IF YOU GO
* Where: Mellow Mushroom, 2318 Lifestyle Way off Shallowford Road.
* Phone: 468-3737.
* Website: mellowmushroom.com/Chattanooga.
* Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight every day.
* Price range: $5.35 for some half sandwiches to $25.95 for some large specialty pizzas.
The few times I'd been to a Mellow Mushroom I enjoyed myself, and my trip to the new Hamilton Place location was no different. A friend and I stopped in after some holiday shopping. We were starving and stressed, and the restaurant was just the place to mellow us out.
The appetizer selection didn't wow me. I ordered the bruschetta for $7.95. The balsamic glaze drizzled over the bread was tasty, but the five small slices made the price a little too high.
For entrees, Mellow Mushroom offers salads and sandwiches alongside its pizzas and calzones. There are 13 specialty pies to choose from, making it tempting to spring for one of the old standards, but where's the fun in that? Building your own pizza often can be just as delicious as the chef's creations. As long as you don't go too crazy on the toppings, a custom pie can save a couple of bucks, too.
I decided to flex my creative muscles and went with a jerk chicken and jalapeno pizza. The chicken was more sweet than spicy, but the jalapenos more than covered for that missing kick.
With only four on the menu, Mellow Mushroom's calzones are an underappreciated selection that I was glad my friend ordered. She went with the Steak & Cheese -- a Philly cheese steak in calzone form. I had a good portion of her meal (but hey, she got a couple slices of my pizza) and can say it was quite good. The chefs didn't skimp on ingredients, and there was a perfect amount of cheese to give the calzone that texture and flavor.
The hostess laughed and chatted with us as soon as we walked in, we were quickly seated and our waitress walked up to the table just a minute after we'd settled. She was attentive and friendly, tolerating my horrible jokes as she brought us our food and drinks.
The food took some time to come out, probably 20 to 30 minutes, but the waitress had forewarned us about expected wait times, so we didn't mind sitting.
Mellow Mushrooms are well-known for decor that would delight, well, someone mellowing out on mushrooms. Walking into the Hamilton Place location felt like I stepped over to the dark side of the moon. The Alice in Wonderland-themed murals on the walls were well done, elaborate and interesting, and sure to please (if not scare) the kids.
There were plenty of tables, booths and some bar seating. Our table was a bit damp with a few leftover crumbs but by no means dirty enough to gross us out.
The new Mellow Mushroom by Hamilton Place mall can be a great place to spend an evening watching a ballgame. It has good food, a unique atmosphere, six big screens and $8 pitchers of beer.
But if you're going, make sure you do plan to spend part of your evening there. The chefs make all their food from scratch, so wait times can be lengthy, especially when they're slammed. Servers are up front about the wait, so as long as you know what you're getting into and don't mind spending a little extra for high-quality pizza, you won't regret Mellow Mushroom.