Every eatery has times when nothing seems to go right, even beloved Flipside in Brunswick.
Early in my career one of my editors told me she ascribed to the “criticism sandwich” school of editing, that is, a compliment, followed by whatever axe she felt needed to be swung and then topped off with another puffy white bread compliment.
Naturally I learned to dread every compliment.
I love Flipside Pizza in Brunswick. It’s my go-to place to get a slice or two for my son on a night when I’m not ready to cook. There are organic, good and interesting local toppings for me (he gets cheese) and the storefront on Maine Street is cozy and welcoming whether the sidewalk in front is icy or on a hot summer day.
On this particular hot summer day, however, nothing was going right for the little pizza joint. The three young men behind the counter were moving slowly, discussing how uncooperative the dough was because of the heat. Also that chorizo/ricotta/cilantro special of the day I was hoping for was not available and wouldn’t be for a mumbled-about number of minutes.
“Five-oh?” I asked. “Or fifteen?”
“Five-oh” said the man making desultory attempts to form a pizza pie with the unhappy dough.
There were three elderly looking slices of cheese available on the shelf that usually holds a good variety of slices.
This was problematic. We were headed to a movie at the Eveningstar Cinema down the block, “Life Itself,” the documentary about movie critic Roger Ebert, which was starting in 28 minutes. This pizza was meant to be a true eat and run date, and also a bribe. My son is 10. He was accompanying me grudgingly, even though I felt there would be value in him seeing it. Up until last year, I was a movie critic and I told myself “Life Itself” would give him perspective as to why I spent the first nine years of his life running off to movies constantly. Also, Roger Ebert is inspiring.
The counterman ambled to the stove and peeked into a box sitting on top of it. “I can give you this pepperoni,” he said. Someone had neglected to pick it up. “It’s just going to get thrown away.” He kindly gave me the large one-topping pie ($18) for the price of a small ($10). Flipside uses local whenever possible, including North Country Smokehouse products and Lakins Gorges Cheeses.
With an $8 salad (lovely fresh greens, goat cheese, flowers, blueberries and raspberry with a tart vinaigrette on the side) and drinks the bill came to $21.60. Since individual slices range between $3 and $3.50 depending on the toppings, this seemed like a deal, even if my kid rarely agrees to eat pepperoni. Also part of the deal? A third beverage, gratis, since they accidentally gave us sparkling water instead of the lemonade we’d requested.
The pizza itself was not blazing hot, since it had been lying about, but it was otherwise up to fine Flipside culinary standards – light on the cheese, a bright tomato sauce, spicy meat and thin everywhere but the generous crust.
My son ate four pieces in about 12 minutes. I enjoyed my salad (packaged in a to-go container because there’s no place to wash dishes in this tiny joint) and a slice while watching a succession of people get to the front of the line and say, in confused response to their request for any kind of pizza, “Five-oh?”
But there was no pizza to be had save for those old cheese slices. A young woman approached the counter and said she was just wondering what had happened to that pizza she’d ordered 40 minutes prior. “It just went in,” the counterman said. “It’ll be about 15 minutes. Sorry.” She looked guilty for asking; we all love Flipside. We all want it to succeed.
A friend from my regular yoga class got to the front of the line hoping for zucchini and agreed to take a slice of cheese along with her salad. While she waited for it to be warmed, I confessed to her of my Eat & Run review intentions and we agreed that it was a shame, on this night, that things should be off. But then I remembered that the last time I’d been in, months before, there were 45 minute waits for pizzas and we’d gone elsewhere. “They need help,” she said, but forgivingly (she does more yoga than I). Then she went looking for her slice, which the counterman had forgotten.
We’ll be back, although not when we’re trying to eat and run.
By the way, “Life Itself” was fantastic and you should definitely see it.
WHERE: 111 Maine St., Brunswick | 207-373-9448 | flipsidemaine.com
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon – 9 p.m. Sunday
PARKING: On street
WAIT: It depends …
OUTDOOR SEATING: Yes, weather permitting.
HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: No