Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Mermaid Tavern – Tampa, FL

Seminole Heights seems to be the emerging foodie scene in the Tampa area – with the Refinery, Rooster & the Till, Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café, the Mermaid Tavern, and the Independent.  I’ve been recommend to visit all these places, but so far the only one I had been to before last night was the Refinery (which I highly recommend!)  The rest are on my must-try list.  Last night, Lance and I checked out the Mermaid Tavern. 
From the outside, it doesn’t really look like much – if I hadn’t heard of it before I probably wouldn’t have stopped in.  Inside, it has an eclectic and slightly nautical feel.  There are mismatching artsy chandeliers (including some funky ones that looked like jellyfish) and columns wrapped in rope.  It was dimly lit and a little tattered like a dive bar, but the crowd was mostly young hipsters.
The drink specials were outlined on a large chalkboard behind the bar.  Lance ordered the Two Brothers Hopcentric Double IPA & I got the Saint Somewhere Jasime Saison.  The food is ordered right at the bar – Lance wanted to try the Brisket Poutine, but unfortunately they were out.  Instead, he ordered the New Tavern Burger and I had the O.M.G. Grilled Cheese (O.M.G. stands for Oysters, Mushrooms & Goat cheese!)
It was pretty crowded (it was Saturday night) but we did manage to find ourselves a table.  Lance really loved his IPA – and mine was different than any beer I’ve had before.  Saint Somewhere is a local Tarpon Springs brewery – my beer was fermented with jasmine tea and was slightly tart. 

I enjoyed my sandwich – it was definitely a unique take on a normal grilled cheese.  I like that they took a risk and made it with unusual ingredients – the oysters, mushrooms, and goat cheese were combined with Welsh cheddar and roasted asparagus on thick crispy sourdough bread.  The hand-cut fries were spectacular.  I did see pictures of their truffle fries on Yelp though, and if their normal fries were that good, I’d imagine their truffle fries topped with shaved parmesan would be to-die-for. 
Lance’s burger was good, but not worth $13.  It was a little small, and the pretzel bun tasted more like a normal hamburger bun.  Although I’m sure the grass-fed meat was high quality, it was cooked well-done rather than medium. 
It has better food than most bars, but I’d emphasize going for the drinks.  They had a pretty unique selection (no Bud Light here).  It seems like it’s more of a late-night hangout…we’ll probably try one of the other Seminole Heights restaurants next time and just head here for drinks afterwards. 

The Mermaid Tavern is located at 6719 N Nebraska Ave, Tampa, FL 33604 and is open from 5pm to 3am every day. 

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