Many restaurants fall into one of two categories: destination or neighborhood. Flatiron Kitchen + Taphouse in Davidson belongs in both.
Destination because patrons could (and should) go out of their way for nicely cooked, American-style kobe beef and fresh-off-the-boat seafood. Neighborhood for its friendly, easygoing vibe and support of local farms and beers.
The restaurant’s hardwood floors and floor-to-ceiling windows combine to create a warm and airy feeling upon entering. Art deco décor touches like wrought iron screens are deliberately reminiscent of New York City’s landmark Flatiron Building, which the location of the eatery in wedge-shaped Stowe’s Corner resembles. A striking hexagonal bar with a “beer tower” in the center draws focus. Wooden tables and booths are positioned along the edge of the space next to the windows.
Opened in the summer of 2010 by a group that includes partners Michael Lavecchia and Chad Hollingsworth, the restaurant’s first executive chef, Tim Groody, left Flatiron in January. Groody remains a minority partner in the restaurant, but in February a new chef, the Colombia-born, Florida-raised Andres Arboleda was hired.
A Cornelius resident, Arboleda has lived in the Charlotte area for about three years. Arboleda liked the restaurant’s neighborhood feel and embraced the opportunity to work with Lavecchia and Hollingsworth, who are also partners in Charlotte’s Seafoods.com. He praises the suppliers the Flatiron is able to work with for seafood, beef and other meats.
Appetizers are the most ambitious part of the familiar offerings on Flatiron’s menu. There’s a white truffle polenta with local greens and roasted tomatoes ($6.75), warm North Carolina “Calico-Farmstead” goat cheese dip ($8.75) and a “mezza platter” of sundried tomato pesto, olive tapenade and white bean puree, served with hickory smoked flatbread ($8.75). The garlicky white bean puree is the most successful of the dips with the thin and toasty flatbread. A kobe beef carpaccio is also available, topped with a sherry aioli and black lava salt ($8.75).
The grass-pastured beef from Mills Family Farm in Mooresville is the only locally-raised cut of meat on the dinner menu, featured as a New York strip steak ($26.25).
The American-style kobe beef comes from Snake River Farms in Boise, Idaho. Kobe is known for its rich, buttery flavor and silky mouth-feel – evident in Flatiron’s signature flatiron steak ($27.75), sirloin culotte cut ($18.25) and center-cut rib-eye ($23.75). Steaks from the Double R Ranch in Washington state round out the wood-fired beef portion of the menu. These include a “butcher’s cut” hanger steak ($19.75) and a filet mignon tenderloin ($28.75).
The hanger steak was flawlessly cooked medium, as requested, with a touch of pink in the center. Accompanied by whipped potatoes, cremini mushrooms and spinach, the dish is satisfying, earthy and suited to the upcoming fall and winter weather.
The dayboat-fresh seafood includes a signature wood-fired swordfish chop ($28.50), hickory-grilled North Carolina brook trout ($19.50) and a daily seafood feature (market price).
The flaky and fleshy trout is fall-off-the-bone tender and served with roasted cauliflower, exotic mushrooms and a bright and fresh citrus tabbouleh. One night, the seafood special was a shrimp risotto, served with sweet corn and a tomato and onion confit. Rich and stuffed with plump and tasty shrimp, this hearty dish is comfort food at its highest level.
The menu contains many other comforting entrees as well, like a rosemary wood-fired half chicken, accompanied by smoked Gouda grits ($16.25), Mills Family Farm meatloaf ($14.75) and St. Louis-style ribs ($14.75/half, $23.75/full) made with Berkshire pork. Burgers and salads are also offered at dinner and at lunch. The juicy Taphouse burger, on an egg bun topped with white cheddar and ale onions, served with fries, is another excellent example of comfort food taken up a notch.
In addition to the burger, there are interesting lunch sandwiches like a tabbouleh chicken wrap ($9.50), a Wildcat steak and mushroom melt ($9.50) and a lamb burger with a citrus tzatziki ($12.75). Sandwiches come with a choice of salad, fries, crunchy slaw or Yukon chips as a side.
“Taphouse” in the restaurant’s name refers to the many local and international craft beers that are available from the “beer tower.” North Carolina beers make up a large part of these, as there are seven different state beers listed, including a refreshing White Zombie Ale from Catawba Valley Brewing Company in Morganton. A Belgium white ale made with coriander, orange peel and wheat, it’s just the thing to take the edge off late-summer humidity. Wine fans will enjoy a selection of 40 different varieties from around the world, including 26 by the glass. There is also a full bar with a “Flatiron Select” list of cocktails.
Lavecchia says Davidson and the surrounding communities have been extremely supportive of the restaurant, even in this stressed economic climate.
Flatiron’s open and welcoming atmosphere and high-quality, expertly-prepared dishes make it a neighborhood restaurant worth seeking out – even if you’re not from the neighborhood.
Flatiron Kitchen + TaphouseWhere: 215 South Main St., DavidsonHours: Monday-Thursday 11:00a.m. - 10p.m., Friday-Saturday 11:00a.m. - 11p.m., Sunday 11:00a.m. - 9p.m.More info: 704-237-3246, flatirononmain.com