When is “4-5 minutes” not 4 to 5 minutes?

When is “4-5 minutes” not 4 to 5 minutes?

After we left my mom’s hospital last night, we headed down into Portland for dinner. Melanie wanted to go to a place we went with my mom and my sister Francesca last year called the Flatbread Company. It’s a kind of “crunchy/granola/organic” pizza place, where the pizza is very good and cooked in a wood-fired oven. It’s also very popular in these parts. Even for off-season, it was packed.

Thus I was a little surprised that when I asked how long the wait for two people, the hostess said “4 to 5 minutes.” After all, there had to be about 25 to 30 people standing there, waiting. Maybe they were a couple of big parties of 10, I thought. So I put our name in and we waited. And waited. I was getting annoyed at about the half hour mark—it’s one thing to be off in your estimate by a few minutes, but a half hour?—when it suddenly came to me. She didn’t say, “4 to 5 minutes;” she said, “45 minutes.” D’oh! What kind of accent was that?

Well, we waited anyway and got seated after about another 20 minutes. The pizza was indeed good, as was the wine I ordered, a 2003 Andezon Cotes du Rhone. And since Maine apparently has a re-corking law, I could order a bottle and take the leftovers home. (With Melanie pregnant, ordering wine out has become problematic; I either have to order by the glass, which limits my selection, or drink as much of the bottle as I can myself and leave the rest behind. Happily, it takes a lot of wine to inebriate me for some reason, a lot more than the standard alcohol conversions of beer or liquor. Must be the Italian thing. Still, I don’t always feel like drinking a lot of wine at one sitting.)

The other thing we noticed was the number of pregnant women (actually Melanie noticed them; must be a pregnant woman radar) and babies. There sure were a lot kids there on a Friday night. It’s not exactly a “family pizza” type place, along the lines of a Pizza Hut. Flatbread Company certainly attracts its share of date couples and groups of college kids. Still, the atmosphere is loud enough that a fussy kid will not bother anyone.

So if you’re ever in Portland and want some good pizza, check out Flatbread Company. Just call ahead to put your name in the queue if you can. And don’t expect a 4-5 minute wait for a table on a Friday night.

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