Dave’s mom was out of town, so his dad came in to the city to have dinner with us. We made reservations at a place we had been wanting to try for a while: The Mermaid Inn (the Upper West Side edition). My love for seafood, coupled with some great reviews from friends, made it a no-brainer.
While we waited for the food to arrive, some delicious crisp bread arrived. The accompanying butter came covered in a piece of parchment with the restaurant’s logo on it. Dave ordered a beer, and even it had a mermaid on it.
We ordered two appetizers to share: seared calamari, wild mushrooms, frisee, feta; and steamed mussels, aromatic shellfish broth. The calamari salad stole the show. It was superb, well seasoned, with perfectly cooked squid mixed with all the right stuff. The mussels were pretty generic, but tasty nonetheless. We didn’t partake, but they also have an extensive raw bar selection. Many people around us were happily slurping oysters.
I ordered the lobster sandwich, which comes on a brioche bun with a side of old bay fries. The sandwich exceeded my expectations: the bread was soft and flavorful, the lobster chunks were big and not over-saturated with mayo-based sauce (as is often the case), and the fries were crisp and delicious.
My father-in-law ordered the braised skate wing, cooked with pine nuts, fresh tomato, garlic, and saffron. It was served in a way I had never seen before: on the bone. The fish and the sauce were both quite flavorful, and I think he was pleased.
Dave ordered the shrimp po-boy which comes with coleslaw and old bay fries. He proclaimed it, “the best shrimp po-boy I have ever had.” When we got home he also said that the Mermaid Inn will likely become a neighborhood go-to. I wholeheartedly concur.
The only downside is that they don’t have a dessert selection. At the end of the meal, everyone is presented with this chocolate “mousse” and a fortune teller miracle fish. Taking the thin, red fish out of its plastic sheath brought back memories of getting them at candy stores and birthday parties when I was a kid. The fish was a great touch, but it wasn’t enough to distract me from the horrendousness that was dessert. I put the word mousse in quotes because it was more of a chocolate blob, not quite jello, but certainly made with too much gelatin in it to be called a mousse. It also seemed old. Not the best way to end an otherwise flawless meal. It would have been better to have had no dessert at all, just the fortune teller and the check.
We’ll definitely be back, and next time we’ll know to skip dessert.