Saturday, 6 December 2014

FOOD REVIEW: Flat Iron, London

flat iron steak soho london review
Visited: 9 Denmark St, Soho - Main Location: 17 Beak St, Soho
Carnivores, rejoice. If you're on the hunt for melt-in-your-mouth steak without breaking the bank then look no further, Flat Iron's your answer.

Despite being on my food bucket list for over two years, Jordan and I first visited in September and we (quite literally) kicked ourselves for not going earlier. Whilst I appreciate that it's most likely a cheaper cut of meat compared to those served in Hawksmoor and Goodman, the steak is still uncompromisingly simple and finely cooked. What's more, it's all yours with just a crisp sheet of a £10 note. There are two locations in Soho, we've only dined in the Denmark Street branch but highly recommend it over the Beak Street location. As is the trend in Central London these days, it's a no reservations restaurant so the quieter location benefits from a significantly reduced queuing time - we're talking 10 minutes versus a 1.5-2.5 hour hangry slump. However, it's worth mentioning that there's a thriving bar area downstairs in Beak Street to seat waiting diners with a cocktail (or five) in hand.

Fun fact: Flat Iron even have their own herd based in Yorkshire.

flat iron denmark street london flat iron denmark street interior

Once seated, a salted popcorn filled enamel tin mug is presented with the restaurant's extensive list of beers, cocktails, wines and soft drinks. On these two particular occasions, I stuck with water and had my pre-steak stomach focus on the main event. No alcohol induced bloated tums allowed... until the serial snacker polished off the popcorn.

The menu's simple - for mains, you're given the choice between The Flat Iron Steak or burger (served with a house leaf salad) for £10. The constant changing specials are £15 and range from different cuts of meat to preparation methods. To go alongside your beef, options include the day's market greens, dripping cooked chips, roast aubergines (with tomato, basil and parmesan) creamed spinach and a mixed salad. Sauces are £1.

flat iron popcorn flat iron meat steak mini cleavers

Did anyone spot the mini meat cleavers in replace of traditional steak knives? I'll be honest, it made me feel pretty damn cool. Oh, don't mind me, just cutting my meat up into smaller bite-sized chunks WITH MY SUPER COOL BABY CLEAVER TOOL. Just me?

Moving on, Jordan and I kept it traditional with two medium rare steaks, two portions of chips (despite the dripping-cooked label, it wasn't anything out of the ordinary in taste) and two pots of peppercorn sauce. We meant business. After the initial widening of double hearted emoji eyes and mutual appreciation for the dish, the rest of the meal was enjoyed in content silence. Flat Iron beats the other steakhouses I've tried when comparing the quality against those at a similar price point or even those in the £20+ range. It was incredibly tender and wasn't in any danger of being overcooked, dry or under seasoned.

medium rare steak flat iron peppercorn sauce dripping chips
steak burger flat iron, market greens kale

I returned shortly with my mother and two sisters for lunch and opted for the burger to see how it compared. It wasn't bad... but it wasn't mind-blowingly good either. Despite drowning it in sauce, the overall flavours were bland, the meat was dry (although this was largely due to it being at the tip of being well done despite asking for medium rare) and the cheese didn't do anything to elevate the taste. There are certainly worse burgers out there and it's a great option for those who aren't too keen on a board of steak but after trying its signature dish the first time round, this was underwhelming in comparison. 

Now, to top it all off with dessert. There's always room for dessert particularly if it's a Paul A Young's creation. A salt caramel sundae served as soft serve ice cream with pots of hot Madagascan chocolate sauce and vanilla bean bourbon syrup to drizzle over. I don't think the waitress stopped to take a breath when describing this delight complete with flapping arms and an excited grin - oh lady, we're kindred spirits, you and I.

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We poured the sauces into its glass mixing pot and pulled ourselves across the table charged with a spoon in hand. In a flurry of metals clinking and cutlery scraping against the sides for the last taste, we sat back and melted into our seats. Defeated.

All in all, if you want a happy tummy full of steak for a good price, Flat Iron is your best bet; it's perfectly situated in the heart of Soho for meat-lovers to huddle together. Whether it's for catch-ups with friends over tipples (writing that near Christmas makes me feel like a character from Downton Abbey) or a cosy spot for the perfect date night, Flat Iron's got your back, stomach, drool and heart. I'm still dreaming about it.

Who wants to go next week?

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Halloweekend: Pumpkin and Pancakes

Can you tell that I hold onto festivities and holiday decorations for as long as humanly possible? A week on, I'm still hankering after the smell of pumpkin, tea lights glimmering behind carved designs, overspilling bowls of sweets with orange and black bunting swinging from the ceilings.

As with tradition every year, Jordan's mum has done a perfect job of transforming the house and I can't help but get excited about the day all over again. Despite being a total wimp with horror films and scary stories, I absolutely love the build-up around Hallowe'en and I wish I'm sitting cross-legged with a slice of pumpkin pie on my lap!

Luckily, Christmas is only around the corner and I'm doing a fantastic job of updating everyone around me a daily countdown until the big day (much to their annoyance) so prepare yourselves for themed posts ;)

Until then, I uploaded a Halloweekend vlog of the most amazing pumpkin display in Slindon, a recipe for my matcha buckwheat pancakes and a mini adventure in the quaint historical town of Arundel - it was a good'un!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Slogan Sweatshirt: Black Coffee To Go

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A standout piece for my autumn and winter essentials would most definitely be pleather trousers; it transforms a standard black and white outfit into an attire of complementary monochrome.

As a frequent lover of black coffee, this slogan sweatshirt had an instant one-way ticket to my wardrobe. The text interweaves itself to combine the bold blocks of solid hues together and does a grand job of shortening my caffeine order to the baristas too. I'm half tempted to slope in whilst wearing this and daring to ask for an Americano instead - ladies and gentlemen, this is as wild as it gets.

Shirt - Missguided, Sweatshirt - River Island, Pleather Trousers - ASOS, Boots - Sam Edelman

Monday, 10 November 2014

Prague Day 3: Turning 22 (evening)

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My last post in Prague has been long overdue so I'll try to keep the writing to a minimum (by my standards anyway) and let the photos take the reins. To further fuel the adrenaline from having a python drape itself across my arms, we popped into Absintherie again and opted for the traditional spirits... The cocktails were child's play compared to these. We were given a jug of water each and warned to not gulp it down in one go. Tiny sips, tiny sips. 

We flew back to the hotel, pulled on our evening threads to the soundtrack of 'we're late, we're late for a very important date' and hurried over to the Black Light Theatre for their infamous UV show. Summary: questionable storyline with a weird soundtrack to match although the effects earned itself a few rounds of applause.

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Spot the cheesy grin above? 

Hello surprise birthday strudel.

Jordan made his excuses after dinner to visit the gentleman's room and suddenly, HAPPY BIRTHDAY was blasting out from behind me. Jordan and the waiter were both singing with a chorus of claps from the other diners in the restaurant. The dessert tasted extra sweet :)

Afterwards, we made our way to Hemingway Bar for the last of the birthday cocktails.

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The next morning, we hopped on the bus, rode the metro, boarded the plane and arrived to two smiling familiar faces: Jordan's parents!

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BIRTHDAY GIRL!" they exclaimed. "Wait until you see what we've prepared for your second birthday celebrations."

No matter how perfect and magical celebrating turning 22 in Prague was, it isn't quite a birthday until I've spent it with my second family.

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That's the last of the Prague posts (San Antonio and New York photo diaries to go!)

I'm still grinning from ear to ear looking back at these posts; truly blessed to be surrounded with such loving people. If you've missed the first two days and fancy having a peruse of what we got up to, you can find day one here, day two here and the first part of day three here. I also uploaded a visual summary of the trip with a lot more architecture, museum trips and food if you fancy having a quick peek!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

London Through A Lens #2: Poppies at Dusk

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As it's Remembrance Sunday in the UK, I thought it'd be apt to share the next collection of photographs I had snapped on my travels around the city for my 'London Through A Lens' series today. Although Jordan and I visited the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red art installation by Paul Cummins a few months ago; the wave of ceramic poppies that spilled out from the Tower of London still resonates a powerfully strong imagery in mind.

This is to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom, to remember those who have fallen to protect others and those who fought with their body and spirits for peace. Lest we forget.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

A Dressed Up Face #1: Daytime Smokey Eyes

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Now, I'm not a beauty buff by all means but I do like to ponder over the odd cosmetics counter from time to time, especially when I accidentally find myself stumbling into a department store... or three. Whilst rummaging through my makeup collection the other day, I came across a wicker basket full of once loved palettes and lip products temporarily abandoned for its newer and shinier cousins.

I vowed to put them to use more often which resulted in the snaps above. After a brief stint of reviewing products and posting amateur makeup tutorials on YouTube a few years ago, I decided that beauty blogging just wasn't for me and felt a little out of my depths if I'm perfectly honest! I enjoyed other bloggers' posts and videos though and particularly loved the 'FOTD' feature so thought I'd gingerly step my toes back into the beauty waters again and start up 'A Dressed Up Face' - a series of snaps practising a few different looks from an everyday smoky eye, dramatic liner to berry lips for autumn/winter. Getting experimental here, folks!

Urban Decay Naked Palette in Sin and Gunmetal

Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer in (4) Dark

Clarins Instant Lip Perfector in Apricot Shimmer

Now, back to the millionth time at perfecting my Alexa cat eye flick...

Friday, 7 November 2014

KERB Food and Giant Chess Boards @ Southbank, London

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With November arriving swiftly and settling in for winter, it's a far cry from the bare legs and jacket-less ensemble as seen in the attire sported throughout the post. Intense nostalgia for summer aside, I wanted to share with you one of my favourite haunts in London: the Southbank along with the top food markets in the city, KERB Food.

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With a constant revolving flurry of traders, we paid our visits to Anna Mae's - famed food vendor for their different variations of the American classic Mac 'n' Cheese. As a recent cheese convert (after spending most of my life hating the stuff!), I sniffed around and finally decided on sharing a 'Kanye Western' with Jordan... 90% because of the coined name, I can't help but appreciate a good pun.

A welcome melting pot of carbs, cheese and beef hotdog chunks - it's a meat lover's dream and Jordan reenacted his infamous dramatic eye roll as soon as he had a bite and promptly went on to inhale the whole dish. Although I normally prefer the vegetarian options, I was merrily chomping away although found it a little too heavy for my tastes after a few more mouthfuls! Nonetheless, for £6.50, it's an amazing value with a generous hearty portion, I wouldn't hesitate to order it again on carnivorous days!

big apple hot dog the big polebig apple hot dog the big pole

Inspired by the favourite on-the-go meal lining the streets of New York, Big Apple Hot Dogs was next on our list. Using free range 94-98% GF sausage meat from their local butchers, it's undoubtedly much better quality than the ones a couple of dollars would fetch you from over the pond.

Opting for The Big Pole (I'm also a sucker for amusing innuendos), we didn't wait long before 8 inches of the pork and beef dog was handed over ready to be slathered in a frenzy of ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut and onions. Whilst the meat itself was seasoned well, the white roll that encased it let it down; a brioche or glazed roll may have been a more appropriate choice! That aside, £6 is worth it for the quality of the meat and variety of free toppings alone.

Whilst KERB Food have hung up their aprons for the year at their usual trading posts in Embankment, you can still find them at the Gherkin, Spitalfields, UCLU and King's Cross during various times of the week/month.

southbank love exhibition giant chess board

With our stomachs full and content, we headed across to The North Bank for The Thames SENSEsation exhibit for a historical multi-sensory experience through the eras - to see a visual recap of it, I uploaded a Weekends in London video of the trip on my YouTube Channel! We came across a spread of medieval board games hosted at Victoria Embankment Gardens and fled over with vows to claim the crown with the giant chess. 30 minutes of heated competitive strategies later, a winner was reluctantly announced...

Spoiler: I lost (and I'm still convinced that Jordan was making up the rules as he went on, pfftt ;))

giant chess board giant chess board victoria embankment gardens

Whilst the exhibit has since ended, it's started an itch to reach for board games and puzzles to spend an afternoon or quiet evening instead of endlessly scrolling through Instagram and Twitter. With Christmas around the corner (ONE MONTH AND EIGHTEEN DAYS), I'll be piling up a collection of some well-loved classics to challenge unsuspecting friends and family members over umpteen glasses of mulled wine... I can't wait.

Have you been to KERB Food before? What's your favourite board game?