By Tacy Callies
A trip to Mellow Mushroom is a relaxing way to unwind at the end of the workweek. Al fresco dining on a recent Friday night at the East Colonial location featured perfect weather. If you’re not comfortable with indoor dining during the pandemic, or you want to bring your dog to dinner, the patio’s the perfect place.
This year, alcohol sales are up five percent at Mellow Mushroom and the new, proprietary cocktail recipes meet customer demands. The restaurant’s full bar of beer, wine, cocktails and house-made non-alcoholic beverages is designed to pair with the its famous stone baked pizza and other menu items.
We started the meal with cocktails. Fans of Mellow Mushroom’s Jingle Juice, which was previously only a seasonal item during the holidays, will be happy to know it is now a permanent menu item. Our friendly server, Nae, told us it was made permanent due to its popularity with customers. Now known as Jam ’n Juice ($8.50), the drink is a bright red blend of bourbon, aperol, cherry, cranberry and lime. The Mule it Over ($8.50), which had a strong herby flavor, featured Ketel One, ginger beer and fresh lime.
Mellow Mushroom recently introduced six new beverages, including more margarita options and sure to be fan favorite, the Peach Buzz, made with Jameson Irish Whiskey, Monin Peach Puree, fresh lime, topped with 18.21 Earl Grey Bitters and garnished with a custom sugar blend made with Earl Grey tea and citrus. 18.21 Bitters is a fellow Atlanta-based company that is owned and operated by Missy and Kristin Koefod. Missy’s history with Mellow Mushroom dates back to when she was a college student and worked as a delivery driver for one of the Atlanta restaurants.
Three new versions of Mellow’s classic RB Margarita are now available, with choice of Blanco, Reposado or Anejo tequila. All three versions are made with Casamigos Tequila and Bauchant Orange Liqueur, a boutique cognac-based liqueur from France.
The new cocktails feature specialty garnishes from Las Vegas-based gourmet garnish company, Dress the Drink™, and all of the menu items use natural juices, syrups, and no artificial ingredients.
Other signature cocktails include:
- Sunset in Paradise – Bacardi Superior Rum, Monin Coconut and Pomegranate Syrups, Pineapple and Fresh Sour, garnished with Toasted Coconut and a Fresh Pineapple Wedge
- Golden Goose – Grey Goose Vodka, Monin Golden Turmeric Syrup, Fresh Lemon, Pineapple and Fever-Tree Ginger Beer, garnished with Pineapple Leaves & a Fresh Lemon Wheel
- Jam N’Juice – Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Aperivio, Cherry, Cranberry, and Fresh Lime, garnished with a Black Cherry & a Fresh Orange Wedge
- Mule It Over – Ketel One, Fever-Tree Ginger Beer, and Fresh Lime
Being at Mellow Mushroom, it seemed only appropriate to order a mushroom dish. So, we tried the Stuffed Portobello, a special “Local to Your Mellow” item on the menu. One of the lower-calorie (260 calories) choices on the menu, it was a nice light dish to start off the meal. Stuffed with artichoke hearts, cheese, tomatoes and spinach, the mushroom cap was served on a bed of greens and drizzled with balsamic glaze. For $7.99, it was a small portion, but tasty, nonetheless. It’s a great option for vegetarians.
Next up we had a half-order of the Sweet Thai Chili Oven-Roasted Wings ($5.99). The five flats (no drums) came with a choice of blue cheese or ranch (we got both) along with carrots and celery. The sauce had a nice kick without being too fiery. The wings stood up well on their own without really needing the ranch or blue cheese. However, dipping the wings in the dressing provided an additional layer of flavor that I enjoyed.
We took advantage of a Yelp offer for free pretzel bites with any pizza order and chose the Funky Q Chicken thin-crust pizza. Nae warned us the pizza would take about 45 minutes, but it was worth the wait. The crust was crisp, exactly the way I like it. I am not a fan of floppy, foldable pizza (sorry, New Yorkers). We ordered the small size ($13.99), which is just right for two people — if you are also having appetizers, drinks and dessert.
The pretzel bites ($8.19) tasted more like pizza bread than pretzel bread. A heaping portion was generously dusted with parmesan and served with beer cheese and marinara sauce.
We ended the meal with Mary Jane’s Triple Chocolate Brownie ($3.19) because I needed my daily chocolate fix. It satisfied the craving.
Mellow Mushroom has three Orlando-area locations: East Orlando (11680 E. Colonial Drive), Winter Park (2015 Aloma Ave.) and I-Drive (10725 International Drive).