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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Me, Josh and Mikey … at the Mellow Mushroom in Tempe

    Me, Josh and Mikey ... at the Mellow Mushroom in Tempe

    On the quest to find the most interesting restaurants in the state, we ventured to Mill Avenue near Arizona State University to review the Mellow Mushroom, a hip pizza joint for the college set. We were driven north, and joined for dinner, by guest drink expert Mike O’Dea. And thus we come to the review, where we’ll judge each restaurant by atmosphere, food quality, service quality and price, with a final, overall rating on a scale of one to five cats (short for categories).With that, we present Mike’s special category first.


    (Guest category)

    Mike called the wine list at the Mellow Mushroom basic, with nothing truly impressive. His analysis of the cocktail list was similar, declaring it fun but lacking depth. I had a White Chocolate Russian, a creative choice passed around and enjoyed by all, but it did nothing to change Mike’s or our opinion. His thoughts on the beer list were quite different. A discerning beer drinker, he declared it one of the best draft beer lists he’d ever seen. For those who don’t drink, the root beer met Mike’s approval as well. It was locally brewed, straight from the tap, with no carbonation. If beer, root or otherwise, is your game, then Mike recommends Mellow Mushroom. If you have a taste for wine or cocktails, though, you’d be happier elsewhere.


    The Mellow Mushroom is indeed mellow. It is geared toward a college crowd within walking distance, and it does not fail to deliver. It’s trendy and it gets the restaurant job done. Our interest was piqued by a gift shop with shirts, hats, and other memorabilia, but by the time we’d arrived (which was fairly late at night), the gift shop was closed. Perhaps that colored our review a bit, but we’re not ashamed to admit it.


    The menu has a lot of different varieties of pizza, so our choices reflected that ratio. I got a standard cheese pizza (to get the most essential taste), Mikey had the “Thai Dye” pizza covered in Asian fare, and Mike ordered the South-of-the-border Melchacho pizza. Josh had a hoagie on wheat, with spicy mustard, mushrooms, carmelized onions and iceberg lettuce. The pizza was much admired by all. Mikey and Mike took the opportunity to trade slices, which was quite successful. However, we all agreed that the pizza could have been cooked a little longer. Though we liked our food in the moment, the flaws slowly grew more noticeable, and we found ourselves not enjoying our experience as much after an hour’s retrospection. As for Josh, he enjoyed his hoagie, but felt that it was something that could have easily been made at home to similar quality. He also pointed out that his side salad looked delicious, but upon actually eating it, found that it was not. Healthy options, he found, are not in abundance at the Mellow Mushroom.


    We had a strange relationship with our server. She tried to make a joke about being psychic when she predicted one of our questions, but we didn’t hear her at first and it fell flat. Feeling bad (and also feeling a bit infatuated), Mikey blurted out, “I can read minds” quite loudly and with little context the next time she came. It was not his finest hour, and did not curry favor with the server for him or our table. My White Chocolate Russian was also somewhat slow to arrive, and I found myself wishing I had had more time to enjoy it before the food arrived.


    Given that it caters to college students, the price falls within the reasonable range, though toward the high end. Mike paid careful attention to the drink prices, and declared the local tap root beer reasonable at $3. The $6 pint, however, was a little questionable. I also received my White Chocolate Russian, normally $9, for half price because of a happy hour. That cut down nicely on what would have been a slightly painful bill.


    The Mellow Mushroom is a fun experience that feels less fun the more you reflect on it. It took the four of us a very interesting walk up and down Mill Avenue (we almost went into a dueling pianos bar) to decide on the Mellow Mushroom. Knowing what we know now, we would enjoy another trip there, but the next time we’re in Tempe we may just brave another walk down Mill to find something new.

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