The Salty Mermaid in North Wildwood just finished up its first summer season, and by the looks of things, it’s off to a great start.

“It’s been fabulous,” Co-Owner Sondra Barbour says of the reception.

The first restaurant for both Barbour and her brother and business partner, Eric Persson, The Salty Mermaid is their contribution to the year-round restaurant options available in Cape May County.

“We felt like the island could use another restaurant that gave the residents and vacationers another option,” says Barbour, of the year-round establishment. “We love the beach. We’re really excited.”

They should be. The Salty Mermaid is, at first glance, visually appealing, compelling guests to come on in, at the very least to check out the renovations on what was once a local bar.

From the outside, you can catch a glimpse of the style on play throughout The Salty Mermaid with stained glass in shades of blue and a large sign with the requisite mermaid.

Inside it’s all light and air, with blue painted shiplap contrasting white walls, and splashes of lime green emphasizing the proximity to the sea. A long, sleek bar made with blue and green recycled glass and touches of beach décor — think rope chandeliers, mermaid paintings, and other nautical elements — only add to the vibe.

It’s perfect for large parties too, with a series of long tables aligned to form a row down a portion of the restaurant. Called ‘The Gathering Tables’, this cluster of high tops is ideal for groups. And the real lifeguard boat suspended above them helps to give the space an almost underwater feel.

Outside on the brand new deck is another full bar with a three-part sealife mural commissioned by the restaurant owners, as well as some flat screen TVs, perfect for watching football this fall.

While The Salty Mermaid looks beautiful, it’s completely laid back — guests are welcome to come in off the beach and just get comfortable.

The Food

With local Chef Ivan Medina in the kitchen, along with a well thought-out menu, the food at The Salty Mermaid lives up to the decor.

Consider the roasted beet salad: An Arcadian spring mix with oven-roasted beets, candied pecans and goat cheese crumbles with a house balsamic vinaigrette ($12). A regular menu item, it’s one of their top sellers. Between that and the crab and corn chowder, made with big chunks of crab, you could get too full to continue. Don’t make that mistake.

Before you fill up, try the crabcake sandwich, which pairs a broiled jumbo lump crabcake with a mango lime sauce served with lettuce, tomato, and red onion on a brioche roll ($15) or the crispy wings with bacon jam ($10). That’s right, bacon jam.

And while you can find entrée items like a hanger steak (certified angus beef with peppercorn demi-glaze served with herb roasted potatoes and a daily vegetable for $26), blackened cod (blackened Alaskan cod with honey-kissed brussel sprouts and horseradish grits for $23), or baked lobster cav and cheese (fresh lobster, cavatappi pasta, house IPA cheese sauce and toasted bread crumbs served in a cast iron skillet for $24), you can just as easily indulge in a classic — and tasty — burger. The certified Hereford beef burger is topped with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red onion and a roasted garlic aoli and served on a brioche roll ($14).

Vegetarians will be happy about the Beyond Burger, a 100 percent plant-based burger served with lettuce, tomato and red onion on brioche ($16).

The deck features a more limited menu, with some overlapping items. If you’re just looking to snack, try the large Bavarian pretzel. The super-sized pretzel is served with horseradish mustard, IPA cheese sauce and vanilla cinnamon cream cheese ($10).

The Drinks

“We want people to come sit and feel comfortable at the bar,” says Barbour. “We’re looking forward to really getting to know those who live here year-round in the fall and winter, and being part of the community.”

And with 20 beers on tap, there’s no place better to get to know someone.

While the selection of draught beers includes some basics like Coors Light and Bud Light, as well as some standards like Stella Artois, Guinness, and Blue Moon, most of the selection pays homage to local breweries. The current selection features 7MIPA and Beach Bubbles from 7 Mile Brewery in Rio Grande; Bell Buoy and Angry Osprey from Slacktide Brewing in Cape May Court House; 800’ Pils and 107’ IPA from Hidden Sands Brewing in EHT; Anglesea Red Ale from Tuckahoe Brewing; The Bog Cranberry Shandy from Cape May Brewing in Cape May, and more. Prices for drafts range from $3.50 to $7. Even better, for those who can’t decide, flights of four beers are available for $8.

In addition to the beer selection, The Salty Mermaid has some tasty cocktails. Try the ‘On the Beach’, made with Deep Eddy Peach Vodka, cranberry and fresh orange juice ($8); the ‘Pineapple Express’ made with Misunderstood Ginger Spiced Whiskey, pineapple juice and coconut water ($10); or the orange or grapefruit crushes, a pair of vodka based drinks made with freshly squeezed orange and grapefruit juices, respectively.

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