Finsbay Flat Iron


THE snow has chased us all the way along the the M80 and as we roll into the city the game is over. Glasgow’s surrounded. It’s falling heavily. We’re tired.

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Sliding into a corner table I’m already Googling flatiron steak (US) and reading out: AKA Butler’s steak (UK), oyster blade steak (Aus). Shoulder, chuck, apparently there’s a grisly fascia membrane that makes it tough unless removed. Uh-oh, but what can you expect for eight quid?

Still, there’s something gloriously liberating about a restaurant – even a pop-up – that offers zero choice. It’s flatiron steaks. Or nothing.

I think the owners took that same liberating approach with the decor. It’s low-wattage lights and pub tables and chairs – and that’s your lot. I’d like to say this is post-industrial wasteland cool. But it’s not. It’s just budget.

At least the large plate glass windows let in some of that atmospherically sickly yellow streetlight glow from Woodlands Road.

Most everything is heading the other way. Customers, obviously sniffing the air and sensing snowmageddon is coming.

Heat, probably through those huge widows. Atmosphere, likewise.

There’s a flurry of excitement when a table of 10 suddenly turns up, a booking made by an honourable person no doubt, but the large dingy spaces in here swiftly suck the colour out of even that.

Back at our table then. Seona has joined us, Luca has made it clear he’s only interested in the mac ’n’ cheese and Cal has ordered his steak rare. Or has he? I lose track of who wants what in the blizzard of side dishes we pick (okay, I pick – the kids couldn’t care less) and predictably the waitress loses track too.

The Cokes, bottled, please, will turn out to be all post-mix while the extra portion of skinny fries I ordered, I may not have ordered at all.

According to No 1 son anyway.

Extra skinny fries? Always order the frozen chips nowadays, says I. It usually avoids the chef embarrassing himself.

Flatiron Finbay here, of course, has its own version of Heston Blumenthal’s triple cooked chips – except they’re double cooked – or double dipped.

No disrespect to Flatiron but when I see these on any menu nowadays – and they are on every menu nowadays – I immediately order a portion of skinny or frozen too. This is because it doesn’t matter how many times you fry the chips if you:

a) make them from crap, cheap watery potatoes.

b) don’t bother changing the fryer oil regularly.

c) cook them and then leave them sitting until they are baggy and brown and watery.

d) couldn’t care less.

I don’t think I’m giving anything away now by exclusively revealing that at the end of the meal the dishes containing the salted skinnies will be completely empty while the two bowls of double-dipped, soggy, brown, watery things will leave largely untouched.

But hold hard. If, like me, you think it’s all going to be like this – relax. It’s not.

Rewind a little bit to the steaks arriving. Chunky things, cross-cut attractively, seared properly and peered at suspiciously in the gloom by me.

A slice is tasted. Uh? It’s not tough at all. It’s full of flavour. The texture’s good. These are actually excellent. At £8, too. There’s a little bit of rocket salad on the side of each steak and a much larger bowl of rocket with parmesan and dressing as a side dish.

Okay, the mac ’n’ cheese with pancetta is a tad watery but it’s by no means bad, while the coleslaw with red cabbage is sweet and salty and very good.

I ordered just one sauce of Chipotle Funk at £1 for all four of us – it’s easily more than enough.

If we were to come back, and miserable decor aside, we agree we probably would come back if the snow ever melts, then steak and salad for a tenner, and some £3 skinny fries is all that will be needed.

Finsbay Flat Iron

160 Woodlands Road


0141 332 3399

Menu: Flatiron steaks, cooked fast, served cheap – you can see why they use the US name and not our own. Butler steaks would never catch on. These might. 4/5

Atmosphere: Virtually zero. Looks like a characterless pub and feels like one too, probably because it’s a pop-up and may pop down again. 2/5

Service: Friendly, reasonably fast, post-modern relaxed style. There were a couple of ordering glitches but they were probably mine. 4/5

Price: Our steaks were £8 with a smattering of rocket salad. It’s a tenner with a separate salad. Chips £3. Worth it. 5/5

Food: It turns out flatiron steaks, done properly, are good, and cheap. Double dipped chips rubbish. The rest fine. 8/10