Pitt Cue Co, 1 Newburgh Street, W1F 7RB
Pitt Cue Co, located just behind Carnaby Street, is squeezed into the tiniest space you could possibly imagine a restaurant trying to fit in.
The US-style barbecue restaurant originally made its name as a van, serving up its meaty treats to passers-by on Southbank, and as demand grew, they decided to step away from the steering wheel and into the kitchen.
The nature of a small restaurant of course is that queues are almost always inevitable. On arrival, peering through the door, I wasn’t sure if there was room for me and my fellow meat enthusiast to even stand in there without falling onto someone’s lap. But the friendly, smiling faces behind the bar welcomed us in to have a drink while we waited.
The drinks menu featured lots of bourbon, a draught beer called “Whatever”, and some cryptically named cocktails. We ordered Bloody Marys (it was lunchtime, after all), or as they’re known at Pitt Cue Co, “Hair of the Pig”, having been reassured by the proud bartender that with his secret spices and bacon-infused vodka in the mix, this would be no ordinary Bloody Mary. And indeed, the subtle hint of smokey bacon added a whole new surprising and delicious dimension. I continue to believe there’s not many things that can’t be improved with the addition of bacon.
But the big player here is the meat. Pitt Cue Co use a proper smoker to slow cook their animals, and it shows. The melt in your mouth slices of beef brisket had a beautiful pink blush, and the flesh on the St. Louis (pork) ribs came away from the bone with minimal effort or gnawing. All was slathered in a gorgeous barbecue sauce.
At one point I somehow managed to cause one of the gargantuan ribs to do a rather acrobatic flip off the table onto the floor - a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, slow-motion moment. The giggling, judging eyes of diners sat mere centimetres away from me were the only thing that stopped me from eating it anyway. Were I at home, you know I would have done.
Every meat option comes served on a white enamel tray with a healthy serving of pickles, a big hunk of toasty bread and your choice of side. Of these sides, the Chipotle Slaw in particular was just outstanding. Somehow that smokey, meaty flavour that pervades everything at Pitt Cue Co had even worked its way into the slaw. If they sold it by the tub, I’d be bulk buying.
The Burnt-ends Mash - a little pot of mashed potato with a saucy “burnt-ends” of brisket topping - was equally drool-worthy. Once again a potentially average dish was turned up to 11 by the deep barbecue flavour infusion.
We greedily ordered smoked chicken wings (of course) as an extra side, and did not live to regret it. They were positively drenched in sauce, and juicy without being greasy.
This can be said for the whole Pitt Cue Co experience - sure, it’s a little bit of a carnivorous pig-out, but you won’t fall into a sweaty coma afterwards. It’s not just meat - it’s meat treated with dignity. The most apathetic of meat-eaters could not fail to be swayed when that white tray is placed in front of them. You can even eat with a knife and fork if you like. Just don’t judge me when I don’t.
Pic from The Guardian