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  • The Yanping / Wuding area in Jing’an is packed with bars and restaurants, most of which cater to the growing expat population in the area. There are myriad options from different cultures here: juicy American burgers, refined Nordic cuisine, fresh sushi. Considering these options, I struggle to understand why Bites X Brews on Fire is always so rammed.

    Look – it’s not bad. The service is probably the best thing about the place; one of the servers in particular has a great rapport with the customers. Apart from her friendly banter, though, there’s very little that stands out here. It also really depends on when you visit – the last time I went, we struggled to get served at all.

    I’ve visited a couple of times: once for a light salad and drinks, and once for brunch. Both times, I was underwhelmed by the food. This weekend, for example, I had a veggie panini: brie, courgette, pea shoots, green goddess dressing. My friend ordered the pulled pork bagel. They were both served together in an awkward little wooden truckle, with only one set of cutlery. When I ordered a salad last time, it arrived ensconced in a hollowed tree stump. Call the @wewantplates police.

    The food was distinctly okay. The panini and salad both lacked punch, although the bagel was pretty good. Drinks are also fine: very normal lattes, a nicely sharp homemade lemonade, and a nearly-authentic hot toddy. They also have some good happy hour deals.

    It’s all just a bit messy, though. The menus are falling apart. The tables are badly organised and crowded. The deals aren’t clearly advertised.

    I think that its success perhaps lies in the fact that it covers a lot of bases. Whether you’re looking for lunch or dinner, heavy or light, coffee or booze, you’re covered. It’s a real jack-of-all-trades… which leads to an obvious criticism about mastery, and a very average three-star review.

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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.