On The Road: Two Palate Dining: Mellow Mushroom
She Said: Mellow Mushroom
Last weekend were very privileged to get return to our alma mater for Homecoming weekend. So, we headed down for what was to be one short day visiting Emory and Henry College. I love our school, but it’s definitely in a very small town and there’s really not much to eat in Emory itself so we planned to find lunch in the Abingdon or Bristol area. We ultimately settled on Mellow Mushroom in Bristol, Virginia after our plans fell through a local gourmet restaurant (next time!).
I thought that the décor was really cute. I loved the nods to Bristol being the birthplace of Country music (except for the big Saint Hank Williams shrine- weird and not cool). My favorite thing about the décor was the “fandelier” as RJ and I call them. We were dreaming a few weeks ago that I would have a big problem with having a fancy house because I love ceiling fans and chandeliers and I wouldn’t be able to choose between them.
Because we hadn’t eaten our light breakfast since six o’clock that morning and we had walked all over campus several times, we were starving! I also don’t like stopping on the road to eat so we decided that we would have one large meal and go all out with appetizers. I did not want to stop again until we got home!
First, we had Spinach and Artichoke dip which was wonderful! It was so creamy and salty it was amazing. I also really liked that you could taste the spinach and artichokes, but they didn’t taste too green or too tinny. The dip was served golden, crisp toast rounds, which was a neat alternative to the traditional tortilla chips. The toast rounds were so good you could have eaten them plain.
When we had been to the Mellow Mushroom in Pigeon Forge we had ordered the pretzels and love them. However, we learned that they are large and we would be better off with a half order. The pretzels from Pigeon Forge where shorter and fatter, than the pretzels here were. These pretzels were long golden loops. We didn’t finish them, but they were delicious! The dough is crispy and is the same mellow, rich dough the use for the pizzas. The Parmesan that they were dusted with gave them a nice element of saltiness without being overwhelming. I didn’t care for the marinara dipping sauce because I thought it was too sharp. But, the pretzels were still fun to eat without it.
We ordered the Mighty Meaty pizza. It’s delicious. Seriously, if you are a meat lover the smell alone will almost make you drool. The pizza has traditional red sauce with mozzarella cheese, ham, bacon, sausage, pepperoni and ground beef. I normally don’t even eat sausage (it upsets my tummy and I just don’t like it), but it tastes good here. The only thing I’m not super crazy about is the ham. But, I love everything else so much about this pie that I’ll deal with the ham. It’s also topped with more Parmesan cheese, which is always a good addition!
We had a really nice time. Our server was really nice and the restaurant was clean. They also played really great 90’s and 00s music. We were definitely in the mood for nostalgia and the music was a nice touch. It was also really neat to hear the servers and kitchen staff singing along sometimes. It’s not a fancy, gold tablecloth kind of place, and some people might think it’s too loud or too much fun. I like it a lot. It’s nice to eat somewhere that doesn’t make me sick (I’ll chill you some other time with my Cracker Barrel horror stories- that’s right, stories… as in plural! Don’t worry though, I now haven’t eaten in one for years and don’t plan to ever again). As we are apt to be back in the area I’m sure we’ll eat either here or at the Pigeon Forge location. We spent 11 hours total in the car and my tummy was totally fine! Good job, Mellow Mushroom, the sensitive stomach road warriors need more places like you!
Spinach and Artichoke Dip- 10
Mighty Meat Pizza- 9
He Said: Mellow Mushroom
We’ve actually been meaning write about Mellow Mushroom for several months. Our first exposure was a to their location in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Kari had the great idea to eat there over the weekend at their Bristol, Virginia location when we were nearby for our college’s homecoming.
We got their spinach and artichoke dip, a small order of their pretzels, and shared a small Mighty Meaty pizza. I can tell you right now it was all delicious.
The spinach and artichoke dip is the best I have ever had. There’s nothing crazy about the ingredients in the dip. It’s just spinach, artichokes, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and a cream sauce. Maybe it’s the dippers that are the special element. Instead of tortilla chips to dip, this appetizer comes with toasted bread slices to spread the dip on. The toast is a nice bite on its own thanks to being brushed with garlic butter. It’s a different experience that you expect and is highly enjoyable.
Mellow Mushroom’s pretzels are not your average. You can get them with butter and salt, garlic butter and Parmesan, or cinnamon and honey. When we get these we get the garlic butter and Parmesan topping. The dough is the star here. As simple as it sounds, they just use pizza dough for the pretzels too. That creates a different experience from traditional pretzels that is right at home in a pizza place. The garlic butter and Parmesan brings this back to be akin to breadsticks, but the whole thing is elevated.
The Mighty Meaty however, is exactly what you’d expect from a pizza with that description. Pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, ham and applewood smoked bacon combine into the pinnacle of what a meat pizza should be. You can taste all of the perfectly cooked meats separately, but they also blend together magnificently. The crust holds up well to all the topics, but isn’t too stiff to eat. And in an extra treat, Mellow Mushroom sprinkles Parmesan cheese all over the outer crust of the pizza. In my mind there isn’t anything they could do to make this pizza any better.
What makes Mellow Mushroom such a great experience is that they know how and where to deliver little twists, and when to just swing for the fences. In addition to great food, each location has totally different but totally crazy décor. The one in Bristol had a painted mural of the Carter Family on one of their walls, and the craziest lighting fixture/ceiling fan I’ve ever seen. They did have a picture of another country singer made up like an altar when you first come in, and I didn’t like that. That’s the only case they went too far though.
My only other complaint is that there’s not one in Northern Virginia! There’s a location in Adam’s Morgan in DC, but I wish there was one we could eat at more often.
Spinach and Artichoke Dip-10