It's been tried and tested and reviewed many times before, but I can't resist professing my love for this tiny little spot publicly on the internet. Greg Jurksztowicz is the man of all of our dreams thanks to his cheesy and heavenly creation, Co. Cheese Melt Bar. He's literally hit the nail on the head with everything I like in a dining establishment--it's a comfortable neighborhood bar that sticks to your stomach. Even if you're not big on grilled cheese, it's still a great place to hang out with a beer. But if you're not into grilled cheese, you probably don't deserve this place.
Open and airy in the summer and cozy in the winter, Co. Cheese Melt Bar is after my own heart. You can select sandwiches from the menu to enjoy incredible flavor combinations you never thought possible, or you can order your favorite type of cheese melted on perfect sourdough. Greg wasn't even judgmental that one time I asked for a double portion of brie. You see, there's no real reason to ever request double portions of cheese at this place, as your sandwich is going to come out dripping in cheesy goodness either way, but he just seemed to know it was that kind of day for me. No questions asked. This guy makes the bar what it is--welcoming and warm.
On a recent visit with a friend, we decided to go full cheese monster. We started with a cheese board (RMB 100) that came with three cheeses, olives, pickles, walnuts and bread. We both also went full throttle with large sandwiches (RMB 65), which was silly because the small (RMB 50) is already a really large sandwich. We got the #4 (tortilla chips, refried beans, fried chorizo, jalapeno salsa, avocado, and cheddar) and #9 (Kraft Mac & Cheese and American cheese) in order to swap flavors. Yeah, that's right. You can get Mac & Cheese fried up in a sandwich. Did I mention this place is the restaurant of dreams?
Be sure to get down here for affordable eats after work or before a night out. Grab a beer and hang with friends, or order a Pickleback (whiskey shot chased with pickle juice) and make some new ones. I just can't recommend this place enough.
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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