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17 Beak Street
As the price of steak and chips in London nudges inexorably closer to three figures, it’s reassuring to find a credible joint that cheerfully does the business for a tenner. This one-time Shoreditch pop-up turned Soho hit has quite literally made its name with the ‘flat iron’ steak (a ‘secondary’ cut taken from the featherblade). The menu may be minimal, but that doesn’t make choosing any easier: horseradish or béarnaise sauce; creamed spinach or blue cheese salad; craft beer or spicy house red? The special burger is also a must if it’s advertised. Otherwise, the eponymous steaks are tender, flavoursome and seasoned with a wallop, though it seems churlish to quibble at these prices. Cramped communal seating and no reservations are a drag, but the downstairs cocktail bar more than makes amends.
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17 Beak Street
Piccadilly Circus Tube Station 375m
Oxford Circus Tube Station 396m
Beak Street 29m
Regent Street 98m
Mon-Sun 12N-11pm (Sun -10.30pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
Yes, there is in inflation of steak and burger joints in central London. Yes there is an inflation of “no reservation” restaurants, but every now and again something truly original stands out. Following last year's pop-up experience, Flat Iron has now got a permanent home in Soho. There is only one thing on the menu and that is a perfectly cooked, perfectly sliced, juicy steak. Who cares what cut of the beast it comes from. The sides are fantastic. The baked aubergine is a personal favorite. We understand that there is a daily special and yesterday it was the Flat Iron burger. I know that there has been a bit of competition among the purveyors of posh/gourmet burgers in town lately. I have sampled some myself but I am happy to report that the Flat Iron burger wins the competition hands down. No monumental toppings, no preposterous mince mixes, no fancy sauces distracting from the experience. This is about the meat, its pure flavor, a dash of bernaise and a sprinkle of shallots, encased in the fluffiest sesame bun ever. The wine and beer list is short, well selected and to the point. There is only one dessert on the menu and is a real surprise: a salt caramel mouse freshly squirted in a small glass. Heaven. The prices are very good value, the decor just the right side of trendy without trying too hard and the service friendly and attentive. I love this place. Just two things though: for goodness' sake, get an espresso machine and do not become a chain.
Food + drink: 3
Our tactical error here was to arrive late, but not late enough: at 8.00, the queue was down the stairs and out the door of the pub over which the restaurant sits. By the time we sat down nearly two hours later, there were spare seats at the tables. To compound our error, we spent the time in the queue drinking (it is above a pub, and there is sod all else to do), so were pretty smashed, and in need of food, by the time we reached the top of the stairs.
The place is not going to be around long enough for us to make this error again as, this being Shoreditch, it is a pop-up.
This is trendy. There are beards. There are tattoos. There are trousers with gussets warn down by the ankles. I should have taken my 17 year old niece; I went with my 40+ year old mate who, still clinging to the last vestiges of youth, has bought a pretty amazing triplex (he’s American) in the area, with vast sweeping terraces, that reminds him of New York. I’m not sure that the right comparison isn’t Soho rather than SoHo, but the area does have an up and coming feel about it. Which means it is over: the hipsters, the artists, the vegans; they’ll all move on now to somewhere that really is edgy, and the forty-somethings with money, Apple Macs and an edgy side will move in.
Having finally mounted the stairs, we entered the waiting area. A bar. More drinks – cocktails now. Nice cocktails, and, at £6 a pop, way beyond reasonable. So we could hardly stand by the time we were seated. Yes, yes; I know that this is our fault, but don’t make such bloody good cocktails and make us stand around for ages, with nothing to nibble on but some popcorn. Nice popcorn I should add.
Having finally got seated, we ordered straight away. Not difficult, as there is only one thing on the menu: steak. The unfancied skirt to be precise (the rumour that wagyu was going to be on the menu for the last few nights proved to be just that: a rumour). This comes with a salad, for a mere ten notes. As if that’s not good enough, dripping fried chips are thin and crunchy, and the roast aubergine as good a dish as you can find for the purple fruit outside of the Middle East. OK, so they forgot to give us knives, but what the heck: the juicy meat, cooked perfectly to your specification, comes on a wooden board pre-chopped, so not at all a concern.
There are wines listed on the menu, but by this stage it was cocktails or nothing. So cocktails it was: make your own Bloody Marys. These come as the raw ingredients, to be assembled by you to your liking. And what ingredients: fresh tomato juice, smoked vodka, beef stock, freshly grated horseradish (one member of staff seemed solely to be grating the stuff, on a big grater sat proudly in the middle of the (by now, almost empty) dining room), rosemary salt, lemon, as well as the more usual Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces.
Service is really friendly, and, once seated, swift and efficient (knives aside).
There is no doubt that the skirt steak is unfancied for a reason: let’s be honest, it isn’t the best of cuts. But it is still a nice enough one, one cooked nicely enough here; were this to be a more permanent pop-up, I’d go back. But at 6.00 or 10.00, not at 8.00.
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