Friday, September 05, 2008

Mellow Mushroom (Nashville)

A nice review and even a little advice on waiting tables from Steph! This is actually one of the very first places I ever took Satchel when he was a wee one. In fact, I think it might have been his first ever taste of pizza.

Mellow Mushroom
212 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203

Recently I read about the Mellow Mushroom on one of my favorite food blogs. We go to Nashville frequently to visit family, so I looked forward to a time when I could try it. My chance came over Labor Day weekend, during a long, leisurely visit to Nashville.

A pizza place is perfect for a Chockley family outing- pizza is my favorite food, my kids love it too, and it’s easy to find vegetarian options for those who are so inclined. We were hungry after a day of swimming, so we headed out fairly early for a pizza and a beer. We arrived and were seated next to several other tables full of families, so I felt good about our decision to bring the monkeys. There weren’t any kids menus or crayons, but that was okay- this is in the Vandy area, after all, so their focus is on college-aged kids rather than little kids. There was music playing in the background, enough to keep my kids from standing out as especially loud, and we were early enough to avoid all the drunken twentysomethings. All we needed was someone to take our order.

As a former server, nothing bothers me more than watching a server who does not “consolidate.” It’s such a waiter buzzword, but consolidating is what made me a great server. And it’s the one thing that I can’t let go of when I go in a restaurant. Our waiter was definitely not treating his whole section like one big table (a key tenet in the book of consolidation). Instead, he went to the table behind us, asked what they needed, went to get it, came back with it, then went to the table beside us and did the same thing. Why he couldn’t ask everyone what they wanted at the same time is beyond me. By the time he got to our table to get our drink order, I realized that this place takes the “mellow” in their name pretty seriously, and that I was going to need to run to the car for coloring supplies.

We ordered Sprite for the kids and I asked for a glass of wine. “Can I see your ID?” I laughed at this and pulled out my wallet while my sister-in-law groaned. “I don’t have my purse!” she whispered. Meanwhile, our server was asking me to remove my ID from my wallet, which is quite a chore. I wanted to look at the guy and say, “Dude, I’m a 35-year-old woman who came to dinner at 5:30 with my in-laws and my two kids- are you kidding me with this?” Instead I wrangled my license out of my wallet while my mother-in-law pleaded the case for her 25-year-old daughter. “I gave birth to her in 1983- can you really not bring her a beer?” Apparently not. But they had Abita root beer, so all was not lost. I went ahead and ordered a pepperoni pizza for the kids while everyone else pulled out their IDs, and soon we were on our way.

The rest of the meal went great. The kids got their pizza first and practically swallowed it whole. While the adults were eating, the kids had big, fat, fresh-from-the-oven cookies for dessert. We timed it perfectly, and the kids had a great time. The adults did too- the pizza was wonderful! Mine had olive oil, minced garlic, provolone, mozzarella, feta, onions, and pesto chicken. Chip had The Philosopher’s Pie, a pizza loaded with steak, mushrooms, olives, artichokes and cheese. Others took advantage of the build-your-own feature, enjoying fresh mushrooms, spinach, black olives, and the like. The red sauce had a nice hint of fennel which went over big. The best part, to me, was the crust. So greasy! I loved it. And it was even fantastic the next day, after making the trip home to Memphis in a cooler.

The meal ended on a bit of a sour note- the credit card machine went down, and it took a good 15 minutes for someone to figure out how to imprint our card. Since we were in two cars, we were able to send the kids on home after a pit stop in the restrooms (“Dirty” was the report from Chloe and my mother-in-law.) so the kids weren’t tortured by the wait. Overall, the quality of the food more than overcame the unfortunately lame service. I believe the Mellow Mushroom has just replaced SATCO as my Vandy-area guilty pleasure, although next time I’ll come prepared for a slower, more “mellow” experience.

Mellow Mushroom on Urbanspoon


Courtney said...

There were (are) tons of rumors swirling around that Mellow Mushroom will be opening in Cooper-Young, but at the outset it is meeting some resistence because of its chain-like being. And if there's one thing everyone knows all chains are evil ..... right? :). I think it is looking at the deadspace between Sweet and Dish, but I'm not sure and it may have all fizzled because this was two or so months ago. But hey I do nothing but report rumors.

Ginger said...

DO NOT tease me by telling me that my favorite pizza joint is coming within three blocks of my house! The hubby and I were just lamenting while reading this that Midtown needs an MM. I may not sleep tonight. (And yes, Stephanie, the service always sucks, but the food always makes up for it. Next time, try the spinach salad with esperanza dressing, which comes with like four strips of bacon on it!)

Lesley said...

Those comments cannot possibly be true. You live in Memphis! Home of Memphis Pizza Cafe! I find Mellow Mushroom to be mediocre at best and overpriced and soggy at worst. I miss MPC and eat there every time I visit Memphis. If MPC opened in Nashville, they'd wipe everyone out (except the House of Pizza guys, but their hours and locations are impossible).

Anonymous said...

How can you complain about being carded for alcohol? It's the law. Would you recommend that restaurants put their liquor licenses on the line just to be sure you are not inconvenienced? It makes it hard to appreciate your opinion on this restaurant when you are complaining about them following the law.

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