The interior of Flat IronDaniel Hilton with permission for Varsity

It seems as though every time I come back to Cambridge some new restaurant chain pops up, and each time the same thing happens to me. I always mistake these brands for independent eateries and get embarrassed in front of my London friends.

This time was particularly embarrassing as I spoke to one of my privately educated pals (probably from somewhere called St Tiddle’s School for Talented Toffs) raving about how excited I was to go to this steakhouse. But once I mentioned that this “steakhouse” was Flat Iron, he erupted into a chorus of “rah hah”s, laughing at how uncivilised I was not knowing what Flat Iron was. So, in an attempt to civilise myself, I embarked on a trip to see what it was all about.

The atmosphere at Flat Iron was interesting, it’s somewhere between a botanical garden and a cut-and-paste ‘trendy’ café. Though the dim lighting can strain your eyes, the ambience created isn’t too bad (and indeed the lack of great light could mean it’s the perfect place to go on your RAG Blind Date in February if you’ve had the misfortune of being paired with a Phys NatSci).

What is less great though is the view from the window as the restaurant is opposite TK Maxx, Caffe Nero, and Taco Bell - fine in the daytime, but by night all the bins are out on the street and the offensive blue of Deliveroo plagues your eyes as Taco Bell orders are picked up.

“I was made to feel like a 9-year-old recreating their first holy communion with a bottle of cooking wine from the top shelf”

I was then seated at my table and ordered a drink. I opted for their house Malbec (£8) which was surprisingly fabulous and probably one of the best wines I’ve had at that price point. What was not fabulous though was how my wine was served. Call me old-fashioned, but if I’m paying eight pounds for a glass of wine the least I expect is for it to be served in the proper glass and not a tumbler. When I’m out drinking wine I want to exude a sense of classiness that I don’t usually possess. Instead, I was made to feel like a 9-year-old recreating their first holy communion with a bottle of cooking wine from the top shelf.

For the main meal, I opted for the signature Flat Iron steak (£13) with their bone marrow garlic mash (£4) and the Peppercorn sauce (£1). While waiting for the meal I was offered complimentary popcorn and citrus water. The water was nothing special, it’s just water after all, but I did appreciate the free popcorn to gnaw on while I waited.

After a relatively short time the steak arrived. Despite having a Chinese Cook’s knife plastered all over their advertising (and laying one beside your fork) I was surprised to see that the steak came pre-cut and was really rather small. If the wine in the tumbler was already making me feel like a child then the pre-cut steak was not helping.

“I came out hungry, confused, and slightly depressed knowing that a sizable portion of my student loan was just spaffed up the wall”

In all honesty, I’m not sure what I was expecting from a £13 steak, but the tiny morsel that lay in front of me was not it. To be fair, the steak was actually quite nice, it was very juicy and had a nice level of crispiness, but I guarantee that anyone could make a better one in their gyp. As for the mash, the portion size was small too, but it more than made up for it with the flavour - I can safely say that it was hands-down the best mash I have ever had. Each forkful was an eruption of flavour in my mouth, the smoothness of the mash was perfectly supplemented by the oiliness of the bone marrow and the garlic was the perfect topper.

Flat Iron mistakes itself for a tapas restaurant. There’s no way that you can feel full after one steak, even with the sides. In fact, this approach was taken by the people next to me who all ordered a steak-and-a-half each and shared it. Finishing the meal, the waiter came and asked how the meal was and, being British, I replied by saying “oh it was absolutely perfect, thanks” while my stomach rumbled in protest.


Mountain View

For god’s saké, don’t miss out on Kibou!

As he brought out the bill, he also brought two little knife charms that could be cashed in for a free ice cream, a cute gesture. Maybe after a societal collapse or nuclear apocalypse these charms will hold unimaginable value and will be used to barter for fresh water and other trinkets. But for now I’d use it to get my ice cream, which was standard soft serve topped with chocolate dust. It was fine. My trip to Flat Iron was a disappointment. I had gone in to see what the seemingly highly-rated restaurant was all about and came out hungry, confused, and slightly depressed knowing that a sizable portion of my student loan was just spaffed up the wall. My advice: avoid this place like the plague. If you want a good steak then go to the Cambridge Chop House or the Millworks, though more expensive, the extra tenner you’ll use will be well worth it.