Flat Iron Steak & Saloon Opens in Old Town
Executive Chef Mike Cordero, of Malibu Grill, Caribbean Breeze, Bronx Pizza and A-Town Bar and Grill, along with partners Scott Parker and Jonathan Rennich opened Flat Iron Steak & Saloon July 26 at 808 King St. in Old Town Alexandria. It’s in the location of Cordero’s shuttered Agua Viva Latin-inspired restaurant.
Designed by Restaurant Impossible and That’s So 80s star Yvette Irene, the bright blue paint of Agua Viva has been replaced with a neutral, relaxed color scheme and buck heads attached the the wall. The eatery boasts the swank feel of a mid-20th century Chicago pub and the menu focuses on locally sourced cuts of class-A meats prepared over flat iron with various rubs to heighten flavor and texture.
On two floors, each level seats about 80 people with the saloon on top and the dining room below. The lower level has dinning tables with sleek, thin chairs, light hardwood floors and a long leather bench underneath three chandeliers. Upstairs is more of a sports bar with a mixture of tables, a VIP area and a long bar in the center.
“We noticed Old Town doesn’t have a lot of sports bars,” Cordero said. “its mostly pubs with a couple TVs.” A Redskins fan, Cordero is hoping that along with the A-Town (which is now officially a Virginia Tech bar) football crowd, Flat Iron can be another spot for sports fans to flock on the weekends.
The menu features seven types of steak (bistro, flat iron, skirt, filet mignon, ribeye, T-bone and New York strip) that come with either a butter-chipolte sauce, a Mediterrean sauce or a chimichurri sauce and served are with au gratin spinach and mashed potatoes. The steaks are wet-aged, Angus certified cuts, packaged in D.C. The beef is grass-fed, from small, family-owned farms in Maryland, West Virginia and Echo Ridge Farm in Atkins, Va.
Other meats include pork and lamb chops and prime rib. Other menu items include a black sesame seed crusted Ahi tuna, jambalaya, roasted half chicken, crab cakes and seared scallop risotto. Starters include parmaigiana tots with mashed potatoes, Applewood bacon and Italian cheeses, mini crab cakes, crab and spinach dip, roasted chicken eggrolls, sliders and calamari. They also have French onion soup and wedge, Ceasar and California chopped salads. Side dishes include hand-cut and sweet potato fries, onion rings, broccoli and potato au gratin, fresh asparagus and mac and cheese.
During a preview a few days before the opening, my favorites were not the steaks but the lobster bisque with fresh lobster meat, cream and sherry, the mini crab cakes served with papaya mango chutney and the rockstar shrimp with roasted garlic and red chili sauce. The filet mignon sliders with sauted onions, cheddar jack cheese and horseradish mayo were tasty but dry and tough. The flat iron steak with mediterranean BBQ sauce was also just OK, but again prepared en mass and not made to order. (Restaurants need to learn it is better to let dinners choose a few dishes to sample rather than try to pass small bites of a large number of dishes prepared in advance.)
The lunch menu includes flatbread pizza, soft or hard tacos, sandwiches such as a lobster roll, beer-battered grouper, Cuban/Italian, grilled chipolte steak maximus with rib eye steak, grilled onions, cheese sauce and their chimicurri sauce, prime dip and a Kobe beef burger.
And you can’t have a saloon without drinks and Flat Iron has some tasty signature cocktails. The Tavern Lemonade is made with Jack Daniels Whiskey, fresh sweet and sour and peaches. The Potomac is made with Stoli Citrus vodka, peach schnapps, simple syrup, blueberries and cranberry juice. My favorite was the King Street Cooler made with Grey Goose pear vodka, St. Germaine, simple syrup, ruby red grapefruit and lemon. It was super refreshing and tasty.
Flat Iron Steak & Saloon is open from 10:30 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday-Thursday and until 2 a.m. Friday-Sunday.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.