Writing about food is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. Not possessing a journalists finesse and style or critics palate I thought I might be able to do a little better than making agreeable noises when friends ask for a recommendation here or there and using adjectives such as ‘the business!’.  

So it is with a little trepidation that I write this, let alone share. I might preview to my girlfriend and gauge levels of sincerity with any positive feedback I receive.

Pitt Cue

The transition from street vendor to small pop up restaurant is proportionate only to the exceptional quality that a lot of London venues now offer outside of the fine dining experience. It seems Meatliquor and Pitt Cue are the forerunners to a plethora of new pop up style rough and ready outlets that let their food do all the talking and footfall of customers answering their critics.

Wednesday night wasn’t my first visit to Newburgh Street and into the 30 cover gem that is Pitt Cue Co. Formerly the star attraction of the food stalls on The South Bank, PCC expanded to their Soho residence at the start of this year.

 Before I start, I ‘d like to point out that pulled pork and high end ‘cue has become something of obsession since I missed a ferry to Manhattan from a flea market in Brooklyn last year.

Friends and I chanced upon it one Sunday having rented an apartment in Williamsburg. Keen not to spend all our stay in various states of sobriety we went off the beaten track for a cursory browse of the market only to find it very much like London’s equivalent. Full of tat only hipsters buy to try and qualify their originality. A cynical bunch, we’d sussed it and decided to push off.

As we made our way to the pontoon, a long line of people caught my eye. You know something’s up when you see 40+ standing patiently on a cold November afternoon and not a nightclub door in sight. They weren’t there for the 2nd hand American Apparel leggings, repro Rolling Rock crates and ironic lapel badges either. They were there for brisket, beef ribs and pulled pork. This was Mighty Quinn’s. A two tonne smoker, a chopping block, hot brunette wielding a meat cleaver and an evident reputation. I had the pulled pork with pickles in a brioche bun and have been dreaming of it ever since.

And so to Pitt Cue. I took my girlfriend here on one of our first dates having, I guess either read about it from Giles Coren or Jay Rayner. Having eaten at the excellent Caravan on Exmouth Market I wanted to see if the slightly less elegant option of ribs, bourbon and beer would appeal. 9 months later we returned on Wednesday at her request for her birthday.

 Five of us in total, we arrived early and put our names down with a very pleasant lady. This is a first come first serve policy adopted by most other places of the moment. Pitt Cue even have a disclaimer stating: ‘We are not trying to be cool but sadly there are only 30 seats and we just can’t think of a better and fairer system than first come, first served.’  Fair do’s, but when ambience and intimacy aren’t being sought after, a German style beer hall Pitt Cue would do me with pretty fräuleins serving steins of beer and vast trays of meat.. I digress.

After a short wait and a drink from the bar, we’re ushered down a small staircase to a tiny basement. Menu’s are quickly distributed and drinks ordered. Due to the restricted number of covers, tables are turned quickly and we order without delay. Specials include brisket and a cut of beef called ‘the grasscutter’ a rare cut of beef that has been spied on another diners table and ordered by 2 of our party. I hesitate but being a creature of habit order the St. Louis ribs with a green chilli slaw.

Food, like the service arrived promptly on  tin trays, prison issue style with green chilli ‘slaw and a thick wedge of sourdough on the side.

You wonder if ribs served in the UK up until now had all belonged to malnourished pigs when you see these thick, heavy slabs of tender pork smoked to perfection and oozing a sweet cure bbq sauce that reduce our table to the aforementioned noises I’m trying to steer away from.

The inclusion of sourdough becomes instantly apparent as the juices from the meat and pickled veg mingle waiting to be mopped up and savoured when everything else has been dispatched.

This is gluttony on a new level, table manners left at the door. A flurn of napkins now liberally applied to faces and hands every couple of mouthfuls as meat falls off the bone with ease, the fresh slaw providing the perfect crunch to the melt in your mouth texture of rib meat and warmth of the green chilli only adding another dimension. I defy anyone to have space for pudding. In 40 minutes it’s all over and we leave. We’ve been looked after by polite and efficient staff, have enjoyed what I consider to be one of the most satisfying places to eat and not charged the earth for it- around £25 a head with drinks.

I’m left wondering how PCC get it so right when the formula is so simple and others get it so wrong or in comparison, don’t care enough. I looked up that place in Brooklyn and found a quote from the owner which sums up the level of commitment I find at Pitt Cue: “I’m trying to source the best quality ingredients and not fuss with them too much. Cooking the old school way, with wood and time. It’s pretty transparent, there just aren’t a lot of people out there that will tend a fire for 20 hours day after day. Essentially I am a masochist with salt and sauce.”

 

Sharing a labour of love like that will ensure the queue will only grow and despite using the word ‘pop up’ several times in this first attempt at a review, I believe and hope that far from popping up, Pitt Cue will stay firmly put.

 

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