True to its Vermont roots
BEDFORD -- The inspiration for the Flatbread Company was born in Vermont, but here it lives beside a busy highway, atop a giant patch of concrete, surrounded by an antiseptic office park. Yet inside, the restaurant that began in a former barn in the Green Mountains smells like a wood fire and kids pile on a long stone bench to watch the pizzas go into the dome-shaped oven. Rough granite obelisks rise from the floor.
True to its roots, Flatbread takes organic and locally grown food very seriously: The word “organic’’ appears on the menus more than 80 times. Even the Bloody Mary is made with organic celery. The names of local farms that provide ingredients hang from one counter.
Flatbread, which now has a handful of restaurants in New England and Hawaii, stays true to its name: Don’t come here looking for variety. The restaurant offers basically one salad - greens with celery, carrots, sesame seeds, seaweed, and berry vinaigrette ($6) - though you can customize it with cheeses, vegetables, and meat. Each day, workers equipped with long wooden paddles sling eight regular flatbreads and a few daily specials into the wood-fired oven, though you can also choose your own mix of ingredients.
Jay’s Heart ($8.75) is the basic cheese flatbread, and it’s crispy and tangy, with a mix of Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. We love the Coevolution ($9.75), with kalamata olives, red onions, red peppers, rosemary, goat cheese and mozzarella. Nitrate-Free Pepperoni & Mushroom ($9.50, and yes, that’s its official name) is made with generous amounts of homemade, spicy pepperoni.
One disappointment is the Jimmy’s Free-Range Chicken ($10.25), a pie strewn with roast chicken, corn, black beans, cilantro, tomatoes, and a “sour cream lime drizzle.’’ It sounds like it might be too much, but it’s actually too little, bland despite the crush of toppings, which include dried-out chicken. The Vegan ($7.75), which we feared might be bland, is instead smoky and rich with caramelized onions, kalamata olives, and mushrooms.
The waitstaff are happy to let you split desserts; one night they bring us two spread over four plates. Sarah’s Chocolate Chip Banana Bread ($6.25) is our favorite, served warm with ice cream and chocolate sauce, although the promised whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup is missing.
This is a restaurant that welcomes children; our waitress brings crayons and drawing paper to the table. But the abundance of families in the single large room with an open kitchen also means the noise level sometimes soars.
One summer night as we ate, the sun was setting and through the far window, we could see only the trees beyond the parking lot. As we left, the full moon was high. The traffic had calmed. It might have been Vermont.