The Mermaid Inn, Jan. 6, 2006

The Mermaid Inn
96 2nd Ave. (bet. 5th and 6th)

We had a very good meal at The Mermaid Inn to celebrate our friend, and regular dining out partner, Sue Anne's 30th bday.

Two things right off the bat upon entering: YUM, what a lovely, soft/fresh seafood smell wafting about in neither an intrusive nor offending but cohesive way.

Secondly, you can tell this is owned by the Beanstalk folks, who's other restaurant The Red Cat, is similar in vibe, lighting and sound level. I can't attest to either the fallen Pace or the still going strong The Harrison as I haven't been, but I have to assume that at least
the Harrison is similar as well.

I just feel so at home at both the Mermaid Inn and The Red Cat.

Anyway, we split a bunch of appetizers:

Mussels - average, not my favorite but certainly passable.

Fried Calamari (special) - especially good thanks to a healthy dose of salt. The roumalade was quite good as well.

Fried Clams - Wow. Another example of what the folks at these two restaurants do well - what my interpretation of Gray Kunz's term "push and pull" is - excellent layering of textures. This was crunchy and soft/mushy in just the right proportions. Yum. They were served with savoy slaw and spicy tomato butter.

Hurricane Harbor - Washington State
and another variety from Nova Scotia. I had the one from Nova Scotia and it was quite large and perfectly saline. Really good.

Old Bay French Fries - pretty good. The cocktail ketchup sauce was pretty good but didn't adhese to the fries very well.

I think next time when D. and I go by ourselves, I'll get the corn and crab chowder. Sounds great.

Entrees -

My wife had the lobster roll, which both of us thought was a poor version compared to what I've made at home. Really not a very good dish. I can't for the life of me realize why a) this is the most expensive item on the menu (ok, I know the food cost of lobster is high but...) and b) why people love this so much. Really the only disappointment of the night, but kind of a big one.

I ordered (as did Sue Anne and her mother) the crispy trout filet with was served sliced in half and criss-crossed and plated vertically on top of a celery root mash and scallion-tomato vinaigrette. The potatos were nice and slightly less creamy but similar to the Shirred Eggs at Deborah. The fish itself was similar to the texture of chicken parm at an old red sauce joint. This is not a bad thing at just helps to know that before going for it. Fairly simple but good dish.

Others ordered the spaghetti with shrimp and scallops (looked great) and a grilled whole dorade with spicy sicilian escarole, golden raisins and lemon. The fish looked lovely with its grill marks but I can't help but think it was slightly overcooked...a little gummy. This fish has a TON of bones, some remarkably small. I don't recommend this dish for those with little patience.

Served as dessert was a complimentary pudding that tasted exactly like a fudgsicle...if you've ever had one, you'll know what I mean.

Service was quite good. Never intrusive, pretty much there if you needed her. Solid all around. Even the coat service was impressive (7 big coats).

And oddly enough, they didn't add the parties of 6+ = 18% tip to the bill. Probably to her advantage in the long run.

I'd definitely look forward to returning, but I think a trip to the Harrison first is needed. Dinner wasn't as good as at The Red Cat, but solid.

Oh, and I drank a beer from their menu called The Fisherman Brew (I think). It was an American unfiltered lager that was very good.


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