What’s the greatest danger of eating at a seafood bar? Oh you thought I was going to say bacterial infection? Ah ha ha ha ha, as if I’d be stopped by that (insert ironic link to obituary)! No, the greatest danger is that one person might order the lobster roll, inciting jealousy and bitterness from those who foolishly ordered something else.
Such was the case this evening, when out of the four diners I was somehow the only one to do the prudent thing and stick with the lobster roll at Mermaid Oyster Bar.
We started the meal with 18 east coast oysters, which were not named on the menu, though we didn’t care since they were $1 each during happy hour. The giant platter arrived, and the first thing I noticed was the hairnetted lemons (to hold back the seeds?), which were strangely mesmerizing. Ordering only 18 was clearly a mistake, as we quickly downed the very mild, succulent mollusks. Sorry, little dudes. Maybe god should stop making you so delicious!
Moving on, J ordered an oyster po boy sandwich and gouda hush puppies, while our friends both got the “lobsterpalooza,” which is a Sunday-only plate consisting of a small lobster, corn, potatoes, and cole slaw. The hush puppies were fine, I guess. I mean they weren’t really hush puppies in my Southern mind. Not light enough, and though I couldn’t really taste the gouda, knowing it was in there instantly demoted them. Plus, I didn’t really taste the onion. The fried oyster was similarly mundane if not respectable.
The real star, clearly, was the lobster roll. I’ve never seen a lobster roll presented on such a perfect, fluffy, crispy, and round [brioche?] bun. The old bay fries were sufficient, but the cole slaw wasn’t memorable. Mostly I was impressed not just by the amount of lobster in the bun but also the size of the individual chunks. I almost think I got more lobster than the people who ordered a straight-up boiled whole lobster. Usually a lobster roll taunts me with its seemingly perfect ingredients and casualness, but the proportion is always off. At the Mermaid Oyster Bar they’ve gotten the ratio just right.
Oh, and one other note: the service was excellent. I’d definitely go back.