Flat Iron is more than just a steak restaurant. It’s a very specific type of steak restaurant, serving one very specific type of steak prepared and served in a very specific way. In London, it’s quite unique in offering a mouthwatering ‘flat iron’ steak (a tasty yet inexpensive cut of meat also known as ‘feather blade’) at a single, affordable price – £10. And that’s probably why every Londoner seems to agree Flat Iron restaurants are the bee’s knees, and why it’s so tricky to get a table there.

Every detail of the Flat Iron experience has been meticulously thought out, and presented with care and creativity. From the simplicity of its no-nonsense menu to the mini meat cleavers where you might expect a steak knife, bowls of free popcorn on arrival and ubiquitous blue-and-white Falcon enamel pie dishes overflowing with old-fashioned chips lovingly browned in beef dripping.

Flat Iron’s been going for a few years now, and it seems news of its success has travelled as far north as Manchester – where a familiar-looking eatery (with no affiliation to Flat Iron) has opened for business. Featherblade, as it’s known, is a shoddy facsimile of the Flat Iron format (they’ve ripped off every last detail), suggesting its owners insultingly presumed all Mancunains to be untravelled troglodytes with no knowledge of goings-on south of Stockport. And they forgot social media…

featherblade-flat-iron-copy-menu

That’s right, Carly. It has.

Now I haven’t been to Featherblade myself (though lukewarm reviews suggest it’s really no match for Flat Iron), and I’m not particularly concerned with what they’re selling – steak and chips isn’t exactly a new invention. What bothers me is that anyone thinks it’s OK to steal somebody else’s entire business vision and attempt to pass it off as their own to make a lazy few quid. It’s no different from selling fake trainers with ‘Just Do It’ and a swoosh on the side, and branding them ‘Mike’.

Featherblade’s menu, branding, pricing and table setting – its entire aesthetic, even the mini meat cleavers and popcorn appetiser – are all near enough identical to the genuine Flat Iron. The man responsible for it all, Lee Brennan, has told local reporters it’s an “unfortunate coincidence” and denies deliberately ripping off Flat Iron’s concept. His words remind me of a classroom cheat from my school who would gloat at getting full marks after copying all the answers from a brainier kid he sat himself next to. It wasn’t big or clever back then, and in the real world of business it’s embarrassing.

Obviously, I feel sad for the creators of Flat Iron, and I’d love to know what they think of this brazen plagiarism. Unfortunately, for now, the owners are keeping shtum (probably while they seek legal advice). But I also feel sorry for Lee Brennan. I bet he dreams of being an entrepreneur, but instead of innovating and pursuing new ideas he shortsightedly follows his greed to cash in on other people’s creations and leeches off their success. And anyone with a bit of money can do that.

Still, with all the free publicity – including national press coverage courtesy of The Mirror – the tills at Featherblade will be ringing for a while. So maybe life’s cheats really do have the last laugh. Maybe.

Hard to believe, but it’s already been a month since I returned home from my honeymoon in Japan. I do still intend to write a few blog posts about my experiences of Japanese culture and my favourite bits of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto (the three main cities we visited).

But before I get to that, here’s a video I made – using a GoPro camera we carried around everywhere we went – which I think just about sums up most of the highlights from our trip.

Honeymoon in Japan from Anthony Hill on Vimeo.

We’d been out with some friends in Walthamstow (at an awesome bar in a converted cinema called Mirth, Marvel and Maud), and it was late so we decided we weren’t going to cook. We looked across the road from Surrey Quays station and saw the inviting glow of The Yellow House.

The Yellow House 'Italian Sausage' pizza

We hadn’t been inside before, but have walked past it almost daily since moving to the area five months ago. It’s hard to say whether it’s a bar that serves food or a restaurant with a bar, but I probably needn’t dwell on the semantics – The Yellow House is a perfect mix of the two.

The house speciality is its pizza, cooked until crispy at the edges in a traditional wood-fired oven. We were spoilt for choice, but eventually settled on the Italian sausage variety (pictured above), and it didn’t disappoint. Also worthy of a mention is the intensely garlicky garlic bread with mozzarella (below), which I’m pretty sure I can still taste 20 hours later.

Right next to our table was a roaring log fire, which was definitely a welcome sight when we first came in from the cold (though it did make it all the more difficult to leave).

The Yellow House garlic bread with mozzarella

It’s been five months since we relocated from Bethnal Green to Surrey Quays, and now we’re married (so all the wedding planning is done) we can finally spend the weekends exploring our new area and finding nice things to do. We started on Saturday with a breakfast at Canada Water Cafe.

Canada Water Cafe full English breakfast

At £9.50 for the full English breakfast (pictured above), it isn’t the cheapest place to kickstart your weekend eating, but it’s certainly a tasty way to treat yourself. I especially enjoyed the smokey streaky bacon and the fresh cherry tomatoes were a nice touch.

I washed everything down with their seriously strong coffee (below) and the only slight negative was my request for no mushrooms was ignored. Also, my wife’s bacon and avocado sandwich was initially lacking its bacon (although the waiter quickly put this right once we complained).

All in all, I think it’s safe to say we’ll go back.

Canada Water Cafe black coffee

pokemon-go

If you’re a person, and live somewhere on Earth, I can safely assume you’ve heard of Pokémon Go. It has 75 million players, more daily users than Twitter, and it’s coaxed a generation raised on video games out of their bedrooms to stomp around outdoors (albeit playing a video game) for fun.

But not everyone chooses to recognise Pokémon Go’s unquestionable social benefits. The internet’s teeming with people who “couldn’t care less” about Pokémon Go, but incidentally, those same people do care enough to use time and effort publicly declaring how little they care about it…

Now I’m not criticising people who’ve genuinely no interest in Pokémon Go (and I don’t know why I bothered saying that, as they obviously won’t be reading – if they did, they’d only prove my point). My beef’s with the self-righteous ones, scoffing and passing judgment instead of just letting other people enjoy it. I could liken them to militant vegans, but I won’t (or maybe I just did). I’ve digressed.

What I feel for those haters, who insist Pokémon Go’s a pile of shit despite never trying it, is pity. I refuse to meet their hatred with more hate, so instead what I’ll say is I feel sorry for them.

You see, they’ve already made their minds up about everything. They’re “too adult” for Pokémon, so won’t be embracing it, nor anything else they don’t immediately understand, but continue to mock anyone who does – out of bitterness – while dismissing it as a new-fangled fad that won’t last. It’s what some older people in the 1990s would’ve said about mobile phones and the internet.

These are the old people who out of stubbornness have still yet to receive an email, or use Facebook to trace distant relatives. Now almost entirely disconnected from the modern world, they’re fumbling in the dark of a self-prescribed bunker of ignorance – alone but for a few likeminded luddites.

I’m not sadistic enough to wish anyone that fate, so I pity them. I’m at level 20 by the way.

 

In the four years or so we’ve been living in Bethnal Green, we must’ve visited The Larder at least a dozen times. It’s easily one of the best spots for breakfast in the area, and although we’re not veggie ourselves, we haven’t once left dissatisfied after sampling its scrumptious vegetarian grub.

We popped in this morning for a cup of tea (strong black coffee for me), and I couldn’t resist ordering the posh egg and chips. A perfectly fried duck egg, crisp polenta chips and a spicy mix of beans and vegetables make this arguably one of the best brunches money can buy in East London.

the-larder-bethnal-green-egg-and-chips

And here’s a bonus photo of my fiancée at The Larder:

the-larder-bethnal-green-tea-coffee

via Instagram