The Mermaid Inn has always been known for it's amazing seafood selection - and actually, their lobster roll. Don't get me wrong, theirs continue to be delicious and one of my first stops for the famous sandwich. But, it's Mermaid Oyster Bar that recently opened in the west village that has now caught my attention. I have always been a fan of anything Mermaid Inn and hearing about the focal point of their new spot had me at oyster. Minus the outdoor space, the setting is similar (although smaller) to its other locations - a whitewashed, wooden interior creating a laid-back atmosphere. I have a feeling no matter the time of year you are sitting in here, you will actually always feel some sense of summer.
And their selection of raw oysters from both coasts is perfect for someone like me - a medium sized list with actual descriptions of the oysters. As much as I could try to pretend like I have already become an oyster connaisseur, I won't even begin. I do know it when I like them - and the ones at Mermaid Oyster Bar were all entirely fresh and delicious. I am a big fan of the Fanny Bays from Vancouver, described as "plump with cucumbery sweetness." Also from the west coast, the Kumamotos, "melony-sweet, plump, creamy," were so full of flavor that I didn't even touch the mignonette sauce. The crisp, refreshing Pemaquids from Maine, "bois salinity, icy waters," truly tasted as though they had just come out of the water. When oysters are this good, I have a hard time not ordering them in all shapes and forms. We also inhaled a delicious plate of fried oysters on a bed of sauteed spinach served with tartar sauce.
For another extremely refreshing dish, I highly recommend the local fluke ceviche. The fish is marinated in ground chilis, ginger, and a 3 crab sauce. The flavors are excellent and between the heat and spices, create an extremely cleansing feeling on a hot mid-summer evening. I also had to try their fish tacos as I had not seen this option previously on a regular Mermaid Inn menu (although I am now certain they are a special on Tuesday nights in the east village). Three tacos are served with tilapia, cabbage, pico de gallo, and crema. They actually remind me of my favorite fish taco recipe that I have made twice in the last month - and that is definitely a great thing since I have only been able to make them when in easy access to a grill. A side of the cole slaw was a perfect complement to the tacos and the rest of the seafood. I cannot seem to ever get enough slaw in the summertime either - especially when it is prepared with the right balance of vinegar and mayonnaise as done here.
It is always a comfort when the new locations of your old favorites hold to their very own style and traditions. And, as with true Mermaid Inn tradition, the Oyster Bar offers no dessert menu. Never fear, sweet-toothers! Without even asking or paying, a mini pot de chocolat with homemade whipped cream will arrive at your place along with a fortune teller miracle fish. I'm not sure which complimentary gift excites me more! However, on my outing to Mermaid Oyster Bar last week, I was sure that oysters and delicious seafood bring out the passion in me - a little red fish told me so.
Mermaid Oyster Bar
79 MacDougal Street
New York, New York 10012