New York, NY 10024
The Mermaid Inn in the East Village has always had a solid reputation for a restaurant that knows how to prepare seafood and while I had never visited, I had it on my radar for quite some time. When a location opened up on the Upper West Side, I immediately enlisted a friend to go and try it.
The restaurant itself is wide open with a long bar covering the front that could be described as speakeasy-chic or evoking memories of turn of the century establishments. It's inviting & warm and during the summer, the whole front of the restaurant opens up and the place spills onto the sidewalk. I found the staff to be knowledgeable and friendly and the food delivers as promised. It is simple, clean, delicious and always allowas the fresh seafood to be the star of all their dishes.
The oysters are always fresh and smooth with varieties from both coasts available. For appetizers, I have a preference for the fried clams which are surprisingly light. The peekytoe gazpacho is a great summer treat providing coolness and comfort at the same time. The lobster sandwich (though the one at Pearl Oyster Bar is still a touch better), the salmon, and the whole fish special are good stand-by's for anyone. But, the most sublime, and my favorite dish so far is the spaghetti with a salad on top. The littleneck clams & mussels are cooked to perfection with their juices being soaked up by the spaghetti to infuse them with layers of flavor. Some chili flakes add a good spicy kick to balance out the sweetness and the salad offers some color and background for the dish as a whole There's not an overwhelming addition of butter or oil and the plate is simply following the restaurant's philosophy of letting the proteins speak for themselves. The meal always ends in good spirits since there is always complementary chocolate pudding and a fortune fish to tell you what lies ahead.