Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Best Pizza & Beer in Burlington: American Flatbread Company

By the time I walked the 3.3 miles back up from the Magic Hat Brewery, where I took their decent little tour, I didn't have much time to eat and drink at American Flatbread Company before I had to leave to run and catch the Megabus back to Boston.  But I was committed.

It was under this time restraint that I agreed to take the one table that was available immediately, the one right closest to the wood burning pizza oven, which would've been lovely on a cold day, but it was a perfect 70 degrees out, and this was over the top.

It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't ideal.

I quickly reread the menu, having read it through once weeks earlier. They allow you to get half pints of any of their draft beers for $3 or whole pints for $5. They make twelve beers in house, serve seven more drafts from nearby breweries, have two hand pulled cask ales, as well as lots of bottles (but who cares about their bottles?). My plan was to have a half pint of the Black Cat Porter and then a half pint (or a whole, if I felt like it, of the Deus Aqua. My waitress didn't hear the "half" part, so she brought me a whole pint of porter.

Black cat porter- "dark and mysterious, a dry, quaffable porter"

It was pretty good, definitely quaffable but also thus lacking in flavor richness. I explained the size mistake to my waitress, and she apologized and I said it was okay, there was no need to take this, throw it away, and then pour me a half, but I was interested to see how she handled it on a bill. It appeared as a $5 pint. I don't know how much control she has, but I think the best thing for a waitress to do in this situation would be to try to get it registered as a $3 half pint because I wasn't even really trying to save the $2 by ordering a half, I was trying to save myself the fullness, the calories. But I hate waist, so I can't stand the thought of pouring out a perfectly good beer just to pour half of another one, just so we go through the formalities correctly. Ah well.

Looking around while I waited for my flatbread, I saw that every pizza looked astoundingly amazing and interesting.

My waitress came around and, having noticed my backpack and my alone-ness, offered me a local newspaper in case I wanted to page through it while I waited. I thanked her. I certainly didn't need that to occupy myself, but I'm always happy to read local papers. Apparently, many Vermontians are dissatisfied with what they considered to be too little national media coverage of their hurricane troubles.

My beautiful pizza arrived:

New Vermont Sausage: Duclos Thompson Farm fresh pork in our homemade nitrate-free maple - fennel sausage baked w/ sundried tomatoes, caramelized onions, mushrooms, cheeses and herbs $10.25 for small; $18.50 for large

It was delicious. I'm not sure I ever want to have sausage again that isn't mapley and fenneled.  Actually, pizza is one of the rare types of food I tend to not want meat on, so here I found the exception. What a wonderful sweetness, enhanced by the caramelized onions and mozzarella, accentuated by the contrast to the light tartness of the sundried tomatoes, in harmony with the mild pungency of the mushrooms. I'm not sure I could custom order something more tailored to my palate.

I really planned on not eating the whole"small" flatbread.

But slice after slice, I wanted more.

At least I didn't eat all the crusts!

I just noticed on the menu that individual sizes are available! What the fuck?! Why didn't my waitress tell me that?! Damn. Anyway, two gluttons could easily share a "small."*  Three to four reasonable people could share it, especially if you also wanted to get a beer or two, Vermont Apple Cider ($2), a locally made on-tap Rookie's Root Beer ($2) a delightful salad ($5.50): Organically grown sweet leaf mesclun greens tossed w/ organic carrots celery, Arame seaweed, toasted sesame seeds and a fresh ginger, tamari vinaigrette flavored w/ our homemade raspberry vinegar. Add handmade vermont goat's cheese for $1. or crumbled Jasper Hill Farm blue cheese for $1.50 (sounds good...)

I really wanted to try the Deus Aqua beer, but my waitress wasn't coming to check on me when I needed her, and I was running out of time.  With eight minutes to go, I finally got her attention and got my beer. You see, I had to try it, as this is the description: Deus Aqua Belgian-Style Saison w/ Honey & Pink and Black Peppercorns

Pink and black peppercorns!

Of course I couldn't really taste peppercorns in it. Especially not gulping it down in two minutes flat in order to get my check and pay and get outta there and power walk full and tipsy to the Megabus, where I wound up making it in plenty of time to have a nice little conversation with some chick on her way to visit her boyfriend for the weekend in Boston and a lesbian artist at UV who was waiting to pick up her girlfriend who was coming in from Boston.

*I came back in September of 2012 and shared a small flatbread with someone else. It was indeed plenty for us, though she was reasonable and had 3/8 of it whereas I had 5/8. Plus I had two half pints of beer! Somehow, we wound up back at that same table in front of the fire. It was either that or wait another fifteen minutes we didn't have because we had to catch, you guessed it, the Megabus! Fortunately, it was a cool day, so the fire wasn't that bad this time.

Carrie had a Vermont Apple Cider - $2

Smokey the Beer - Bamberb-Style Smoked Lager  5.2% a.b.v. "This style is brewed using a majority of beechwood- smoked malt (smoked in Bamberg). The smoke character is well integrated and balanced by a hint of roasted malt and German hops."

It wasn't as smokey as I thought it would be, but it was nice.
Munich Helles - Pale German Lager 5.0% a.b.v. "The holy grail of German Lagers. This beer is malty and crisp--we make ours traditionally: with all German ingredients and lagered (aged at cold temperatures)."

This was great, but I have a holy grailish quest to find a German Lager that's as good as one I had three years ago but forgot to write down the name of. This wasn't quite it.

They let us get two different halves for one small flatbread for $12. We chose two of the three daily specials.

"Diggers and Thompson Farm lamb chili (roasted onions, tomatoes and green peppers)"

I'm starting to really enjoy lamb more. This was delicious. It tasted like camping pizza, if you camp with the kind of people who would make chili with lamb that is.

Chiogga Beets, Jasper Hill Blue Cheese, hazelnuts, baby spinach, rosemary, and infused honey 

The beets were so good, and they blended with  the blue cheese wonderfully. The sweetness of the honey went throughout the whole thing. The hazelnuts were tiny little shreds that were quite subtle, but the gestalt of this thing clearly worked. It was amazing.

American Flatbread on Urbanspoon