I hope everyone enjoyed a brilliant July 4th weekend. The Macy’s fireworks show was amazing, especially the fireworks coming from the Empire State Building. I would have loved to be there in person, but happy to see them on television. I did however see the fireworks over the Long Island Sound that gave me all of the feels.

I am so happy we are getting back to some form of normal after that difficult year. I am back in action on some things and often discovering I like being home most of the time. I do not know if my staying at home is more or less after the pandemic. It is what it is.

As a means of “getting back to it” my Fab 5 crew came back together for our first indoor dining moment in over a year. Thank heavens we ended up at Mermaid Inn (@themermaidnyc, 570 Amsterdam Avenue, 212.799.7400, www.themermaidnyc.com) on the Upper West Side for what will now become my go-to spot for the summer.

Let’s not waste words on the obvious, being together, and let us get into the food. I missed Happy Hour hour lest all of my perfectly prepared Aperol spritzes would have been at a different price, but they were worth it.

I missed one appetizer but was right on time for shishito peppers with candied lemon and sea salt; sauteed broccoli rabe with chili flake and sea salt; yellowtail ceviche with yuzu, pink grapefruit, ancho chili, toasted garlic; and, my new best friend, point judith calamari salad with frisée, feta, cremini, and shiitake. That salad and an Aperol Spritz?! DONE!

Wait! Forgot about my house salad. Don’t get it twisted, I too was dubious at the moniker and its ingredients. However, it is the deftness by which it is put together and dressed that is the difference. Perfectly prepared with a bright, bright lemon citronette dressing. So salad plus calamari salad…plus an Aperol spritz! Done and DONE!

Then here come the mains…brace yourself. Nnenna and Raquel decided to be cute and split roasted atlantic salmon with swiss chard hummus, lemon-sumac cabbage & crispy shallots. I did not taste it but yum. Kate went in on a lobster roll (we went in on her fries) and Jessica got my second choice of cast iron buttered shrimp with burst tomatoes, garbanzo beans, kalamata olives & smoked paprika from the wood fired oven. Not an ounce of that butter was wasted.

And what did this queen dive into? Linguine and clams topped with peppery arugula and a broth of meyer lemon and aleppo pepper. Put up your lighters and wave them from side to side because this dish was ev-er-y-thang! I checked out of the conversation for a good 20 minutes savoring each and every bite. So now…house salad, calamari salad, linguine and clams and…an Aperol spritz! Done, done and DONE!

Since Mermaid Inn is between pastry chefs, dessert is gratis in the form of ridonculous chocolate pudding. Devoured in moments.

Another wonderful time with the crew. Glad to be back in action and to have done it at Mermaid Inn with exceptional service.