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Sunday Dinners: the Mermaid Inn

November 8, 2011

I love Sunday dinners out.  For me, it is a relaxing way to end the weekend on a great note.  And not having to push through throngs of diners or fight someone for a cab is a nice change of pace.  Why isn’t it nice to be able to hear the conversation you are having or have the waiter’s more or less undivided attention?

By Sunday dinner time, my poor stomach and I have already endured quite a lot 72 hours prior.  It is no surprise then that the Sunday supper is usually a lighter and more seafood focused affair.  And The Mermaid Inn in East Village is one place that never fails to disappoint and fulfills exactly what my stomach had in mind.

One of my favorite items on the appetizer menu (besides the oysters obviously) is a plate of pan-seared calamari with shiitake mushrooms, feta and frissee, dressed lightly in lemon juice and olive oil.  The slightly unusual combination works wonders and is a big enough to share.  On the off occasion that the salad comes slightly underdressed as it did last time for me, just ask for a wedge of lemon and it will perk the dish right up.

For the entree course, I like to order a few things to share because the portions are quite generous here and because, well, sharing is caring right?  The spaghetti with salad on top might possibly be the most understated dish at Mermaid Inn.  Buried not far beneath the pile of arugula is a bowl of underwater treasures of calamari, shrimp and mussels swimming in a spicy and garlicky tomato sauce.  The spaghetti might not be the most expertly made I have ever had but the flavor of the dish won me over.  Plus a thick crouton slathered in roasted garlic can never hurt.   

A sleeper on the menu is the Mermaid fish tacos.  Even though I generally prefer my fish tacos grilled, not fried, these were surprisingly light.  The creamy slaw and the pickled jalapeno add great texture and flavor to the dish.

One unique thing about The Mermaid Inn is that it doesn’t really have a dessert menu.  Now, before you start panicking, they will have whisked everything away and stealthily placed a little cup of chocolate pudding in front of you along with a fish fortune teller.  It’s always so amusing to see how everyone, myself included, suddenly stop and stare intensely at the little piece of plastic on their palm with breath abated.  After what seems to be a fate sealed, settle into that cup of chocolate pudding and you will find a surprisingly satisfying end to a meal.

The Mermaid Inn | Multiple locations at East Village, Greenwich Village and UWS | http://themermaidnyc.com

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