Grub/Spirits Restaurant Reviews — 28 April 2011
A Restaurant Review: The Mermaid Inn

The Mermaid Inn
96 Second Avenue near 5th Street, East Village, (212) 674-5870
Getting There: 6 to Astor Place; F,V to Lower East Side-Second Avenue

With alternate locations on the upper west side and in greenwich village, the chain of The Mermaid Inns might be attempting to take over Manhattan. But if their citywide takeover doesn’t take, they may just have to settle for having a terrificly small eatery in the east village, which pairs savory seafood dishes with the intimacy and quaintness of a small town bistro. Where the restaurant might be short on red meat dishes, the place’s unmistakable charm and ambiance more than make up for it.

The restaurant features patio seating outside its front doors as well as an exterior garden in back for a delightful warm weather dining experience. Through the white painted french doors, the wooden tables create a casual dinner setting amongst a place that looks entirely more formal. But a nice pair of jeans and sneakers are perfectly acceptable inside, where the staff is completely welcoming and the menu is infinitely affordable. Just thinking about the tasty “littlenecks and pork belly ($11)” and the “salt crusted jumbo shrimp” ($13) is enough to make one’s mouth water.

The snack menu has a ton of fantastic options- from the “lollipop chicken wings” doused with blue cheese crumbles ($6) to the “shrimp corndogs” ($3 each), with tangy creole mustard and creamy cole slaw. We especially savored the “shishito peppers: ($6) with some fresh squeezed lemon juice and a liberal amount of sea salt. Sides like “lobster and truffle” ($9) macaroni and cheese and the “fried brussels sprouts” ($7), with bacon and macarona almonds, proved to be perfect sides to compliment the number of entree items.

We raved over the house maid “mermaid fish taco” ($3), ordering a couple at a time of the blackened tilapia, smothered with avocado and some lightly smoked jalapeno peppers. The “lobster sandwich” ($26) also proved exceptional, with tender lobster meat stuffed within a fresh, griddled bun and surrounded by salty French fries with old bay seasoning. The two dishes stuffed us without overwhelming our appetites aka, we were able to comfortably walk home without being carried out in a wheelbarrow. Needless to say, this was a highlight for us. The one menu regret that we continue to carry with us was the “braised short rib grilled cheese” ($17), served on sourdough bread with muenster cheese, onions, and cole slaw for a fantastic combination.

Red meat lovers might find options here a bit limited, and rightfully so, considering the restaurant’s name. But with a chicken and meat dish, along with a raw bar and fresh fish changing daily, The Mermaid Inn has a variety of options for everyone- and it legitimately is a place conducive to couples of any denomination. And while I might not drop by the place with four of my buddies for a night out, that didn’t stop Mr. (name drop) Penn Badgley and a male friend from stopping by for a meal while we were in the house. But the food was in fact good enough to bring us back, and as we always say, if it’s good enough for Gossip Girl, it’s good enough for LocalBozo.

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