Alice fell down, down, down the rabbit hole, twirling and floating until she landed in a strange world where normal rules are bent and something wonderful is around every corner. The playful, bright yellow design of the newly constructed Mellow Mushroom restaurant and the giant, keyhole-shaped door are the first clues you are about to enter a delightful world where “Alice in Wonderland” meets “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.” That mashup is the brainchild of owners Jason and Samantha Jones, who, along with the Mellow design team, brought the imagery of their favorite novels to their new location in the Waterside development just off Shallowford Road.
“Out there is the regular world, in here it’s Mellow World,” Jason says, and Mellow World is a world of infinite choices, starting with the drinks. A Coca-Cola Freestyle Machine offers countless combinations of Coke products by letting customers choose a base drink to mix with one or more flavorings. Want Diet Barq’s with vanilla? How about Mello Yello with peach? Go for it—there are more than 125 combinations to experiment with. If you prefer an adult beverage, choose from among 64 draft beers and more than 75 bottled beers or try a Beer Blend, such as the my personal favorite, the “Euro Trash,” a combination of Guinness and Stella Artois.
The staff was very friendly and patient as I looked over what seemed like an infinite array of ingredient choices for my pizza. My server could sense my hunger and suggested I munch on some bruschetta while I pondered pizza toppings. The bruschetta was made with flavorful Roma tomatoes, a touch of fresh basil and feta cheese sitting atop crunchy garlic toast points which were then generously drizzled with a sweet balsamic reduction.
I was able to look up from licking the balsamic reduction off my plate long enough to finally put in my pizza order. Rather than building my own from the endless list of potential goodies, I chose to order a specialty pizza, the Mellowterranian. This take on a Mediterranean pizza starts with an olive oil and garlic base topped with chicken, sweet onions, roasted red peppers, black olives, mozzarella and feta cheeses. It comes with tzatziki sauce that is creamy, delicious and powerfully flavored, so don’t go overboard and pour it over the entire pizza or it will overpower the clean flavors of the freshly prepared toppings that cover this tasty pie. Just a dab will do ya!
Pizza lives and dies by its crust and Mellow Mushroom’s crust gets a thumbs up. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and perfectly browned on the bottom (thanks to a 525° stone-bottom oven), their crust is a lesson in the dough arts. As I ate my way through my first slice to the edge, my taste buds were greeted by the saltiness of grated Parmesan cheese held in place with a generous brush of garlic butter that made it like a bread stick treat at the end of every slice.
If you like a show with your dinner you can watch Bradley Johnson, Mellow Mushroom’s pizza-maker extraordinaire and U.S. Pizza Team freestyle pizza-tossing champion, perform dough acrobatics from elevated stadium seating that will give you a clear view of the action in the kitchen.
Mellow Mushroom’s huge selection of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices means that carnivores and herbivores can finally dine in unity at the same table. My friend ordered the tempeh-grilled hoagie and she loved it! The tempeh is marinated in Teriyaki and balsamic vinegar before being grilled to firm perfection. Pile on feta cheese, grilled veggies and garnish with pesto mayo to top off a killer sandwich that even this unapologetic carnivore will gladly devour.
The portions are very generous, so expect to take home leftovers for late-night munchies. And I was pleasantly surprised to find I didn’t need to take out a second mortgage to pay for this feast at Mellow World—a bonus in these cash-strapped times.
So when your stomach is calling for food, follow the rabbit down, down, down to Mellow Mushroom Waterside for something delicious and unexpected—quality food at pizza-joint prices in a fun atmosphere. What’s not to love?
Mellow Mushroom Waterside
2318 Lifestyle Way
Open daily, 11 a.m. to midnight
Facebook.com/Mellow Mushroom Waterside