Saturday, May 31, 2008

Restaurant Review - American Pie Pizza Company, 336 Moore Road, Ocoee, FL

Kid's Night Review: I like American Pie Pizza Company as they have lots on the menu that the whole family likes and it is not your typical pizzeria/Italian menu. Sure, you'll find the pizzas, wings, and calzones, but they come in unusual flavors such as the Ranchkin Calzone (one of my favorites) that comes with chicken, bacon, mozzarella, tomato and ricotta and is served with a side of ranch for $8.29. But, I'm here to talk about their Monday night Kids Night. Just by pure luck, Hubby had a work appointment on Monday night and the boys and I decided to go to American Pie (I had no idea it was Kids Night.) I found out that Kids get a free kids pizza for every adult entree ordered so I paid for one of the kids' pizzas ($4.25) -- still sounds good to me! For myself, I ordered the Greek Salad ($7.69), and ordered each boy the kid's pizza -- cheese for LB and black olive for BB. They actually have Cheese or Pepperoni as the kid options but BB asked for black olive instead and the counter order girl said sure. She handed me the large number to put at our table so the runners could find us with our order.

The boys had already run off to choose our booth based on the PS2 game that is featured. Each booth in the restaurant has an associated small flat-screen TV that plays a certain PS2 game. You can get the controllers just by giving your driver's license and then the kids can play while you are waiting. It can get pretty crowded on some nights and sometimes we don't get a booth, much to BB's chargrin, but since it was a Monday night (and, smartly, kid's night when a restaurant tries to get more people to come in) the boys had their pick. The boys started to play a PS2 wave runner game while I went up to get the drinks.

Raw pizza dough roundI wasn't interested in the PS2 game, so I watched the music videos 3 cups of pizza toppingsthat are featured on other large-screen TVs hung all around the restaurant. I watched a few songs by Daughtry and Matchbox 20 when one of the runners came by with a 3-cup holder for each of the boys. BB's had a cup with pizza sauce, another with cheese and the third with sliced black olives, while LB's had just the pizza sauce and cheese. He also brought a small round flat with raw flattened pizza dough on it. Huh? I asked what this was and he explained that on kid's night, kids get to make their own pizzas. Wow, cool! The boys were LB's finished raw pizzavery excited and LB yelled out that he decided he wanted black olives, too. The runner said he would bring back another cup of olives. The boys had a lot of fun spreading the saucBB's finished raw pizzae carefully over the dough and then adding the olives and cheese. Well, BB was careful with it. LB was good with the sauce and then just dumped a pile of cheese and olives in the middle of his pie. Another runner came by and picked up the pies to take them to the oven. She offered to take away the cups as well but both boys decided they wanted to eat the rest of their toppings, including slurping up the sauce. Oh well, no harm in that. LB was very excited and claimed he couldn't wait for his pizza to come. In fact, they didn't even finish their PS2 game and just talked about their pizzas and what they thought they were going to look like and taste like. Hmm, I'll have to start having them help me in the kitchen with dinner!

Greek SaladA short while later, my Greek salad came. It was a generous portion with two garlic bread knots on the side topped with big pieces of garlic and Parmesan cheese. The salad itself had chopped tomatoes, chunks of feta cheese, a pile of pitted Kalamata olives, and the house dressing on the side (I asked for no onions). I had to share half of one of my garlic knots with the boys while they waited, impatiently, on their pizzas. Their pizzas arrived and the boys dug in. I really think making it themselves helped because they both polished off their entire pizzas. I guess pride of workmanship makes one hungry. My Greek salad was delicious as usual with the crisp veggies and the bitingly tangy dressing. I BB's cooked Pizza MasterpieceLB's cooked Pizza Masterpiecelike to mix in the feta cheese with the dressing as it gives it more of a "Greek" taste that I like. It was too much for me (although I had no problem finishing the garlic knots) so BB offered to help me finish the last of the salad. It was a lot of fun, the kids were occupied and eager to eat, so I'll have to remember to come back the next time we are looking for a place to eat on a Monday night.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Restaurant Review - Mellow Mushroom, 2015 Aloma Avenue, Winter Park, FL

Mellow MushroomNo, it’s not an all-mushroom menu at Mellow Mushroom, as my oldest son envisioned as we headed to the restaurant on Aloma Avenue in Winter Park with Grandma and Grandpa. It’s actually a pizzeria although it’s hard to tell from the cute chalet-looking exterior with a large covered patio on the side. The patio had plenty of whirling fans above and looked like it might be okay, even in the summer. There are a few parking spaces around the actual restaurant itself with more parking available at the nearby shopping mall.

The interior of the space is bright yellow with reproductions of famous Masters paintings throughout featuring the two Mellow Mushroom mascots, who are mushrooms, of course. So think "Starry Night" with two mellow mushrooms hanging out viewing the stars. The rest of the d├ęcor is very subtly psychedelic including the motto of “Give Pizza Chance”. We were seated at a table by the small bar, near the booths that are on the raised level of the restaurant. While there is no children’s menu, our server brought the boys coloring pages and crayons to keep them busy.

After reaching the table, LB decided he needed to go potty so we followed the signs to the “Mellow Flushrooms” which had me chuckling. When we returned to the table, we perused the menu. Besides pizzas and calzones, there are also salads, hoagies, and appetizers, as well as mircobrew beers and wine. There is an emphasis on healthy and premium offerings such as pizza toppings like tofu, tempeh (another soy-based product like tofu), pesto, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and other fresh ingredients. There’s also a hummus appetizer and most of the hoagies are topped with sprouts.

We ordered drinks, including iced tea for BB and chocolate milk for LB. Grandpa tried one of the microbrew beers called Purple Haze - a wheat-based beer with raspberry tones. He liked it but wished it had more fruit flavor. I almost tried the “Monk in the Trunk” microbrew just because of the name, but decided I wasn't in the mood for a beer and ordered an iced tea.

We decided to try a small order of Parmesan Pretzels (3 for $4.25 or 6 for $7) and a small Greek Parmesan Pretzelssalad ($4.75) to start. The pretzels are more like breadsticks in the shape of pretzels. They were thick and doughy, basted with butter and topped with Parmesan cheese, and served with a warm marinara sauce. They were very filling and had enough flavor even without the sauce on the side. The Greek salad came with the house Esperanza dressing which is like a light Caesar-type dressing. The dressing perfectly complemented the fresh crunchy vegetables, big chunks of feta cheese and Kalamata olives that topped the salad. BB helped me with the salad while everyone tried the pretzels.

Mellow Mushroom pizzas range from 10 inches to 16 inches and are $7.50 for a small cheese up to $22.50 for a large Specialty pizza. Hoagies are around $4.50 for a half and up to $7.75 for a House Special pizzawhole. To try a little bit of everything, we ordered a small cheese pizza, a half ham and cheese hoagie, and a medium House Special pizza ($17.50) which is topped with pepperoni, sausaSmall Cheese Pizzage, ground beef, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, black olives, tomatoes, bacon, ham and extra cheese. Wow, when they brought the House Special pizza, it was completely loaded with meat and veggie toppings yet still had a generous Parmesan-topped crust border. Each slice was like a meal in itself and the dough is more bread-like than a NY-style crust. The cheese pizza was a perfect size for an adult or for two kids to share. Grandma, Grandpa and BB worked on the specialty pizza while LB and I shared the cheese pizza. The cheese was nice and stringy and the Parmesan coated crust really added to the flavor.
Ham and Cheese Hoagie
The ham and cheese sandwich, which was for me along with two slices of the cheese pizza, was on a toasted sub roll with thick slices of ham and cheese, generously topped with sprouts, and with mayo as the only dressing. I typically prefer thin-sliced ham so the thick-sliced was a little too "hammy" for me. Also, I would have liked more dressing, such as the Esperanza, so I probably wouldn't order a hoagie again. I did like how the sprouts added a nice crunchy texture, though.

Needless to say, we brought home leftovers, and will definitely be back for more.

Mellow Mushroom on Urbanspoon

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