Review: Flatiron burger, Soho

Liking the branded cleavers

Flatiron is a small restaurant in Soho (Beak Street) known mainly for its namesake steaks, at £10 a pop. I’ve been meaning to pop in for a while and walked past at just the right time on a solo wander around the capital, it seemed perfect for lunch. I was seated quickly at a shared table (this is a no booking kind of place) in the narrow dining room. No nonsense decor was still stylish and suited the atmosphere. I liked the branded meat-cleaver style knives as well. Complimentary popcorn was brought quickly as I sat down. The waitress sold me on the burger this time round, not the steak, as the special and apparently voted the best in London, quite a claim.

Quite a bun

Excellent saladSo the burger special came with Bearnaise sauce / shallots, and apparently the patty is deep-fried (I requested pink). The buns are from St. John bakery, a good sign. And I went off-menu for my sides, no chips and instead a green salad. What actually came was a pear, blue cheese and walnut salad, luckily I like those ingredients. The pear was soft and sweet, a nice tang from the cheese, crunch from the walnuts and a great mixture of leaves. A very good side salad. As to the main event, the burger had a crisp crust to its exterior as you might expect from the cooking. The patty was beefy with that slight grass-fed funk. However it was a tiny bit dry, I think they need more fat in the mix to get it juicier. And it didn’t have any sharp ingredients (pickles) to cut through the meat. Bearnaise was good, but I’m not sure it’s a great ingredient on a burger personally. The bun had a good flavour and bite, but was a tad big for the patty size.

Overall, a good burger, although not the cheapest at £10 without sides. The beer list is good with some local London brews so all-in the bill was £20. I’ll be back to try the steak for sure, and quite possibly for another go at the burger.

 

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Review: One Sixty, West End Lane, NW6

You'll need the kitchen roll

NW6 was my stomping ground for quite a few years until recently. And having explored the area thoroughly for 5 years or so, it had got … stale. A few decent pubs, a few good Indian restaurants and the very notable Wet Fish cafe aside, I always found the mix of cafes and restaurants a bit odd, lots of distinctly average places in an area with a glut of young, well-heeled professionals.

Excellent bottled beer selection

So it was exciting to see a new opening (that wasn’t another Italian cafe or short-lived sushi restaurant). It was a smokehouse and bar, very on-trend and hopefully going to kick some life into the main high street, West End Lane. I was even more intrigued to see David Moore involved, the Michelin starred Marylebone restauranteur. We arrived at 9.15pm on a Thursday two weeks after opening and it was buzzing, people filling the 80 cover restaurant and a few standing at the long bar. Waiting at the bar, they clearly took their beer seriously with a decent draft selection and extremely good bottled selection, including some smaller London and USA brews. Supping my limited edition German style smoked Flue Faker from Camden, I thought this is looking promising.

Short and inviting

Wings, celery and blue cheese dipNice selection of fresh pickles

We were seated at our booked table shortly after. The decor feels trendy with a slight “stripped back” look but clearly carefully crafted. I particularly liked the photography of high end London butchers on the walls, a nice dedication to the provenance of their key ingredient, meat. The menu is short, focused and full of treats for meat lovers. We opted for some pickles and hot wings to start. The pickles were an interesting mix of salted cucumber, carrot, gherkins and of all things, semi-dried tomatoes. Very fresh with good crunch, I liked the texture of them. I think they needed a touch more vinegary bite, although the carrot had plenty of garlic and the cucumbers a bit too much salt. But, a different variety and fresh. The wings were pretty generous (10 or so), and very moist and meaty for their size. It came with a heavy blue cheese dip and a nice touch of celery sticks. All good, BUT, they were not hot in any definition of the word. I’m all for subtlety in spicing, however the chilli kick was only just discernable. We had ordered some rye bread and marrow (a rather bargainous £1) which didn’t arrive unfortunately.

Look at the smoking on that cheek

Mains, smoked ox cheek arrived for me. Nestled in the classic enamel tins was a decent hunk of cheek, with a very impressive blackened smoke crust. A selection of pickles were in there as well (I wish I had been told since I ordered coleslaw as a side). Beautiful fork-tender meat, it was unfortunately let down with a chronic lack of seasoning. Such a shame since it was perfectly cooked and the pickles cut through the fatty meat. Salt helped alleviate it but a good dry rub 14hrs earlier when the smoking starting would have been a lot better. Phil had the burger, a dangerous move given Phil’s notoriously high burger standards. He was pleased overall with a good medium-rare patty, although the soft bun and large wet tomato caused “structural issues”. A side of chips was fine, a crisp exterior although slightly light interior.

So, £50 for a couple of good beers, some sharing starters and mains was perfectly acceptable (good value even). But, they really have to get a bit more flavour in there, underseasoned smoked meat and underspiced “hot” wings are still hanging offences in some of the lower States of America. Let’s hope they are still settling into the dishes and will perfect them over the next few weeks, I’m sure I’ll be back.

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