Discover commitment to fresh ingredients at The Flat Iron Grill

August 16, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Gilman Village slips in and out of style in much the same manner as fashion.

Just as leggings and off-the-shoulder tops re-emerged from some Reagan-era style sepulcher in recent seasons, a similar cycle is redirecting attention to Gilman Village. The landmark shopping center is in — and in the midst of a renaissance, as a Thursday farmers market and upstart businesses prompt neophytes to discover a classic Issaquah locale.

The credit for the latest revival is due, in part at least, to The Flat Iron Grill, a destination restaurant and a solid reason to explore beyond the periphery at Gilman Village.

The restaurant opened in the former Iris Grill space 18 months ago and, soon after, started to generate complimentary chatter among the local fooderati.

The acclaim is deserved.

The Flat Iron Grill is upscale enough to qualify as a special-occasion restaurant — ambitious but not pretentious — and a sophisticated addition to a restaurant scene saturated in too many fast-casual counters and underperforming sports bars.

If you go

The Flat Iron Grill

  • In Gilman Village
  • 317 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 28
  • 657-0373
  • Lunch: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday
  • Dinner: 4-10 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 4-9 p.m. Sunday
  • Brunch: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
  • Happy hour: 2-6 p.m. Monday to Sunday, and 9 p.m. to close
  • $8 to $16 for lunch items, $8 to $14 for appetizers, $22 to $65 for dinner entrées
Restaurant reviews are a regular feature of The Issaquah Press. Reviewers visit restaurants unannounced and pay in full for their meals.

The attention lavished on edible details and fresh ingredients is laudable. Produce comes from Hand-Farmed Organics, a community-supported farm in Fall City. Plates land at the table done up for magazine-quality presentation, as if a food stylist touched up each meal en route from the kitchen.

The menu includes international accents, especially as Chef Cody Reaves points a compass in the direction of South America.

No A.1. bottles dot the tables at The Flat Iron Grill. Instead, chimichurri — a potent sauce created in Argentina and exported elsewhere — is the chosen condiment for steaks.

Quinoa, a so-called superfood older than the Incas, anchors a salad layering the seeds and other muscular ingredients — arugula, feta and poblano — beneath a dash of currants and sprightly vinaigrette.

The lunch menu emphasizes salads and sandwiches — convenient and urbane fare for a professional crowd.

The signature steak is presented atop a salad or inside a soft roll from Macrina Bakery come lunchtime.

The salad stacks Bibb lettuce, candied pecans and blue cheese from the respected Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. in the Golden State. Meanwhile, a raspberry-peppercorn vinaigrette cuts through the rich unctuousness of the meat and cheese.

Inside the sandwich, the meat, arugula and tomatoes meld beneath rosemary mayonnaise. Pair the sandwich and mixed greens on the side for a taste of both menu standouts.

The fried sage and roasted garlic mingling alongside the french fries offer a pleasant, aromatic assist to the potatoes, although the fries could benefit from a crispier exterior.

Lunchtime also incorporates a Pacific Northwest interpretation of a classic Cuban sandwich, Cuba by way of the Columbia River. Inside the pressed Macrina Bakery roll, a stratum of bacon from Wisconsin smokehouse Nueske’s, roasted pork, Swiss cheese and housemade pickles fuse.

The challah roll from the Seattle bakery is superb, but perhaps not the most ideal foundation for most of the sandwiches on the compact lunch menu.

The toothsome portabella sandwich — on brioche — adds arugula, goat cheese, grilled onions and quince-jalapeno jam to impart oomph on the mild mushroom.

In a classic chicken salad sandwich, currants and walnuts perform supporting roles, although a little less mayonnaise is necessary to enable the other ingredients to pop.

The happy hour menu occupies a different league than the Sysco chicken fingers and french fries on too many beer-battered bar menus to count. Cheeses from Mt. Townsend Creamery in Jefferson County, a grilled watermelon salad and a lamb empanada stand out.

Steak, as the name on the sign implies, is the star at dinner. Reaves utilizes the grill to enliven chicken and fish, too.

The Flat Iron Grill earns plaudits for serving beef raised sans antibiotics and hormones. The comprehensive wine list assembled features numerous Northwest vintages alongside bottles from California and other grape-growing regions around the globe.

The bar offers a “whiskey library” to complement the wine list. Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Johnnie Walker cavort alongside less familiar — and more tantalizing — labels.

The handsome space attracts a bustling crowd from lunchtime until late night. Inside, patrons sip and snack amid flickering votive candles, metal-topped tables and mustard-hued draperies. In a lighthearted nod to the name, a display of antique irons is arranged in the entryway.

From the aesthetic to the menu, The Flat Iron Grill is designed to endure — a classic sure to remain in fashion for the foreseeable future.

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