Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Eastside Dining Experience - The Flat Iron Grill in Issaquah

We here in Redmond are always looking for new places to dine and we're willing to drive a little ways to do it. A pleasant drive along Lake Sammamish - east or west side - will bring you to Issaquah and a new restaurant called The Flat Iron Grill.

Located in quaint Gilman Village it is the site of the former Iris Grill. My one visit to the Iris Grill left me with a few real obvious impressions - mediocre and overpriced cuisine, shaky service & LOUD. The reason it was noisy wasn't because it was crowded but because the space is large with cathedral ceilings and nothing to absorb sound. The Iris Grill tried to cover it up with piped in music but it actually made it worse.

The Flat Iron Grill has done quite a bit to remedy that situation by using multiple sound absorbers in the form of curtains, carpet and actual sound absorbing boards hung on the ceiling. The restaurant will still not make your quietest dining experience list but it is vastly improved. My dining partner and I never had any difficulty having a conversation or talking to our waitress.

The improvements help not only with the sound but also with the general ambiance by making the area feel warm and inviting. They have done the walls in warm brick colors and decorated with a lot of iron memorabilia and knickknacks. The overall impression is comfortable and pleasant.

Our reservations were for 730P on a Friday night and our table was ready when we arrived despite the fact that it was a quite busy. The service was pretty good overall, our waitress approached our table immediately to say she would be with us very soon, she had just begun to cross the line to "too long" and I had actually just opened my mouth to say something about it to my partner when she came back. The rest of the evening she was flawless.

They have an interesting wine list with some labels we were not familiar with. We tried the Haystack Needle Tempranillo '07 from Washington at 8.50 a glass and were moderately happy with it. As an appetizer I couldn't wait to try the Figlets - figs stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in nueske's smoked bacon - and they were very tasty. I could have used a skosh more sauce for rolling them in though.

Other appetizers included House made Mozzarella, Grilled Oysters and Salsify Flan plus a number of others. You could easily do a series of tapas for a meal at the Flat Iron Grill. Prices on the starters range from $8 to $16 a plate.

For our entree my partner chose the Jambalaya with chicken, chorizo and a selection of shellfish at $24 while I went with the Muscovy Duck served with sweet potato gnudi, roasted fennel, and arugula and blood orange marmalade butter sauce for $25. The Jambalaya, although it looked fairly unremarkable on the plate, was given two thumbs up by my companion and my taste was pretty good. The duck looked marvelous on the plate and was perfectly cooked but the topping was too salty. It might have been saved with a counter of the sweet marmalade but there was too little of it on the plate to make a difference. In fact, if I might just say, there were more words in the description of the sauce than there was actual sauce on the plate.

Overall though I give this new restaurant 3 stars out of 5 and I will definitely go there again soon even if it is just to eat some more of those Figlets. It is not inexpensive and you can expect to pay over a $100 for dinner for two with wine. There is also outdoor seating for those few warm nights on the Eastside in the summer. Go and enjoy.

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