The first contender out of our tissue box loaded with slice slingers was the Mellow Mushroom, a fairly massive chain known for psychedelic murals with a reputation for killer crust. Everyone in our intrepid crew had eaten Mellow Mushroom in some form in the past, at other locations or via delivery at an office gathering, or both. So yes, we had expectations. Namely that some pretty good pizza was in our future.
Brooke: Unfortunately, that was not to be.
Thomas: When the idea of Pizza Quest congealed, grease-like in the crevasses of my mind, I had thought one truth to be self evident. There is no bad pizza… only less good pizza. It is perhaps fortuitous then to be proven wrong so quickly. For on the very first pizza quest, we have discovered what I would consider #BadPizza. I’m pretty sure I’ve had Mellow Mushroom’s offering before, but it wasn’t a life changing taste experience so I couldn’t recall exactly when that might have been.
B: Walking into the LoDo location, which happens to be on Denver’s tourist-y 16th street, we found an identity crisis. In an open, modern space with clean lines and lots and lots of televisions for watching sports was one wall of funky colorful mushrooms. The crowd was largely small clusters of businessmen who threw their ties over their shoulders before tucking in.
T: The MM’s aesthetic seems to be what I would describe as a “Middle school level nudge-nudge wink-wink, hurr hurr drugs!!!” vibe. A far out dancing mushroom mascot who just wants to chill beckons you into the glass room, but as soon as you trudge down the stairs into the 50-shades-of-gray, stainless steel blasted dungeon AND FIND OUT IT’S ANOTHER FREAKING SPORTS BAR WITH 15 SCREENS OF FOOTBALL PLAYING… I realized we’d all been played. The Mellow Mushroom is the facade painted onto the wild west plywood frame propped up in front of yet another tedious hole where people who hate their lives escape into overpriced jugs of craft beer. Only here, they have doughy, undercooked, bland pizza to chase it with.
Service was great, I’ll admit, but the modern interior clashed heavily with the far out promise of otherworldly flavours that would fly my tongue magic carpet style across the multiverse. We picked out some interesting sounding pies (Brooke can fill you in on that part) and remained mostly unimpressed. They had some decent wings, but even they were hit with the 16th street tourist tax pricing, and I can’t recommend them.
B: We ordered a cheese as a base and two speciality pies — the Maui Wowie and the Magical Mystery Tour.
None of the pizza left much of an impression with us. The cheese was bland, apart from a sweet sauce and quite doughy. The Maui Wowie brought a little more flavor to the table, thanks to banana pepper and a pesto base but also struggled with dough-yness. The Magical Mystery tour offered the decent pesto base, but only sausage and mushrooms by way of topping. It was ultimately uninspired, and removed from the experience, it’s impossible to recall the flavors with any clarity.
But as Thomas noted, the one thing that was exceptional at the Mellow Mushroom was the service. Our server handled our large group as if we were but a table of two, plying us with recommendations, refills and extra plates aplenty.
T: Here’s my take: Think gooey, pizza-hut chain pizza style doughy crust that is a little undercooked, with stretchy cheese that is a little too salty… and throw on just-not-quite-enough admittedly interesting toppings, that just didn’t have enough punch to impress. I’m probably being a tad harsh, but I was seriously disappointed by this very first Pizza Quest. At least it didn’t cause me intestinal distress (I’m looking at YOU, Wazee Supper Club).
And if all of this detail has been too much, here’s our collective takeaway:
Do we recommend the Mellow Mushroom?
Or, as our resident Snap Judge, Thomas, put it: Walk 3 minutes in any direction, and find better pizza there. 0/1.