I have been meaning to try Mellow Mushroom for a while now. When it opened in Carytown a few months ago, there was a ton of hype around the restaurant, and it always seemed to be packed. I heard stories of long waits, never being able to get a table, and chilled-out waiters who were enjoyable but not the fastest servers.
My friend and I decided to go for dinner on a Tuesday night and there was plenty of room. The atmosphere is laid- back yet modern; all of the tables and chairs have a clean-cut look, but the lighting is very dim and gives it an interesting contrast. There were a lot of families eating inside, but it was not loud. The space itself is pretty big, and they have a big bar along one of the walls. Our waitress was very sweet and helpful, a good balance between relaxed and attentive.
Mellow Mushroom has a pretty good beer and drink list, which accompanied our pizza well. We started with the "Enlightened Spinach Salad," which had fresh spinach topped with apples, dried cherries, homemade candied pecans and feta cheese. It was well balanced and really tasty, which gave me a good idea for something to make myself at home!
When deciding what pizzas we wanted to order, we were confounded. There were so many options that sounded so delicious and unique that we did not know where to begin! So we listed off all of the ones that interested us, and our waitress was helpful in telling us which ones are most popular and her personal favorites. She also said the kitchen could make the pizzas with half of one specialty pie on each side so we could try more of them. This was a game changer, so obviously we ordered two pizza pies with four different specialty flavors.
We decided to get one pizza with half "Mega-Veggie" and half buffalo chicken. The buffalo chicken is a classic and was great; the sauce was not too spicy and did not overpower the whole slice. We also had a choice to have either blue cheese or ranch on the pizza. The "Mega-Veggie"-half of the pizza was also good; it had a red sauce base with feta and mozzarella cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, black olives, Roma tomatoes, broccoli, banana peppers, artichoke hearts and tofu. The pie sounds as though it would be overloaded with toppings, but it actually was not. The toppings were small enough that I was able to have a bit of everything on each slice, but big enough that the ingredients felt fresh.
For our other pie, we got half "Holy Shiitake" pie and half "Thai Dye." The "Holy Shiitake" pie is basically a more sophisticated classic mushroom slice. It is an olive oil and garlic base with shiitake, button and Portobello mushrooms; caramelized onion, mozzarella and Montamore cheeses; drizzled with garlic aioli and black truffle oil and topped with shaved parmesan. The truffle oil flavor was very faint, and I wish they had put more on it, but the pizza was still very good.
The "Thai Dye" pizza was definitely our most unique choice of the night and also delicious. It is also an olive oil and garlic base with all-natural grilled curry chicken, mozzarella cheese, Roma tomatoes and onions, topped with fresh basil, cucumbers and a sweet swirl of Thai chili sauce. Having fresh cucumbers on top of a pizza was something I had definitely never had before, but it was a great contrast to the warmth of the pizza, while gave it some extra crunch. "Thai Dye" definitely wins points for creativity, but I would have to say the buffalo chicken was my favorite.
Mellow Mushroom has a great location, reasonable prices, an accommodating staff and delicious food. Definitely head their way when you get a chance.
Contact reporter Sarah Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org