Place: The Mermaid Inn
Neighborhood: Upper West Side, 568 Amsterdam Ave. (between 87th St. & 88th St.)
The scoop: The Mermaid Inn is a popular seafood restaurant with three locations (Upper West Side, East Village and an oyster bar in Greenwich Village). On this unseasonably cold Saturday, we trekked to the Upper West Side location for brunch. We had a reservation at 11 a.m., but it wasn’t necessary since there were a good amount of empty seats when we arrived.
We were seated at the front of the restaurant near a closed garage-door-like gate. Every second the door opened, we felt a draft that made it difficult to relax. We were uncomfortably cold. Victoria asked the waiter to move us to the back room, and it wasn’t a problem. As we got up to walk toward the back, the hostess asked us if we were going to grab the bread basket. We consider ourselves to have a good sense of humor, but something about her tone wasn’t funny. We honestly weren’t sure if she was serious or not, so Victoria said, “Let me grab it.” She said she was joking, but it was pretty awkward.
The restaurant is kid friendly, and there were numerous families with babies and children at tables in the front and back of the restaurant. Both sections have plenty of tables and seating. The back of the restaurant was still cold, but it wasn’t as bad as the front. I guess they weren’t prepared for the low temperatures. They could have turned on the heat.
Bottoms up: The cocktails at The Mermaid Inn range from $11-$12. We didn’t order any drinks at brunch, but several people appeared to be enjoying theirs.
Chew on this: We thought their menu was pretty limited for brunch. We would have liked to have seen more options.
Rye Bread / Complimentary
It’s always nice to kick off brunch with complimentary bread, muffins, etc. We all thought the bread served at Mermaid Inn was some type of cinnamon raisin bread. We were way off. Stephanie took an unfortunate bite and found out it was rye bread. None of us like rye bread, and we were surprised they would serve it at brunch. Rye bread should be reserved for Reuben sandwiches.
Tres Leche Challah French Toast $12 / Strawberries & powdered sugar
I haven’t had French toast in a while, and when I saw the waitress bring it over to someone at a table next to us, I thought it looked well-presented so I wanted to give it a try. Lots of strawberries were on the dish and the bread was thick and moist, but it was extremely cold, which took away from its enjoyability. The toast was so cold, it tasted like it came right out of a fridge. I’m not sure why it was so cold, but they could have at least served warm syrup.
UWS Steak & Organic Eggs $15 / Grilled hanger steak, eggs any style, herb oil, onion rings. Add egg whites, $3
I had asked if I could get my eggs any style as scrambled egg whites, and I was surprised to hear the waitress tell me that she had to check if they could do this. This is something I ask for frequently and have never had a problem ordering this. I even told her I didn’t mind paying more, although I think $3 is a little steep for egg whites. In the end, they were able to do it. This dish was nothing special. The eggs were standard, and the steak was decent. It was cooked as I ordered it (medium rare) and the herb oil, which reminded me of a pesto, gave it a little flavor. The onion rings were the best part of the meal and one of our favorite parts of brunch, as we each had a piece. They were crispy and tasty.
Banana Buttermilk Pancakes $12 / Vermont maple syrup & powdered sugar
As Victoria stated, the French toast dish looked good, but I had recently had a mountain of delicious French toast at Good, and I didn’t want to order it again. I wasn’t in the mood for eggs, so I settled on the pancakes. First off, if you’re calling the dish “Banana Buttermilk Pancakes,” I expect there to be bananas in the pancake batter. There was none. Secondly, if buttermilk is used in the batter, the pancakes should come out pretty thick and fluffy. These were not. They did a good job masking the flat pancakes with lots of fresh banana and strawberries ON TOP. The pancakes resembled and tasted like microwaveable pancakes. I make much better pancakes at home. I’ve had a lot of sweet dishes in our first year of the blog, and sadly, this was one of the worst.
Chicken & Apple Sausage $7
If you check in through Yelp or Foursquare, Mermaid Inn gives you a free side dish. We jumped on this offer. Since two of us had sweet dishes, we wanted some meat for our side. Two juicy sausages were served. We were able to cut them up and share. The sausage had a subtle taste of apple. It wasn’t the best-tasting sausage, but it wasn’t bad either. This side was better than our entrées.
The final bite: Although The Mermaid Inn is family friendly, with its limited brunch menu and disappointing dishes, it’s not very brunch friendly. Don’t waste your time.
Reviewed by: Jen, Stephanie and Victoria