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At the Table: Flatbread Social in Saratoga Springs stands out with simple, solid menu and hip vibe

At the Table: Flatbread Social in Saratoga Springs stands out with simple, solid menu and hip vibe

Offers wood-fired pizzas topped with fresh ingredients, salads and light fare served with craft beer and cocktails
At the Table: Flatbread Social in Saratoga Springs stands out with simple, solid menu and hip vibe
The Crunchy Thai Salad at Flatbead Salad.
Photographer: caroline lee/for the daily gazette

Flatbread Social is smart and happening.

The restaurant extension of the Henry Street Taproom offers wood-fired pizzas topped with fresh ingredients, salads and light fare served with craft beer and cocktails.

If you want to play shuffleboard and sip kombucha, this is the place for you. There are the hip requisite garage doors, black painted ceiling and industrial decor, but it’s colorful and cheerful, with bright molded plastic chairs and wood tables. We took a booth.

The menu is one side of a page, simple: starters, pizza, salads. House-made meatballs ($12) with “gooey mozzarella” and house-made focaccia sounds terrific, and probably serves as a meal. There’s daily garbage bread ($9), an underappreciated menu item if there was any, that is basically a blank slate for a chef to have fun. You can get wings in their sauces, hummus and a cheese board ($18) with prosciutto and white anchovies and all the fixings.

Salads are outstanding, creative combinations that sound wonderful, like the Kinda Salad ($14) with arugula, segmented oranges, baked prosciutto, Spanish Manchego cheese topped with honey-roasted peanuts. It checks all the boxes: salty, fatty, tangy, umami, crunchy. It shows they’re thinking when they’re putting things together.

Pizzas are big enough to share, and the colorfully named pies also show imagination, like the Green Goddess ($17), a vegetable-forward pie topped with broccoli and asparagus. We got a plain pie and a salad to share.

The day we visited there was a sandwich menu on the table: meatball, Italian mix, veggie, all $12 or $14.

Flatbread Social has the best nonalcoholic drinks around. The server told us they played around with the lemonade, trying different combinations of flavors, finally settling on rosemary grapefruit ($5), which is refreshing, fragrant, unexpected and delicious, I can tell you. Patrice enjoyed the Moroccan mint iced tea ($5). “I can taste peppermint, ginger and honey,” she observed. “It’s a little bit sweet.” Slim slices of lemon and lime “are pretty,” she added. Drinks come with groovy metal straws.

If they bring the same enthusiasm to their house cocktails, you can expect them to be outstanding. There’s a long list of beers on draft and in cans as well.

Points for the simple, sophisticated wine list. There’s one of every kind of wine you’d want to order — not a one mass-market plonk — and all well-priced, most $10 or under.

The server offered a recipe for the lemonade: “It’s really easy to make the rosemary simple syrup at home,” she told us, explaining exactly what proportions of water and sugar to use and how long to steep the herb.

The Crunchy Thai ($14) salad came out first, and “It’s crunchy as the name indicates,” said Patrice, scooping some onto her plate. This salad would be a big meal for one hungry person; it’s perfect for sharing.

It’s also a whole lot of slicing: greens, carrots, red pepper, French cucumber, red onion, scallions, all bite-sized, chopped into varying shapes and tossed evenly with creamy ginger peanut dressing. Big points for that; I know how much work that is. Honey-roasted peanuts finished it off, adding even more crunch. It’s an awesome salad, one of the best around.

We scooped it onto our plates, marveling at the combination of vegetables in a perfect palette of summer color. And there was more: Radicchio ratcheted up the quality of the greens. Every bit was bite-sized, and the creamy, ginger-flavored dressing was nutty and smooth, tossed evenly, thank you very much, not just poured over.

“This is so good I don’t want to stop eating it, and I love pizza,” said Patrice, eyeing the pie the server dropped at our table. That’s how good the salad was. 
We shared a simple pizza, called Plain Cheese Please ($15), made with sauce, fresh and mild Manchego cheese and basil, with grated cheese sprinkled over. We watched as the chef in the open kitchen at back of the restaurant expertly stretched pizza dough into shells, patiently stretching and passing from the back of one hand to the other.

It’s not easy making these pizzas. I can tell you that because I took a class to learn it. Try sliding those pies into the oven with the peel, turning them around and remembering Newton’s first law of motion: that objects in motion remain in motion, whether cheese, dough, or sausage. We had to clean the oven when we finished. 

Chef told us: less is more. The students who piled their crusts high with their favorite toppings were sent back to take some off. Some didn’t even make it into the wood-fired oven. The best ones were brushed with butter, smeared with a bit of sauce, light on the toppings.

Chef would have approved of this pie. It was handsome, with a thick layer of sauce that was tangy, sweet and a little bit salty. Slices of fresh cheese were placed at intervals, and it was dotted with basil leaves and dusted with grated cheese. Points for the delicious sauce, the fresh cheese and basil, but even hot out of the oven it just didn’t come together for me.

The problem with using wonderful, fresh cheese is that it comes off in big pieces. I didn’t mind that so much, but it’s July and basil is growing everywhere like a weed, and there were only a few leaves on the pie.

Another problem with sliced cheese is that it is harder to distribute evenly. There are so few ingredients in a good pizza and they should be present on every slice.

The tab for our lunch of big salad, pizza and two drinks came to $41.73 before tip.

We hardly dented the menu, and the super-friendly service (I’ve never been given a recipe before) and the imaginative drinks alone were worth the visit.

Flatbread Social 

WHERE: 84 Henry St.,
Saratoga Springs; 518-886-1198; [email protected]
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $41.73 before tip
MORE INFO: Credit cards:
Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover. Children’s menu. ADA compliant. Parking on street or in Henry Street lot. Also municipal parking a short walk away.

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