I'm long overdue to write about Mermaid Inn, one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants. I've been a fan of Mermaid for years and was so excited to find a location close to my apartment on the Upper West Side. I can safely say I am at Mermaid at least once a week.
The Mermaid Inn is a cozy seafood restaurant that screams New England comfort. Sea-inspired photographs decorate the wooden paneled walls and tea light candles subtly illuminate the room. You may even spot a portrait of JFK and Jackie in the corner. Like I said, a New England feel.
One of my favorite aspects of Mermaid Inn is their generous happy hour, which takes place daily at the bar from 5-7pm. East Coast oysters are a $1, specialty cocktails are $7, and then small snacks like fish tacos are $3 per piece. There are also wines by the glass and beers for $6. If you can elbow your way to the bar, sip on the Chilly Margaret cocktail (their take on a margarita) or the Aperol Spritz and slurp down the Naked Cowboy oysters with a squeeze of lemon and a dollop of mignonette sauce.
If you're in the mood for more substance, you can't go wrong with the Tuna Crudo, a generous portion of yellowfin raw tuna with avocado, jalapeno, lime, and salt or the Lobster Knuckles Escargot, lobster meat broiled with parsley and bread crumbs, and served with a slide of garlic bread to sop up the au jus. One of my favorite appetizers is the Calamari Salad. This is not your regular overly-fried rubbery squid; rather this dish features seared calamari with feta, frisee, and cremini and shitake mushrooms. I'm always amazed by the combination of this salad and I love the unexpected umami flavors.
For dinner, you can't go wrong with the specials. My last visit included seared scallops with roasted duck breast, sweet potatoes, and a blackberry puree. I hope this special turns into a menu staple. I also love the Lobster Sandwich--a buttery brioche overcome with succulent lobster meat and served with Old Bay fries. If you want a pasta-based entree, the Spaghetti with Salad on Top is a lovely take (and hefty portion) on fra'diavolo.
Mermaid Inn also offers an array of sides. I love the simplicity of the charred Shishito Peppers or the Staub dish full of Truffle Mac & Cheese. The Fried Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Marcona Almonds are also a treat.
After you're done dining, make sure to read your fortune with the little red fortune fish and savor the complimentary chocolate pudding cup. Next time you're in New York City, you can visit one of the three outposts throughout Manhattan; East Village, Greenwich Village, and Upper West Side.