New on the dining scene in Key West is the Thirsty Mermaid. Recently opened by one of the partners at Blackfin Bistro, I was excited to check it out. I was less excited to find that they do not take reservations, and a wait meant standing on Fleming Street with no seats or beverages. We decided to go back on a slower night, and that turned out to be this past weekend.
We arrived and were promptly seated at our choice of tables for two. I chose (poorly) one in the window, where the tables are so small the chairs are placed along two sides, next to each other. It is ideal for sharing – no little plates needed! The menu looked interesting, so we jumped right in.
First order of business: wine. We ordered a bottle of Bruno Giacosa Arneis (delicious), as it is the part of the year that it is so hot any walking requires a refreshing beverage. In this case, white wine. We ordered several appetizers: Mussels, Oysters Rockefeller, and tuna carpaccio. The mussels ($12) are served in a coconut milk and lemongrass broth and slightly sweeter than expected, but delicious nonetheless. It is a fairly small portion, as I am used to seeing giant bowls of mussels elsewhere, but they were delightful.
Tuna carpaccio ($15) is one of my favorite dishes, and unfortunately, this version – although fresh and good – was a tiny portion. Frankly, for the price, I thought it was pathetically small. As a point of comparison, we often order the tuna carpaccio at Azur. Different seasonings, but still fresh tuna, and for the same price, the portion is twice the size. I don’t usually moan about portion size, as generally I will eat two appetizers and call it a meal, but it was absurd.
The Oysters Rockefeller ($12), however, were a reasonable portion. Four good-sized oysters topped with creamy spinach, cheese, and bread crumbs. Absolutely yummy.
Alas, we were still hungry and ordered an Asian burger ($13) topped with kimchi and sesame aioli. I’m not an aioli kind of gal (mayo doesn’t like me very much), so we got that on the side. The burger was good, as I would expect. After all, the burgers at Blackfin are the best on the island. Topped with tangy kimchi and served with a heaping portion of steaming hot fries, it was very satisfying.
Overall, the food was good, but prices seem high given the small portions of appetizers. We ended up spending $140 including tip, and that just does not seem like a great value. Would I go back? I would, under the right circumstances. But I know to avoid the apps and stick with the more reasonably sized (and priced) entrees.
Thirsty Mermaid is located at 532 Fleming Street, in Key West, and is open daily for lunch and dinner.