The Restaurant: Flat Iron, 17 Beak Street, London W1F 9RW
The Hungry Ones:
Gemma and Claire Ordered: The Flat Iron Burger, dripping-cooked chips, roast aubergine, red wine.
Going to a no-reservations restaurant in Soho for lunch is always a bit of a gamble. You could roll a six, walk straight to a table and be in for a fantastic lunch; similarly, you could roll a one, be turned away and end up at the local branch of Pizza Express. Taking lunch early usually ups the odds of getting in somewhere good, but even this is risky – today we turned up at Pitt Cue at 12.15pm, a mere 15 minutes after opening, to be told there was a 25 minute wait. Fine if you have the luxury of a leisurely day, impossible if you are on your lunch hour. Luckily, there were several good restaurants around the corner and, being still early, we managed to nab a table at Flat Iron on Beak Street.
Ironically, Flat Iron is famous for the length of its queues. Once word got out that there was a restaurant selling excellent £10 steaks, hungry Londoners could barely contain their excitement. Once when I walked past, the queue had extended well past Carnaby Street. Their main thing is the steak: the name of the restaurant, in fact, comes from the only cut they sell: the flat iron cut which, I found out after some online digging, is cut from the featherblade. Occasionally, they add a lunch special burger to their menu, which is also £10 and made from the flat iron meat, and which drew us in from the street. According to our waitress it had been voted ‘the best burger in London’, although she didn’t say by whom.
The burger was actually really, really good. I found out this afternoon that the patties are deep-fried in beef fat, which certainly explains a lot. Having never had a burger made with flat iron meat before, I had nothing to compare it to, but this meat was incredibly flavoursome. The patty had the slightly rough texture of a homemade burger rather than the ubiquitous perfectly-round patties found in lesser quality restaurants. It was perfectly pink in the middle and dark and crispy on the outside. The burger comes with bernaise sauce and finely chopped shallot as standard and, controversially, comes without cheese. Cheese is usually a must for both Claire and myself on all burgers, but the buttery richness of the bernaise sauce means that you don’t really miss it. Even a thin slice of slappy cheese would be overkill.
The best part was the side dishes. Claire, having been here before, was the expert and suggested we order both the dripping-fried chips and the roasted aubergine. The chips require little more description than that they are fried in dripping – if, like me, this is your bag, you will be in heaven – light and crispy and soft in the middle. The roasted aubergine was like a little dish of aubergine parmigiana with just the right amount of cooking. Did I mention that we had a carafe of red wine too? A bargain at £11 and very, very good. It would have been rude not to.