Harden's survey result
“They put the price up from £10 to £11, but it still can’t be faulted!” – for a “a great steak, without any frills” this “always busy, lively and buzzy” chain remains “a winning formula”: “it’s so nice to have a simple menu choice, and what they do, they do very well”; this includes the very impressively “friendly and professional service-with-a-smile”. One catch: “you have to put up with no bookings”, so “be prepared to queue”. But “if you want a great meal on a budget: go visit!”
“If steak ’n’ chips is what you want, then it’s hard to beat”, this “simple, yet very effective” small chain, which is “all about doing just one thing and doing it right”: “superbly cooked” meat from a “limited choice” of cuts (majoring in the ‘flat iron’ itself) plus salad, “no starters or dessert, but a free ice cream cone as you leave”. “A simple set up”, it inspired “no complaints” this year, even if – with expansion, including a new King’s Cross branch – ratings are not quite as exciting as once they were.
“If you are only going to do one thing, do it well ...and they do!” Charlie Carroll’s small chain offers “a limited menu but a great piece of steak” (plus a veggie alternative), which is “simply and perfectly cooked” and “free homemade ice cream is a lovely surprise” to finish. “You don’t go for an intimate meal, but service is straightforward and effective”. (Expect more expansion, as he just raised £10m from Piper private equity to grow the brand.)
“If you want simple steak, well-delivered at a bargain price, you can’t go wrong” with these “consistent and effective” West End haunts (where “the unfashionable flat iron cut is elevated to first rank, and identified farms and rearing practices give credibility to the final product”). “Despite fairly basic surroundings, they feel somehow pleasant” even if “the queues are less great” (“they take your mobile number and text you when your table’s ready”).
Flat Iron W1
Just off Carnaby Street, an amiable bistro (on the former site of Benja, RIP), offering a top-value steak/frites formula in a tightly-packed communal setting surprisingly evocative of Old Soho.
The name nearly put us off checking out this new bistro, just off Carnaby Street. Yet another hommage Ã Downtown NYC? And, to make it worse, located just a few doors from the seminal bare-bricks-and-filament-bulb shrine which is Polpo.
Turns out, though, we'd missed the space in the name. Though the title is presumably intended to echo the moniker of the early-wave Gotham skyscraper, it is in fact all to do with the US cut of steak they serve (known in England as a Butler's Steak) which, foodwise, is essentially all they do.
For a tenner a time, though, we doubt you'll find much better meat, certainly not in the West End. You can have a small but tasty steak, with a (modest) bowl of very good chips, a (very small) salad, a (tiny) pot of béarnaise and a 250ml carafe of wine, all for under £20. No wonder this tightly-packed communal-tables space was pretty full on our early-days lunchtime visit.
Regular readers may know we're rather bemused by the current rage for huge steakhouses serving enormous chunks of meat at prices to match. This amiable bistro - which, despite its name, conjures up something of the atmosphere of 'Old Soho' - seems to us to offer a great corrective.
photo credit: Paul Winch-Furness
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