Thursday, 12 January 2012

Pitt Cue Co.


 
photo: Paul Winch-Furness

There’s something wonderful about context – experiencing something at just the right moment in time, under just the right conditions.

Such was the case when I finally managed to hit Pitt Cue Co.’s truck, parked this past summer under the aptly-named Hungerford Bridge. The Southbank was packed with people, almost giddy with surprise at one of the few truly brilliant days of British summer, and as we made our way down to the truck with the Thames sparkling in the sun, nothing could have been more appropriate for a few ex-pats than ice cold beer and good ol’ American barbeque.

So much so, in fact, that I was worried as I approached the first bricks-and-mortar outpost of Pitt Cue – was it merely the context that made the experience? How could this possibly surpass or even rival my last time eating great (not good or half-decent, but solidly great) barbeque in London?

The lack of a ridiculous wait in comparison to that of the summer was an auspicious start to the experience – while standing in blazing sunshine in London is a rare and welcome occurrence, shivering in the sub-arctic chill of Soho in January is only marginally less pleasant. There’s a bit of a trend towards reservation-free dining as of late, which is GREAT if you happen to sneak in and snag a seat at exactly the right time (again, context), but can lead to foot-stompingly long waits and even abandoned plans other nights. Pitt’s corner place is all of 30 seats, but is well designed with an open front bar area to limit the amount of time spent outside and pacify patrons with alcohol once they’re finally in (I wish the same could be said about similar burger-based new openings...). Judging by other reviews, maybe I just hit it right, but we were in the door and at the bar in 20 minutes (which still sounds slightly ridiculous as I type it...).

photo: Paul Winch-Furness

PBR in hand and one Pickle Back down – the infamous whiskey shot with sweet pickle juice chaser – we couldn’t have been more content chatting with the co-owner Jamie, holding court behind the bar, and priming ourselves for pig.

photo: Paul Winch-Furness

Once seated downstairs, we divided and dare I say conquered the menu: we attacked 4 proteins (pulled pork, beef brisket, and St Louis pork and beef ribs) and assorted sides (a sharp hock, beet and pickle salad; buttery braised sprout tops; smoky beans; and mash cleverly topped with deeply-savory burnt ends), all served with pickles, cabbage and a chunk of chewy sourdough.


 photo: Paul Winch-Furness

The much-disputed winners were the tangy-sauced pulled pork, the lighter sides (so as not to compete with the meat – the mash was eye-rollingly delicious but too rich) and an extra of crispy pickled shiitakes. Much has been made of the shiitakes, and for good reason – the vinegar tang cuts through the crispy fried exterior of the meaty mushrooms for a perfect balance. The only disappointment seemed to be the smallish size of the ribs – bring on the dinosaur bones any day.

For the life of me, I still can’t remember why we couldn’t manage them that night but a few friends' descriptions of desserts from the ever-changing selection, along with the temptation of daily savory specials on offer, left me licking my fingers and wanting more. Whenever.

photo: Paul Winch-Furness


Pitt Cue Co.
1 Newburgh Street, Soho, W1F 7RB

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