Flat Iron steak restaurant group finally lands in Manchester

Picture of Flat Iron banquet of steak and side dishes.

“I am humbled by coming to Manchester because I’ve really learned what an amazing food scene there is here and, I have met some other fantastic operators in the city as well. I just want to say, I’m a bit nervous. I really want to make sure we get this absolutely right…I think we will.” Flat Iron head of beef Fred Smith on the new Manchester launch.

LONDON-born Flat Iron restaurant group is set to launch its first restaurant in Manchester’s Deansgate this week. (Wednesday 3 July).

Located in the heart of the city centre, the two-floor restaurant is housed in a Grade II Listed building at 200 Deansgate, previously occupied by Blacks outdoor suppliers.

The building was designed by Charles Heathcote. It first opened to the public in 1908 as the office of the Royal London Friendly Society.

Picture of the outside of Flat Iron, Deans Gate, Manchester, with coming soon sign
Picture: Flat Iron Manchester.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Flat Iron’s head of beef Fred Smith. “But it’s been worth it. We have battled Covid, issues around the grade II listed building, leaking pipes etc. The building is beautiful, and we can’t wait to open the doors.”

The 150-cover restaurant is spread over two floors. It’s a delightful space with wooden floors, huge windows and orange leather banquettes that compliment the original ceramic tiles and huge iron pillars.

Picture of Flat Iron Manchester interior

The ground floor restaurant is its beating heart, housing a marble-topped bar with a stained-glass window. The basement dining room is perfect for a cosy and moody dining experience.

Bringing their single-minded commitment to serving remarkable steak, starting at an affordable £14 to the heart of Manchester, the restaurant’s carefully considered streamlined menu is led by the signature ‘Flat Iron’ steak, taken from the often overlooked featherblade, an affordable cut of meat known for its flavour, tenderness and juiciness, when seam butchered with skill and care.

The Manchester restaurant is the only restaurant in the chain to have its own meat cured in a special handcrafted meat ageing. Another first, is the presence of a bespoke charcoal grill that will be used for all the beef specials.

“It’s really exciting to be able to finally bring Flat Iron to Manchester, where our founder, Charlie Carroll is originally from,” said Smith.

“The location in Manchester is an absolute beautiful building, being Grade II listed, there’s not many of those around.

“It’s really important for us to keep having beautiful restaurants for people to dine in.”

Diners will be delighted with the little touches including being provided with a tiny meat cleaver to cut through their succulent steak. The steaks will be served alongside sides such as beef dripping chips, crispy bone marrow mash, creamed spinach, truffled macaroni cheese and green salads.

To keep with the simplified menu, diners are greeted with a cup of fresh popcorn and flavoured water. There are no starters and only ice cream for dessert.

A rotating board of specials will be available at the Manchester restaurant, including a Wagyu steak of the day, and a 375g Scottish ribeye, exclusive to Manchester.

A curated selection of wines will make up the drinks list, including Flat Iron’s very own Malbec, specially blended by the Flat Iron team using grapes grown in the Limoux area of the Languedoc in southern France. Alongside the wine list will sit a selection of draft beers and Flat Iron’s signature cocktails, including the new Tony’s Margarita and Sherbert Bellini.

Where did Flat Iron begin?

Flat Iron was born as a pop-up above a pub in East London in 2012, the brainchild of Charlie Carroll. His concept was simple: to provide high quality steak to everyone at an affordable price.

Flat Iron now has 16 restaurants. In 2023 they opened their first restaurants out of London in Cambridge and Leeds.

The restaurant group recorded record sales in January. in its accounts to 27 August 2023, the group saw sales rise to £35.9m up £12.4m (52.9%) on the previous year.

A significant proportion of the growth is attributed to existing restaurants and ‘strong trading’ in the three 2023 openings in London (Westfield, Kensington), Cambridge and Leeds.

Meet the rare cows…

Ahead of the opening, Eatnorth was invited to Thirsk, Yorkshire, to meet third-generation farmer, Charles Ashbridge of Taste Tradition, who oversees rearing Flat Iron’s own heard of Wagyu before tasting the menu at Flat Iron in Leeds.

“Charlie Carroll came to see me in 2012 to see if we could supply him for Flat Iron,” said Ashbridge.

“But what he was asking for wasn’t a cut that you see very often, probably because of the way abattoirs work it wasn’t a cut that really had developed. As a third-generation farmer I like meat to be fatty with great marbling. That is seen as a bit wacky as historically people want lean meat with higher yields.

Picture of Flat Iron head of beef Fred Smith with farmer Charles Ashbridge.
Flat Iron head of beef Fred Smith with farmer Charles Ashbridge.

Smith added: “Yeah, I remember when we came up and we showed you what we were thinking about doing. It was James, your partner, who looked at us like we were totally mad.”

In 2012, Ashbridge began supplying Flat Iron with a range of beef from Dexters, Longhorns and Galloways.

It was not until 2016 that Carroll asked to for them to establish his own herd to produce consistent flavoursome meat.

“It’s quite unique that any restaurant would want to give you tens of thousands of pounds to produce the best meat we could. I took on the challenge,” said Asbridge.

Carroll insisted on Wagyu and a herd of cattle was identified that the farmer was going to breed ‘pure.’

“It was better to breed them pure rather than start out with a pure breed which are expensive and there are not that many of them. Why not be selective to start. The next generation will be slightly purer,” said Asbridge.

Asbridge said the cattle are usually ready to be turned into beef at around 30 months. “But we would never slaughter at 30 months if we didn’t feel it was right.”

The cows in the picture are 25 months. They have the first grazing season with their mother and are weaned off in November. They have just been through their ‘store winter’ period where they are fed but not pushed to grow too quickly.

Flat Iron Wagyu cattle, 25 months old.
Flat Iron Wagyu cattle, 25 months old.

“They are a bit like teenagers really, hanging out together and getting up to mischief. If the cows are fed too much feed, they get too fat. That fat is external and what we are trying to do is build internal, intermuscular fat for the marbling.

“We want to create a frame on the animal and that needs them to grow naturally.

“When people talk about grass fed beef, we do grass fed beef but, what we don’t do is grass finish because we want consistency, and the grass isn’t good all year round.”

Asbridge said it takes them eight months to finish them “because you can’t rush this process. Lots of commercial farmer would have finished two to three and a half months ago.”

The herd were inquisitive and less sulky than teenagers and were clearly looked after with glossy coats and chewing the cud.

Picture of happy Wagyu cows.

There is a real science to rearing the herd of Wagyu for Flat Iron cited the farmer. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money but that’s recognised in the quality of cuts produced and the consistency the restaurant can offer.

 “As farmers we get a bad reputation. We are passionate about our livestock. We want to look after them to best of our ability.”

Seeing the cows in their breeding field was a treat. We met Curly and friends, the cute Wagyu calves and the massive bull keeping his girls in check.

Picture of Wagyu bull

Flat Iron Leeds…

Steak is for the wealthy is the feeling, a special treat and an exclusivity that may break the bank just a touch.

The heightened cost of living has exasperated that. Charlie Carroll’s concept to bring steak to the masses but with quality and fanfare did not disappoint.

On arrival, we were greeted with a pot of beef fat salted popcorn and refreshing flavoured water.

The menu was easy to choose from. We were treated to a selection of the menu’s finest including cuts like bavette and T-Bone, Flat Iron’s signature featherblade, Wagyu burgers, beef dripping chips creamed mash spinach, truffled macaroni cheese and crispy bone marrow garlic mash.

To finish, we were given a token for soft serve ice cream made with salted French butter.

On Fred’s recommendation I went for the classic Flat Iron steak, priced modestly at £14. The cut was delicious, a succulent treat only made more mouthwatering with lashings of peppercorn sauce. Served medium-rare and seasoned to perfection, each slice was heavenly.

Steak aficionados can also choose from  Scottish bavette steak to sirloin and marbled Wagyu.

We filled the table out with some sides, ordering beef dripping chips (£4), crispy bone marrow garlic mash (£4) and truffled macaroni cheese (£5.50). Each was a superb accompaniment, but the mash was just out of this world.

A combination of potatoes, chives, bone marrow, garlic butter and crispy batter combine to make the creamiest mash of pure indulgence.

Service was impeccable and it is Flat Iron’s quirks that make the experience so memorable.

If Leeds is this good, then Manchester with its additional quirks, is sure to be a showstopper too.

Flat Iron
200 Deansgate
Manchester
M3 3NN

Flat Iron
9A Lands Lane
Leeds
LS1 6AW

SUN-TUES        12:00-22:00
WED-THURS     12:00-22:30
FRI-SAT           12:00-23:00

www.flatironsteak.co.uk
@flatironsteak

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