So today’s the big day – Pitt Cue Co. opens to the public. Wish ‘em luck. They’ve already been tipped as the London’s number one pig-out spot for 2012 and with room for just 25-30 covers they’re going to need it. Anyone fancy a sweepstake for Pitt Cue 2? I’ll give it six months… (Pictures by Paul Winch-Furness)
Anyone expecting Pitt Cue Co. Soho to be a static version of the trailer that chef Tom Adams & co. pitched up on the Southbank last summer can go ahead and order those elasticated trousers now. The ethos hasn’t changed: classic smoked barbecue cuts with original character at an affordable price. One thing that has been updated however it the cocktail menu, overseen by Fran Astbury at the widely praised The Rookery in Clapham. I couldn’t wait to try the New York Sour—a bourbon based sour (sans egg-white) with a red wine float. Like all things Pitt Cue Co. it really hit the spot. As did its trademark aperitif, the pickleback.
Between myself and my dining companions, a photographer, a meat supplier and a fellow food writer, we ordered the entire menu, even doubling up on a couple of items (nothing short of true love will get you near my Snickers Mess). There are no starters at Pitt Cue Co., but a plethora of sides will keep you busy, including ‘the Pitt Cue pickle jar’, which includes shiitake, fennel, kohlrabi (German turnip), daikon (Japanese radish) and red onion. On the nibble front the star of the evening was the deep-fried pickled shiitake, which had a very light sesame batter and zipped along with ginger and unripe plum flavours and a sweet jammy finish.
As I scan the test menu of four meats, five sides a couple of specials, the kitchen door swings open and wafts us with a delightful smoked beef aroma with top notes of sweet molasses. Nothing else would do, I had to have the brisket. And lots of it. Fortunately Tom doesn’t scrimp on portion sizes and even the buttery mashed potato side is sprinkled with burnt ends (slow cooked morsels from the fattier part of the brisket known as the point) and caramelised onions. Most of the sides are served in jam jars and I opted for the mash and the braised sprout tops. The burnt end mash had a pudding-like thickness—real soul food. The braised sprout tops on the other hand were largely unadulterated and the bitterness provided the perfect antidote to all the other sweet, piquant and meaty flavours orbiting the table as we shared the dishes around.
The beef brisket was the tenderest and most flavoursome I’d ever tasted. The same goes for the pulled pork, which was was served with the house BBQ sauce that was (surprise surprise) smoky and sweet but with a hint of Chinese five-spice. All mains are served with a chargrilled hunk of sourdough bread. Perfect for mopping up any left over sauce.
“The red smoke rings around the edge of the meat show you that it’s been smoked at a low heat for a really long time. You don’t get that in other barbecue restaurants in London.”
- Magnus Hultberg, Product Manager and Strategic Advisor at Livebookings
The ribs, sourced from Philip Warren & Son in Cornwall, were huge and tremendously moist. French-Algerian philosopher Camus said “the best way to talk about something you love is to speak of it lightly”, but I prefer chef Neil Rankin’s (Tom’s culinary partner-in-rind) no-nonsense approach: “the beef ribs are Pitt Cue’s killer dish”.
Pitt Cue Co. wouldn’t be a pig-out joint in the fine American tradition if it didn’t have great desserts. Fear not. I tasted each and every one on the menu (dollar signs flash across my dentist’s eyes) and my favourites were the Snickers Mess (a gooey feast of vanilla ice cream, meringue, chocolate, salted caramel, peanuts and a big putty-like brownie base) and the gorgeously spongy sticky toffee pudding. To pay respects to an oft-overlooked aspect of restaurant reviews, the dessert spoons here are fantastic. Enormously cavernous bowls allow for pelican-esque mouthfuls. Which is really how these desserts should be eaten!
Pig-out rating: ★★★★★
Lunch/dinner for two with picklebacks, beer and cocktails costs around £50; Pitt Cue Co., 1 Newburgh St, Soho, is open Mon-Sat 12–11pm and Sunday 12-6pm.Follow @PittCueCo