Category Archives: Flatiron Steak

Flatiron Steak (Oola, SF)

Flatiron Steak

Flatiron Steak at Oola, SF
Flatiron Steak at Oola, SF

A flatiron steak is usually compared to skirt or flank steak, but it’s actually a better cut that tends to be much more tender than either. When it’s properly done, it can be great. It’s a cut with nice marbling from the beef shoulder (chuck), and sometimes called “top blade,” a reference to its blade-like shape. The shape resembles a flatiron.  (For more about this cut, visit Certified Angus Beef and click on the “chuck” portion of the diagram halfway down the screen.) 

At $28, Oola’s flatiron steak is priced on par with more expensive steak cuts, but it is definitely the best flatiron steak I’ve eaten in 2009. Baring its flesh like a fashionable summer sunburn, the grilled slices skate up from a pond of peppercorn gravy: simply sumptuous morsels. The peppercorn sauce is wonderful, both rich and surprisingly light. The potato gratin is also great, and well-balanced with cheese that’s mild and doesn’t show up the beef. Again, Chef Ola Fendert takes something that is often traditionally heavy and lightens it without sacrificing any flavor. Some grilled asparagus spears add a jolt of crunch and color. 

The waitress kindly shared that Oola’s medium rare is a bit more rare than usual, which I’ve found to be how French and French-trained chefs interpret medium rare. I recommend the flatiron medium rare (as shown).

The Grade: Excellent

The Damage: $28

The Inside Tip: 

Don’t order a flatiron steak past medium or you will lose the juicy flavors; go for rare to medium-rare.

The Skinny: Oola Restaurant & Bar

860 Folsom Street (between 4th St & 5th St)
San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: (415) 995-2061

Make reservations at Oola directly via

Steak Frites – Flatiron Steak

Chez Maman, San Francisco

Flat-iron Steak Frites

A friend was enthused to take me to get steak frites at Chez Maman, the legendary Potrero Hill grill and one of San Francisco’s tiniest restaurants. Because capacity is maybe 14 or so people, there’s always a wait and the warm kitchen sizzles heighten the anticipation. Supposedly, many people warrant Chez Maman to have the best steak frites in town. For me, that’s a tall ladder to climb as there are many other French and Belgian restaurants (and other restaurants) who dole out a mean steak frites. So I went with low expectations, a good policy when approaching anything with its own hype parade.

Flatiron Steak Frites, Chez Maman SF
Flatiron Steak Frites, Chez Maman SF

The meat for Chez Maman is the flatiron steak, which is a lower-end cut of beef that’s great for searing and serving up simply with fries or a simple veggie side. It’s perfectly seared with “X” or 45-degree angle sear markings and comes out on the plate beautifully juicy. The French fries are excellent, and the green peppercorn sauce is marvelous. My flatiron steak was rare–I don’t like overcooked beef–and it was savory, juicy and satisfying. Not surprisingly, though, it didn’t live up to the ‘best ever’ level of mythology that preceded it like a Roman Emperor’s red cape and dragoon squad. Despite that, it’s a very good steak, not a bad deal at $19 (for this city), and Chez Maman is a really fun experience. Just be prepared to wait for it. 

The Vibe: Chez Maman

Chez Maman has a small grill and, appropriately, use old flatirons to sear the beef, about 3 feet away from you if you get the right seat at the long, narrow counter. Good exhibition, good olfactory and aural teasing, a cool little gem of a place, and a good place to get in from the cold if you like to be near kitchen heat. For San Francisco, it works.

Detail, Chez Maman Flatiron Steak Frites
Detail, Chez Maman Flatiron Steak Frites

The Grade: Very Good

The Damage: $19

The Skinny: Chez Maman

Chez Maman on Urbanspoon