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  • There are many different types of first date. There’s the casual drink (safe, but half-hearted). There’s the elegant evening meal (more impressive, but expectation-heavy). There’s the date I went on as a teenager to Nando’s, where I cried real chilli tears because I boldly ordered the ‘extra hot’.

    I want to make the case for a brunch date, though. Example venue: Brut Eatery.

    Reason 1: High Chill Level

    There’s a very casual vibe at Brut. I know first dates are often about making a good first impression, but you’ll look very incongruous here if you turn up in heels or a suit jacket. Kick it in trainers! Sashay over in your sweatpants! Easiest date prep ever.

    Reason 2: Myriad Food Options

    At Brut, you can order from the whole menu during weekend daytimes. Obviously classic brunch dishes are available (a version of a Full English; waffles; pancakes; etc) but there are also lighter or heavier options, to suit your preference. We enjoyed a healthy but satisfying quinoa-based salad bowl, the red tartine (with smoked salmon), the Cali Breakfast and the Brut Breakfast. With coffees and juices, it came to around 400rmb for four, which is pretty good. They also have a great range of cakes if you’re looking to extend the meal. If it’s not going well, though, you don’t even have to wait around awkwardly for the bill – you pay at the counter beforehand.

    Reason 3: Conversational Kitchenware

    Brut Eatery is part of the Shanghai Brut empire, which also includes a homewares store. They sell their adorable face mugs in the café, but there’s a much bigger range (including the signature Brut chairs) down on Anfu Lu. If you’re looking for an excuse to keep talking, it’s a nice stroll south.

    There were some less impressive points about Brut: the toilet, for example, is one of the worst I’ve seen in a Western-style café. Dingy, dirty, and constantly engaged. There was also a billing problem, in that the waitress charged me TEN TIMES the bill when I paid on WeChat. It’s lucky that I checked – the mistake wasn’t picked up until I lazily scrolled through my transactions later. Pay with caution. The food arrived very sporadically, as well – one dish, then almost everything else a few minutes later, then a half hour wait for the last plate.

    Overall, though, it’s a decent neighbourhood eatery with a very calm vibe.

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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.