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  • Co. Cheese is an expat institution that’s been open for a good four years or so now. They do ‘gourmet’ grilled cheese sandwiches in an environment that’s cozy, friendly and has a shaggy dog, neighborhood quality too it. Gets crowded, but always feels relaxed. The tiny ‘Melt Bar’ is great for lunch, but even better for a gluttonous Friday night dinner with a few good friends, a beer or four and one too many shots of whiskey. 

    After a recent visit the good news, off top, is that it’s as good as when it opened. Better, even. The selection of grilled cheeses is more extensive than ever with upwards of 25 available at any given time.

    I’ve yet to have one that hasn’t satisfied me, but I do have favorites. The Pepperoni, Sundried Tomato Pesto, Goats Cheese, Parmesan and Mozzarella is always a winner. Another, obscenely packed with Tortilla Chips, Refried Beans, Fried Chorizo, Jalapeno Salsa, Avocado and Cheddar, is a dirty, messy concoction that has lingered on my mind far longer than any sandwich should. That’s not even as wild as things get. You’ll also find grilled cheese-ified variations on Chinese dishes like hong shao rou and interpolations of Thai green curry.

    When I feel like something a bit more classic, the Canadian Bacon, Aged Cheddar and Tomato Chutney, a little further down the menu, is a go-to, as is the sandwich that is literally just packed with Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese. It’s simple, evil genius. If you’re into spice, they have a selection of hot sauces for greedily dredging you sandwich through, too. Don’t miss out on those.

    Tldr; they do loads of grilled cheese sandwiches here, and they’re pretty much all killer. It’s RMB 50 for a regular (three pieces) and RMB 65 for a large (four pieces), the latter of which will fill you up.

    Drinks are pretty reasonable, with wines available by the glass, China-brewed craft beers like Jing A and Slow Boat available for RMB 50 and some killer Bloody Marys. Along with a few milk-and-cereal cocktails that I am yet to try, their signature drink is a shot called a pickleback, and its imperative that you order a round of them. Literally just a shot of whiskey followed by a second shot of house-made pickle juice, the brininess of which immediately cuts the burn of the whiskey. If that sounds incredible to you, rest assured it’s as good as it sounds. If it sounds awful, then I feel bad for you, and I’m sorry that we can never be friends.

    It’s rare that somewhere combines such satisfying, pure comfort food with a genuinely welcoming, relaxing atmosphere. You can make friends here. There should be more places like this in Shanghai.  

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SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.

  • British

    Michael Russam, from Leeds, England, first arrived in China to live in Wuhan, before coming to Shanghai to work in copywriting and marketing. He is particularly interested in regional Asian cuisines, and when he can, travelling to find them. Other hobbies include debating the merits of Shanghai dive bars and burger deals.
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