Espresso Marinated Flat Iron Steak from Nick’s Cove

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My love affair with Nick’s Cove began long before the restaurant even had that name. When Jason and I first moved to Sonoma County my good friend Jeny came to visit and we drove her back to San Francisco along Highway 1, stopping at what would one day be Nick’s Cove for dinner. The pier was very dilapidated back then, but we took a stroll out there anyway and Jeny captured the moment for us. The food was not nearly as good as it is now, but we pretty much had the place to ourselves and had a wonderful time.

I can’t believe how young we look in this photo!

Fast forward twenty years and I have become friends with lady behind the now legendary restaurant, Dena Grunt. Last winter, when Dena was finalizing her cookbook showcasing some of the restaurants best recipes, I was lucky enough to test a few before the cookbook went to print. This one, Espresso Marinated Flat Iron Steak, is super simple and makes a delicious dinner. And since the rain has abated for the time being I highly recommend making it this weekend.

Since I do not have an espresso machine at home I chose the option of substituting very strong black coffee. That with lots of garlic and shallots give this marinade a lot of flavor. Be sure to flip the steaks immediately after putting in the marinade and then a few times during the day. You’ll want to make sure they have plenty of time in the marinade, so get them going first thing in the morning or even the night before for the best flavor.

I recommend taking the steak out of the fridge at least an hour before you grill it for more even cooking. Lucky for me I have a great grill master here at home! We served ours with roasted broccoli and Mashed Red Potatoes.

Espresso Marinated Flat Iron Steak from Nick’s Cove

Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time7 minutes
Marinade Time6 hours
Total Time6 hours 37 minutes
Course: Main Course
Servings: 4 people


  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed espresso or strong coffee
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs flat iron steak, trimmed of excess fat and halved crosswise


  • To marinate the steaks, in a small bowl, whisk together the espresso, shallots, garlic, vinegar, oil, salt, paprika, and pepper. Arrange the steaks in a single layer in baking dish, pour the marinade evenly over them, and then turn the steaks to coat evenly. Cover the dish and refrigerate, turning the steaks once or twice, for at least 6 hours or up to overnight.
  • Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct heat cooking over high heat (450°F). Brush the grill grate clean.
  • Remove the steaks from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels, Arrange the steaks on the grate and grill, turning once or twice and with the lid closed as much as possible, until nicely grill marked and done to your liking, about 7 minutes for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.
  • Slice the steak against the grain, arrange on a platter, and serve at once.

Dena was kind enough to let me share this recipe with you, but trust me, you want the whole cookbook. You can order Table With A View, the history and recipes of Nick’s Cove using this Amazon link. But if you live locally I highly recommend driving out to Nick’s and picking up a copy in person. It is such a fun place, and they make the best crab cakes, which are in season right now. One bite of those crab cakes and you are definitely going to want the recipe!

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