205 Broad St
After a long day of walking around the awesome riverfront and across the pedestrian bridge, riding the carousel, and generally checking out everything Chattanooga had to offer, we were starved. "We" being Team Oster, our friend Catherine, and her son, Noah, age 2, who met up with us for the weekend. We needed something relatively fast since it was getting late, and something that everyone would like. I suggested the Mellow Mushroom since pizza is usually a crowd pleaser. (I was also a little nostalgic about eating there since Satchel's first bite of pizza was at the Mellow Mushroom in Nashville when he was nine months old.) Catherine and Noah live in Ramallah, so Noah's not really used to eating pizza, but Catherine figured she could at least procure some pasta on his behalf.
We arrived around 6:30pm and there were several people there, but we had no trouble getting a table. The atmosphere was very laidback and bar-like, but there were plenty of families in attendance. Our very attentive waiter supplied us all with the beverage of our choice within minutes and we quickly decided on what we wanted to eat. Bruschetta and meatballs for Noah (there's no pasta on the menu!), a calzone for Catherine, a pepperoni pizza for Satchel and Jiro, and a Caesar salad & Kosmic Karma pizza for Warren and I to split. I mentioned we were starved, right? My only concern was that our pizza had a pesto sauce rather than a red sauce, my favorite, but the waiter happily agreed to bring me a side of sauce for dipping. Warren was very seriously considering ordering one of their witty t-shirts.
Catherine requested Noah's food ASAP and it came out amazingly fast. The monkeys were totally eyeing the meatballs and Catherine quickly offered them each one. Warren and I got our salad right away too so everyone was quite happy eating and chatting and enjoying each other's company. I hadn't dined with a two-year-old in quite some time and was very impressed by Noah's table manners. The monkeys, after going all day, were worn out enough to sit still, quietly eat, and participate in dinner conversation.
We had so much food on the table already I wondered how we'd fit the pizza, but thanks to the elevated metal racks, we had no problem. The pizza was really, really good. Ours had sundried tomatoes, spinach, feta, pesto and fresh tomatoes. Yum. Even the kids' pepperoni was extra tasty. It should come as no surprise to you that we ate everything and even had a second round of beers. (No one had to drive thanks to Chattanooga's free electric shuttle.) Jiro and Satchel claimed that they were still hungry and wanted more meatballs. Catherine thought Noah could probably eat another one, so I ordered some more.
I should have known better.
The restaurant was quite a bit fuller by then, and our waiter and the kitchen were much busier. Whereas our first order of meatballs came out in about five minutes, the second order took infinitely longer. The kids, who had now had a chance for their food to settle, didn't care about eating at all. They wanted to run around some more. We did a few bathroom runs and then let them play pee- a-boo at the railing adjacent to the table. It was time to leave. I called the waiter over and asked to cancel the order of meatballs, but he said they should be done. "Then box them up," I said, hoping someone would eat them before they went bad. (Our hotel room did not have a fridge or a microwave.) "And please bring the check."
By the time I got the check and the meatballs, Catherine and Warren were running the kids up and down the sidewalk outside. I took a quick look at the check, and it seemed a little high, but I just figured it was because it was for 6 instead of our usual 4. I was pretty happy with the service prior to the last order of meatballs, so I left our waiter a very nice 20% tip.
A few days later, back in Memphis, I took a closer look at the receipt. It already had an 18% gratuity added! No wonder! I was not happy about the waiter not mentioning this when he handed it to me. I didn't think a party of six would warrant an automatic gratuity-usually it's more people that that, right? Our waiter, while good, did not deserve an almost 40% tip! I thought about calling the restaurant, but decided it would be more trouble than it was worth. I learned a lesson the hard way. And a hard working waiter got a little bonus. Worse things have happened.
Oh, and just so you know, a Mellow Mushroom is slated to open in Germantown in 2010. Yep Nashville and Chattanooga get one in the urban center, we get one in the burbs. Oh, Memphis.