It’s enchanting, I’m sure, to hear your toddler utter new words and grasp associations. Less enchanting, perhaps, when said small person points at their pregnant mother and says ‘big boobs’, then at their dad and says ‘small boobs’. Ouch.
We pondered this and many other adorable things kids get up to with our Negronis at the workbench bar in the very-new, very-cool Flat Iron on Beak Street, with our friend G and the ready-to-pop Mrs/Dr G. She is so nearly there that I was quietly saying prayers last week that it wouldn’t happen at the table. Fortunately, she is a brilliant doctor so would no doubt deal with the whole thing whilst we all stood around with hot water and towels whimpering/passing out. It’s definitely true that these later stages of pregnancy are miraculous; her hair had a salon-fresh look and positively bounced, her eyes twinkled even in the near darkness*. These shiny outward signs of course belied a great deal of discomfort, not to mention a violent hankering after a glass of wine. Flat Iron is a no reservations kind of place, but half the fun is in the waiting, in their very lively bar in the basement. I hope it will be the only waiting the Gs have to do this month…
Vegetarians, take heed: Flat Iron does meat. Steak. Really well. (Not like that – though they made a concession for Mrs/Dr G.) The Flat Iron is the American name for the Butler’s steak, cut with the grain from the shoulder of the animal. It can be tough if treated in the wrong hands. Turns out these are the right hands; after an amuse-bouche of popcorn cooked in beef dripping, the steaks came sliced on the diagonal on their own little boards, and beautifully seasoned; the BSG didn’t reach for the salt or pepper throughout. Each of us was equipped with a little meat cleaver instead of a knife (they might need to electronically tag these covetable things as they may go the way of the Quaglino’s ashtrays…) These were purely aesthetic but rather useful for trowelling on the amazing peppercorn sauce (you could choose between this, Béarnaise, horseradish and Fred’s Sauce, a tomato/Tabasco delight.)
If you’re going to master and serve only one thing, then each accompaniment has to be perfectly done. No complaints there. When I say that the chips carried the initial aroma of a McDonald’s bagful I mean it as the highest possible compliment. They were savoury and crisp. The creamed spinach was so good we ordered another dish of it, and a baked aubergine dish barely touched the sides. A little French glass of lamb’s lettuce with sharp, nutty vinaigrette offered a few mouthfuls to cut through the richness of it all.
In our enthusiasm, we felt it only right to cram in a pudding. And golly I am glad of it. The BSG tucked into a freshly baked doughnut** filled with rhubarb cream; if a test of enjoyment is measured by residue on the face then I’d venture that it passed. The rest of us plumped for the salted caramel mousse, expertly squirted into our glasses by our lovely waitress who then advised that we sprinkled it with salt (explaining its presence on the table). DELICIOUS, fun and light, and the perfect end to an immensely exciting evening (though thank goodness no baby arrived).
We left Flat Iron feeling thrilled and inspired. Needless to say, the BSG is on the hunt for an old soda canister to recreate the extraordinary pudding theatre at home (stand back – he rather fancies a savoury cheese soufflé version, coupled with blowtorch to brown the top) and I am pondering dream doughnut fillings; peanut butter and raspberry jam, anyone?
* Excuse the dingy photos, it really was dark in there.
**They serve doughnuts in the bar downstairs where you can gorge on them before you have your supper… Why the heck not? If my 7-year old self ran a restaurant, I’d have definitely made this rule.