Growing up in Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar has been one of those places where our family visited frequently. Jhaobon, Poushee, Dhanshiri were embedded in our everyday menu. However, as of recent, Cox’s Bazar has become a place of dishes beyond the regular maach bhaat.
Mermaid has become a must visit now due to the ambience their locations provide. Whether it’s their Beach and Eco Resort or their Cafés, they promise to provide top notch ambience and service. During my visit to Cox’s last week I finally managed to drop by two of their branches: Mermaid Café Chill n Grill in Kolatoli and Mermaid Beach Resort in Marine Drive Road.
My first visit was to the Beach Resort where a bunch of my friends and I decided to stay for the sunset (ditching Inani Beach). Upon entering, you’ll feel like it’s more of a forest in a secluded area compared to other restaurants in Kolatoli Road. The entire place is lit up by candles and lanterns giving you a cozy and romantic feeling. Once we reached the restaurant of the Resort, we were amazed at the view! It had props such as boats, a turtle cave, surfboards, swings and more. To top that off, you had a beach view which could be enjoyed sitting at their outside seating area.
Their menu consisted of various segments including seafood, duck, quail, vegetarian, beef, desserts and drinks. Since I already had my fair share of prawns, lobsters, and dried fish at the Bengali restaurants, I opted for a simple Margherita Pizza and a Grilled Chicken. My friend suggested that the Lemonade here is a must try so despite a hefty price, I chose to splurge on the drink too.
It took about 20 minutes for them to serve and I am still trying to get over how good the food tasted here. The Margherita pizza had both mozzarella and parmesan used in it giving it a very cheesy and nutty taste. The tomato base infused with olive oil went well with the cheese overall giving me a tangy taste. The crust was thick and yet the slight burns gave it a rustic taste. They had served chilli flakes, chilli and a garlic mustard sauce alongside the pizza and surprisingly, it was the kick of the mustard sauce that I found the best to go with the pizza.
As for the Grilled Chicken, it came with sautéed vegetables and a mashed potato. What brought a smile on my face was the vibrant color of the plate and the presentation. If more restaurant owners would step up their presentation game, customers would happily pay more for the dish. Coming back to the taste of the entire dish, the sautéed veggies might have been slightly overcooked but the star of the dish, the grilled chicken, definitely made up for it. It was charred perfectly yet had a sweet glazing and the chicken itself was very juicy. The mashed potato also had some mozzarella in it giving it a very creamy and rich texture. The lemonade was what you say “Simple er moddhe gorgeous”. With ice cubes made of the lemonade itself, the drink was really refreshing and the bamboo stick gave the drink a very nice touch. I returned home with a happy heart and stomach that day.
That very night we visited the Mermaid Café as it was close to our hotel and I was craving their Grilled Chicken again. We also ordered a Mushroom Soup and two lemonade. However, this time we were slightly bumped at the presentation. Gone were the vibrant plate and banana leaf. Served in white basic plates came the chicken, burnt vegetables, and weirdly presented mashed potato. In terms of taste, the chicken was definitely the same: succulent and smoky but the mashed potato had no creaminess or the use of any cheese. The Mushroom Soup was quite decent but I would have preferred it having more cream and the bread, toasted. The drinks were the same as of Beach Resort, so we were pleased with that. The ambience of Mermaid Café was quite nice at night with a candlelit setting. But they definitely have room for improvement in terms of cleanliness.
I don’t know how but the next day we wound up at Mermaid Café for a light snack. I decided to go back to ordering a Margherita and regretted it so bad! The pizza was nowhere close to the one I had at the Beach Resort; neither in terms of the look nor the taste. The dough was undercooked, the base under seasoned and the look sloppy.
While the prices are quite on the expensive side and the ++ doesn’t help the wallet either, I would highly recommend anyone visiting Cox’s Bazar to drop by Mermaid Beach Resort during evening. I know a lot of tourists choose to go to the Café instead of the Resort due to the location but in spite of having the same menu, Mermaid Beach Resort provides food and service which is a hundred times better. Honestly, I have never felt so at ease in any other restaurant of Bangladesh as I did here.