Boxing Cat Brewery took a lot of flak after its recent redesign and menu update. The common consensus seemed that the decor went downhill, the food quality went downhill, and that acquisition by InBev had robbed the Shanghai food and bev community of a beloved old standby. I suppose no one was surprised when Boxing Cat closed again earlier this month (April 2019) for another round of renovations.
All of that history is a mystery to me, because I visited Boxing Cat was early this month, a few days after their re-opening, and I thought it was pretty darn good.
My Contender pale ale was crisp, light, a little bit floral and very refreshing. I'm not usually one to have a beer with lunch on the weekend (unless I plan to take an afternoon nap) but it seemed like it wouldn't be right to go to a brewpub and not try one of their beers, and I'm glad I did.
To go with the beer, we got the ½ fried chicken with mac n cheese and collard greens, along with a plate of nachos and sweet potato fries. All the items mentioned above were very tasty and hit the spot, if that spot is called "shameless American bar junk food". The fried chicken was well seasoned with no trace of old oil taste (probably thanks to the recent re-open). The skin was fully crisped, with no soggy or fatty bits and the meat was still juicy on the inside. There was a very slight pop of sourness under the skin layer, which I suppose is from the buttermilk in the breading process. I've never tasted it so distinctly before, but I liked it.
The mac n cheese was perfect, exactly how I want my creamy mac and cheese to be. The parmesan layer on the top was optimally crispy, while the cheesy goop underneath featured three more cheeses (cheddar, gruyere and something else delicious). It's not health food...it's not trying to be anything than a rich, indulgent snack, and it does that gloriously.
The nachos looked like a smaller serving, but the abundance of toppings made the plate much fuller than it appeared at first. I really enjoy when a restaurant doesn’t make you pay +10 RMB for sour cream, +15 RMB for guacamole, etc... Just put it all on there and give the people what they want!
The sweet potato fries were awesome! Just the right amount of seasoning, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. This is my new standard for sweet potato fries. Not that I’ve had a lot of them, but this is now my standard.
The slight bitterness of the collard greens was a nice contrast to the richness of the fried chicken and the mac n cheese.
Service was pretty spaced out and not really on the ball, but I'm used to that in Shanghai, so I didn't take a star off for it. Others may feel differently.
I can't compare Boxing Cat to what it used to be before InBev acquisition, or prior to its recent re-renovation, but I sure enjoyed my meal there this time. Lunch for two with one beer came out to just about 250 RMB and I think I'll be back.
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.