Review: Pitt Cue Co., 1 Newburgh Street, W1F
I’m in barbecue heaven as I take a seat in the brand new Pitt Cue Co.
I’ve never been so happy to have sauce all over my face.
Sitting in the basement dining room of Pitt Cue Co., my nose filled with the smell of BBQ, laced with bourbon and infused with the faint and fresh aroma of new wood, what do I see? A room full of delighted, albeit sticky fingered, smiling diners with me being one of them.
Last month I reported on five new restaurants opening in London this year and at the top of that mouth-watering list was Pitt Cue Co. – the famous food van, now turned permanent Soho resident.
Having ditched their waggon and set up shop just behind Carnaby Street, the respected agents of barbecue, co-founders Tom Adams and Jamie Berger, open their doors this week. I expected big smoky meat and big ballsy drinks – I got them.
The entrance to the corner venue leads into a small wooden bar, the back shelf lined with an impressive selection of bourbon and rye. One of my companions fancies a beer and is presented with a tasty list of craft bottled beers but he opts for the only beer on tap, Pitt Cue “Whatever” draught.
I enquire as to the ingredients of one of the cocktails, the Pitt Cue Co. signature - the “pickle back”.
“A shot of bourbon followed by a shot of pickle juice” cometh the reply. Ah. Opting for the safer “Cider sour” I reserve to man-up later and try one after dinner.
Ready for dinner we made our way down to the tables. It’s a relatively small space, rustic wooden tables against clean white walls. A delicate touch is present by way of the elegant lampshades which are only real detailing in the space.
Furnished with menus we take our seats. “Choose your meat with a side” – the definite, simple instructions across the top of the menu. No fancy woo-ha here.
Luckily I was with three guests so we had the enormous, and rare, pleasure of asking the waiter to bring us everything on the menu. For those of you who haven’t had that particular pleasure, try it. It feels good.
The nibbles begin to arrive and we are presented with Virginia peanuts, smoked hot wings with pickled celery, and crispy pickled shiitake. We can’t get enough of the latter; little fried mushrooms that burst in the mouth with hot pickle juices. Delicious.
The main event arrives with a waft of sweet, smoky barbecue from the kitchen in individual porcelain dishes. A carnivore’s paradise of huge sticky ribs, strips of pulled pork and beef brisket.
I’m nervous at first, approaching the meat with a butter knife from the “tools” can on the table, but as the meat falls off the bone and melts in the mouth, the heroic little butter knife stands its ground.
Accompanying the mighty meat selection are a number of sides, each with their own plucky characters. Hock, beet and pickle salad allowing the guilty indulgence of even more meat, (have I mentioned this is not one for vegetarians?), and the burnt end mash delightfully fluffy and smoky. Not for wimps.
Having practically inhaled all of the food on the table our minds are drawn to dessert by our effortlessly friendly server. “Oh we couldn’t possibly, could we? Oh guess it would be rude not to… and another round of whiskey sours.”
There were two desserts, naturally, in the spirit of the evening, we have them both. The Texan-take on Eton-mess, Snickers Mess oozing with peanut crunch and super rich caramel dosen’t last long and the bourbon sticky toffee pudding with Armagnac ice-cream disappears at record speed. These guys are good, it was pure indulgence.
I am reminded after dessert that a good way to digest food is to take a digestif. Yes, time for a round of “Pickle Backs” before we exit.
Down the hatch goes the bourbon, and then down comes the pickle juice. I wait for the gag reflex but it doesn’t come. In fact, I am surprised by the sensation of enjoyment. The juice cuts through the bourbon, taking the edge off and leaving a delightful savoury tang behind it. Impressive.
I swing by the bathroom on my way out eager to check for renegade sauce smudges and lingering meat in my teeth to find no mirror. Oh no. I’ll have to trust my friends to inform me.
I may well leave the restaurant sauce-faced and running for a tooth-pick but that’s a chance I’d be happy to take again and again.