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  • 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.

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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.