys meat dishes far and wide, I’m not easily impressed. And let’s be clear: this is by no means the best steak of my life. However, it really is unexpectedly good and, in the context of value for money ( £11 for 200g of well cooked meat), I was quite happy.
Worth noting that the popcorn was flavoured with beer drippings was a tasty welcome (the flavour was more delicate than expected and by no means overpowering) given that there are no starter options, the creamed spinach was well balanced (I have often found establishments that serve versions with high cream/low spinach proportions), and the salad had a delicate dressing which made the greens feel like a little treat without adding any high calorie content.
On this particular visit I didn’t opt for dessert, but I was impressed to see that when you order the caramel mousse, they bring you a cup with a big pressurised spray can, and they spray the mousse right into the cup at your table. I found this impressive because I realised from an operational standpoint, this must be the most efficient dessert option for a restaurant: no prepping in the kitchen, no baking, no plating, no muss or fuss. However, as someone who sees dessert as a treat in every sense of the word, it feels like it takes away some of the magic.
So, overall? I found it remarkable how efficiently run every step of this experience was: it was optimised to perfection. But therein lies its fault: it was done so to such an obvious and externally visible extent that I felt very much like part of the assembly line. Sure, I was in and out in less than a half hour, but isn’t that what fast food is for? However, what I did eat I enjoyed and, considering most work lunches consist of a sandwich at one’s desk, this was overall quite a good one. And yes, I would come here again – particularly to see the difference with the dinner experience (if there is one).
For those who keep track (as I do), the approximated calorie count for the steak, salad, creamed spinach and popcorn is estimated at 764.
Food taste: 3.5 / 5
Food/table presentation: 3 / 5
Service: 3.5 / 5
Atmosphere/decor: 3 / 5
Value for money: 3 / 5
Overall rating: 3.2 / 5