Before I visited, a friend told me I “must” order the avocado and cucumber shake at Charlie’s. Of all the suggestions. I’ll order a small salad, too, while I’m at it, I messaged back. Eye roll emoji. Crying laughing emoji.
Fortunately, it doesn’t matter which smoothie you order at Charlie’s. They all taste of vanilla. That’s no bad thing – the aforementioned avocumberganza (35rmb) is absolutely dreamy and refreshing. I can also confirm that the blueberry smoothie and the vanilla smoothie are vanilla-flavoured. Probably all of the others are, too. I’ll have to check.
The food hits the same standard. The brioche buns are an industrial-level Paul Hollywood Good Bake. Burgers are well-stacked; there’s a fried chicken (35rmb) and a veggie (avo, egg and cheese, also 35rmb) option, plus some fishy things; they have hot dogs too. Importantly, it all tastes exactly how you want it to taste.
The sides are another source of delight: you can get a little pot of chilli (salty but tasty), fries (sweet potato, cheese-topped, any way you like) or chicken tenders (flecked with crispy sesame) for 20-35rmb.
Issues? The ranch dressing is a weakness, the sauce selection in general is limited (someone buy them some BBQ), and there isn’t much atmosphere upstairs, especially when they leave all of the windows open in February. The placid resident cat makes up for these, though, and the prices are friendly enough to allow you to invest in your own sauces.
If you haven’t been yet, give yourself a low-budget treat night and get down there. The shakes are addictive, if homogeneous; the food is well-done, if simple; the price point is on point. I can see why the cat sticks around.
Here’s the low-down on the latest action-
The Beef: Grounded ofc! But the patties were on the dry side. Is it because the meat is leaner and healthier? I have no idea. Purely from a gastronomical view, the meat patty itself was not fitting for what I would call a “juicy burger”. That being said, the toppings, accoutrements, and nicely toasted buns were fresh and high quality. The sauces bar was a major plus…ketchup, mayo, mustard, sriracha sauce - a nice antidote for the drier patties. I cannot explain why, but the burger did not come together as the sum of its parts but rather felt like just the different components stacked up and secured with a toothpick.
Don’t get me wrong, the burger was tasty and in no way bad. Perhaps I had higher expectations given the recent hype in burger joints. In fact, the sides here definitely outshined the burgers. Guac and cheese fries were inventive and finger-licking fantastic, as was the chili. Another must-try, just because, is the fireball hot chocolate, an unexpectedly fun combo. Unfortunately, we missed out on the milkshakes this time and will be coming back for a few of their thick straw-sticking shakes (try saying that fast a few times).
The Motive: Casual get together for a quick bite when you’re in the mood for burgers and shakes, if there happens to be a nearby location. The Charlie’s empire has expanded to 6 stores throughout the city, which is impressive. There’s no denying it’s a fun concept…who can resist those hot pink neon lights (oh and this one has a house cat!)?
The Damage: 300RMB for two including beverages
The Down n’ Dirty: Have to go outside and into the main building, not ideal and a bit of a hassle.
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