Over the past two weeks I have had two overseas visitors in town, one from Australia, the other from Germany, both of whom like their beers and pub grub, they had heard of the recent refurbishments undertaken by one of Shanghai’s long-standing brewpubs, Boxing Cat Brewery along Fuxing Xi Lu, near Yongfu Lu. Now I recall when Boxing Cat Brewery first opened back in 2008, serving artisanal beers and your staple all-American style of food, with service to match.
Sadly, other than the TKO IPA draught beers, the food on these visits to the refurbished Boxing Cat Brewery, which were exactly a week apart on damp Wednesday evenings, left a lot to be desired, in fact nowhere as good as in prior years, the service was very hit and miss, more like missing in action most of the time.
As I said the beers are decent and the TKO IPA draught from what I understand is their current top seller, so can’t go wrong there.
The food ordered with the Australian visitor
Artisan Sausage Plate: a selection of house sausages, Porter mustard, house pickles, and sauerkraut, house baguette. This was a disappointing dish, no evidence of sauerkraut, the house baguette was thinly sliced, from what appeared to be from a left-over house baguette and toasted.
The Haymaker BBQ House Smoked Ribs: With a splodge of whipped mashed potato on the side. The meat fell off the bone here, and an okay dish.
Thick cut fries: the oil in which the fries were cooked was on its last legs.
The dishes ordered with the German visitor
Artisan Sausage Plate: a selection of house sausages, Porter mustard, house pickles, and sauerkraut, house baguette. I am a terrible glutton for punishment, ordered the same dish as the previous week seeing that my guest, being a German was happy to see this on the menu, nothing changed here, again no evidence of sauerkraut, the house baguette was thinly sliced, from what again appeared to be from a left-over house baguette and toasted, not something I have seen in Bavaria when eating German sausages in Nurnberg’s famed Bratwurst houses.
Contender BBQ Ribs: Passion fruit & Pineapple BBQ sauce, this dish started to hit the right spot, but really an overabundance of topping, that consisted of a mix of diced fruits, flat leaf parsley and sesame seeds, a little too sweet.
Split Decision Fried Chicken: half a crispy chicken, with a bowl of Mac & Cheese, along with sautéed greens (aka the ubiquitous Kale) and bacon. The actual Fried Chicken itself was moist, with a crunchy batter. In my opinion though, the dish was inadequately seasoned, frankly hardly any flavour whatsoever, perhaps the kitchen did not have the combination for the secret spices of this Southern-style fried chicken dish that it should resemble. The Mac & Cheese was not bad, pretty basic, a crisp topping of cheese, sort of here’s one I made earlier and shoved under a grill.
So an overall recap from both of the dining experiences on the food, other than the Fries, Chicken, macaroni cheese dish, and kale. The dishes were mostly tepid, the oil in which the fries were cooked was on its last legs, the wonderful pungent smell of old cooking oil is not what I would expect from Boxing Cat Brewery, one can smell the oil lingering in the air, and thereafter on your clothes.
The Terrace area is dimly lit, thank heavens for Boxing Cat coasters, they help to steady a wobbly table, the cutlery is served in what looks to a tin flower pot, not an issue with that, but please offer some serviettes and not pokey little cocktail napkins, and at least offer a wet towel if you serve ribs or fried chicken, you don’t need to be running up the stairs to wash your hands every time you have a meal of ribs and southern fried chicken.
One needs to be prepared to wait for food, then the bill. Unfortunately, the food doesn’t make up for the slow or shoddy service, but what was I thinking, after all, it’s a sports bar with mediocre food. The prices are ok, with an average spend of 250RMB per person, however, there are other Brew Pubs in Shanghai with much better food, where you can actually see what you are eating, oh and service which is on the ball.
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.