Curiosity took us out to The Mermaid Inn to try oysters for the first time. Their happy hour for oysters, at $1 each, seemed like a pretty good deal in comparison to the steeper prices seen elsewhere. After waiting close to an hour for a seat, the waitress sat us down by a small, dimly lit table with 5 minutes to spare before the happy hour ended. Frantically, the kind waitress took down our happy hour order of 10 oysters to start, saving us from the usual $2.50-2.75 price per oyster. As we waited for our oysters to arrive and for our main entree to come, the lobster sandwich with old bay fries, we could not help but to notice the how packed the restaurant was. Inside was nicely decorated, although very hard to tell due to how packed the restaurant actually was for just a typical weekday evening. The table next to us, only about a foot away, seemed utterly too close, so close that we overheard their conversation filled with weekend plans, trips to the nearby museums, and tourist attractions.
The plate of oysters came out and were perfectly aligned in a circle, placed over a bed of ice with lemon, butter, and chunky salsa. Since it was the first time we were trying raw oysters we had no idea what to expect. We tried it with a squeeze of lemon juice and some of the salsa, and, well, it was an interesting taste, an acquired one, to say the least. It was salty, but the sweetness of the salsa made it less overbearing, and the oysters themselves felt more like a squishy, moist piece of saltwater-flavored gum sliding down my throat. Perhaps oysters are not my thing, but we definitely understand how others may love it. After my fourth one, it felt like mindless eating – rather than tasting it, it was more of just finishing another because it was in front of us. Kind of like how we feel about beer. Since it was our first, and possibly our last, time trying oysters, we can’t comment on whether it was due to the type of oyster we had (Chef’s Choice – Mermaid Cove) or if it was due to how it was prepared by the restaurant. However, if you enjoy just slurping down salty and chewy seafood, then oysters are a great choice (although I would prefer shrimp cocktails over oysters).
Now the main entree: the lobster sandwich.
We enjoy cooked lobster, although the fine line between steamed crab meat and lobster meat is never that clear to me. Nevertheless, we were surprised to see that the lobster sandwich was actually cold lobster, not hot or steamed, and we felt slightly disappointed. After slurping through five cold, seemingly rubber oyster meat, we were really anxious for hot lobster. Unfortunately, the menu did not comment that the lobster sandwich was more chilled at room temperature than cooked. As we took a bite of the sandwich, we were slightly confused by our emotions – on one hand we enjoyed the interesting taste of the seasoned cold lobster on the toasted brioche bun since the contrast of the cold meat and the warm bun was pretty good but on the other, the texture of the lobster and the added tartar sauce on the bun made the sandwich taste extremely…fishy, for a lack of better words. After you get through the tart aftertaste, the sandwich was pretty good, but at a hefty $28 we probably should have opted for the grilled atlantic salmon.
The saving grace of this meal: the old bay fries.
The old bay fries. Go to The Mermaid Inn and just order the old bay fries. These fries are fantastic. We made it a point, after being already filled by the oysters, to make sure that we finished the fries, if not anything else. They’re perfectly seasoned, slightly salty, and are neither too crunchy, soggy, or over-fried. With a large portion of fries, practically spread across the entire plate, the price did not seem to matter.
At the end of the dinner, we were given a complimentary serving of the most amazing chocolate pudding I have ever had (honestly) and a fortune fish that moves in the palm of your hands.
All in all, our experience at The Mermaid Inn was decent. We doubt we may dine there again, but we’ll definitely be stopping in time to time for a side of their delicious fries.
Overall Rating: 11.8/15
The Mermaid Inn
568 Amsterdam Ave New York, NY 10024