New restaurant on Fleming is a destination for seafood lovers
By Chance Parker
The Thirsty Mermaid swam to our island in firm possession of style. It’s got a hip vibe that permeates the seafoam blue surroundings. Like a summer day trimmed in chrome, the Thirsty Mermaid strives to create an accessible, friendly, and cool seafood destination. She’s well on her way to becoming a local hot spot.
The Thirsty Mermaid’s strength lies in the variety of her offerings. From a wide selection of by-the-glass wines and craft beer, to four different types of oyster plates nightly, to a myriad of daily specials for every course, she offers diners a wide palate with which to paint their own unique experience.
We began our experience with the ever-rotating ceviche du jour, which featured deep-water Red Shrimp on our visit. These decidedly exotic crustaceans, in a crimson shade I have personally never seen, were lightly, not overpoweringly citrusy, and expertly seasoned. A light cumin note added the perfect amount of flavor and interest to the dish.
We moved on to the fried oysters, beautifully presented, in the shell, on a bed of rock salt. These treats from the sea achieved the genuinely crunchy texture I so often find lacking in the same item elsewhere especially when paired with a stone-ground mustard aioli. Note of caution: the oysters come with the server’s ardent “very hot” warning; give them a moment to cool. (I love a dish that comes with its own feat of will!)
For our main course, we attempted to cover the large spectrum of the Mermaid’s entrees. We settled on the seared diver scallops and the Italian burger. I wouldn’t expect a specialty seafood restaurant to have an entire burger section on the menu, but the reasoning lies in the chef-inspired elements. The Italian, topped with arugula and crispy prosciutto, sat on sauteed mushrooms and a homemade sun-dried tomato ricotta spread; you definitely will not be picking this two-hander up at any drive-through. And when the seared diver scallops arrived, we were first blown away by the gorgeous presentation, and then drawn back in by the exquisite aroma. The delicate crust on the very large scallops accompanied the snap of the corn relish on which it was served; as did the artistic dots of creme fraiche which supremely suit the rich, cool interior of the shellfish. A true work of art, the seared diver scallops are not to be missed.
The Thirsty Mermaid is new to our waters, and should be given some time to fully adjust to and thrive in her surroundings. Go to Monica, behind the bar, for a starter glass of wine, or a tangy Floridian Hefeweizen, as well as any questions you might have about the day’s offerings, and allow yourself enough time for a full dining experience.
The Thirsty Mermaid is a sister restaurant to Antonia’s and Blackfin Bistro, both in Key West.
521 Fleming St., Key West
Open Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.