The Mermaid Inn
570 Amsterdam Ave (at 88th St)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 799-7400
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Area: West 80s
Entree Price: $15-20
You'll find that when times are tough its a lot easier to get into restaurants that were once off-limits without a reservation. Case in point - The Mermaid Inn on the Upper West Side. Where once there were long lines, this Friday evening tables lay in wait, even at the height of the dinner rush.
After a short five minute stint at the bar where we enjoyed a tasty pomegranate margarita ($12) it was off to our seats in the main dinining area. The space itself has a nice nautical feel with lots of natural wood that looks as if it's been weathering the elements. The brass mermaids on the walls also provide a nice touch.
You'll want to start off with some oysters on the half-shell. We sampled the Duxberry variety from Cape Cod ($24/dz). They arrived perfecty chilled, nice and plump, and with a wonderful briny flavor. You'd have to travel to Massachusetts for anything fresher. And you'll probably want a dozen just for yourself. The Seared Calamari ($10) is another winner. It's actually more of a salad then traditional calamari with tender rings of squid mixed with frizee, wild mushrooms and feta. While it may sound like an odd combination, it actually works well and had us fighting for the last forkful. And what would a night out at a seafood restaurant be without fried clams ($11). These were nice and crisp with a simple house tartar sauce for dipping.
Entrees were somewhat less impressive. Grilled salmon ($21) with broccoli rabe and couscous was a bit skimpy and the salmon somewhat fishy. A grilled flatiron steak ($22) ordered "medium" arrived too bloody for our liking. But after a bit more time on the grill turned out to be a fine cut of meat, tender and tasty. And that roasted garlic butter is a killer. Just keep slathering it on. Heaven! Also on the menu; shrimp po-boys and a lobster sandwich on a grilled brioche bun.
Desserts are pretty much non-existent, except for a small complimentary cup of homemade chocolate pudding with a dollup of whipped cream. Don't pass it up. It's decadent and one of the best parts of the meal. The free fortune teller "Miracle Fish" is also a neat little surprise.
Review By: Thomas Rafael