Flat Top NYC

By Dane Feldman

Photo by Dane Feldman.

Flat Top is located on the corner of 121st St and Amsterdam Ave in Morningside Heights. In a quiet neighborhood adjacent to Columbia University’s campus, Flat Top is bustling with students, professors, and locals alike.

The food
Flat Top offers a breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner menu. After walking by the restaurant several times over the course of the last few weeks, I decided I had to stop in for dinner. The dinner menu in particular errs on the side of Mediterranean, but with a French bistro flare.

If I’d been a bit more hungry or with a larger group, I would have chosen to order a variety of the appetizers: the Moroccan Grilled Shrimp (served with a chickpea cake and spicy harissa aioli), Three Mushroom Risotto (porcini, oyster, and shimeji mushroom risotto with parmesan foam), and the Bone Marrow (roasted bone marrow, caramelized shallot onion jam, parsley shallot salad, and served with toasted brioche bread and maldon salt) all sounded almost too interesting to pass up.

Instead, I went for the Flat Top Burger: Angus beef, a beefsteak tomato, arugula, red onion, and spicy aioli on a truffle brioche bun and served with a side of herb russet wedges. As far as restaurant burgers go (read: not fast food burgers), this is hands down one of he very best I’ve tasted. I prefer my burgers cooked medium rare and this one was cooked perfectly. The bun was soft, but crisp and lightly oily, the arugula was fresh and not scarce, and the spicy aioli was so good and abundant that we passed it around the table.

The drinks
It should come as no surprise that the drinks were the deciding factor on whether or not to step into Flat Top.

For starters, the cocktail menu includes several wine cocktails, which go smoothly with the kind of food served here. A Gruner Veltliner, candied ginger, and lime cocktail had me practically falling out of my chair (Gruner Veltliner is quite possibly my favorite variety of wine), but I settled on something even lighter: champagne, white wine, and grapefruit bitters. This cocktail was fantastic and solidified my decision to branch out and buy more kinds of bitters for my home bar.

The service/ambience
The wait staff at Flat Top is amongst the friendliest, most knowledgeable I have come across. They are sweet, patient, and attentive—a perfect combination for such a delightfully intimate spot.

The dimly lit open space has two levels separated by a short ramp and half of a wall. The bar boasts a beautiful (and working!) vintage espresso machine and the rooms are decorated in a way that suggests Flat Top would be an oasis in any city.

Next time I come here, I’m bringing a fleet and an empty stomach. From salads to desserts to cocktails, practically every item on Flat Top’s menu is worth a taste.