This was where we dined on our final night in New York City during our winter holiday this year (I know I’m way behind schedule in the review, but don’t worry – it was so memorable that I’m sure I won’t miss a thing). We had to go a little off the beaten track for this one compared to previous dining destinations, but it proved well worth it and you needn’t worry about doing the same (although there are three locations across the city, so you can always just select whichever one is most convenient – I’m confident of a high standard across the board).

Servers are enthusiastic, friendly and knowledgeable, and are practically falling over themselves to give you details of dishes you enquire about (this is a good thing!). On the back of their advice, we plumped for what ended up being delicious salt cod croquettes (well-seasoned and made using high-quality ingredients), and innovatively-served lobster pieces in an escargot plate, which came with supremely flavoured parsley butter and grilled rustic-style bread. While the venue is known for its oysters, served in a variety of ways, there are choices to please everyone, from tuna and gazpacho to tacos and skate.

It was difficult to know how to top that, but in the end we both went for the blackened catfish. And what a success – intense, unusual, and tons of flavour from this fish that’s little-found in restaurants where we live. What with this and the crayfish butter, two glasses of Mosel Riesling (probably the best wine on this American trip), and the unlimited iced water on tap, we were as full as could be by the end of the meal. I joked to my husband that it was a good job the Mermaid Inn did not offer desserts (despite my being a proper dessert lover), as I would not have had room for one.

However, a tiny one was thrown in as a bonus – with each of our (complimentary!) espressos (…they must have liked our accents or something…) came a miniature chocolate fondant (predictably, regardless of allegedly “not having room for dessert”, I managed to make room in my pudding stomach for mine anyway). The total bill was $97 for two, which some might say seems a little dear – but to us it seemed reasonable for the perfect food, attentive service, and quirky addition of a Chinese fortune teller fish at the end of the meal. We would definitely return.

We visited The Mermaid Inn at 568 Amsterdam Avenue, 10024 NY. You can also visit the locations at 79 Macdougal Street (10012) and 96 Second Avenue (5th/6th; 10003).