Friday, 3 February 2012

pitt cue co.

net curtain pattern reflected in the menu
pitt cue co is about bold, gutsy and assertive flavours. it is strictly a vegetarian hell so please don’t make the mistake of taking your animal loving friends there. in terms of its sexual orientation this food is truly heterosexual. (if you don’t know what i am talking about then read this article on simon doonan and you will know what i mean). to be sure there are delicate notes to be found, although they are few and far between. the barbecue sauce for one has an overarching molasses note that recedes to leave a delicate fruity and aniseed note. an american diner seated next to us said to me that the barbecue sauce is mumbo sauce. in american speak this refers to an east coast speciality with very addictive flavours. then again, the pickles are served wafer thin rather than whole and chunky. they have a sweet-sour taste and are refreshing against the meat. the baked beans are made with turtle beans whose dainty little bodies are bound by a smoky and sweet sauce. the smooth and comforting mash is made manly by a crown of dark brown burnt ends and barbecue juices from the brisket. the bourbon sticky toffee pudding is a large irregular slice lacquered with bourbon caramel, the bourbon smoothing the cloying sweetness of toffee. on the side is a delicate quenelle of salted caramel ice cream made textural but the addition of pudding crumbs. both m and i like a slightly melted ice cream which adds more moisture to the already moist pudding. the pudding was pure indulgence on our part as neither of us could justify the space for it. it seemed unfair to not treat ourselves though, as m is only in london for a couple of days and we had queued for an hour to eat… 

all of the above though are compliments to the real thing – the various red meats dry or wet rubbed with seasonings that amplify the warmth and savoury caramel notes of the meat. the southern states in america are known for using a closed oven (or pit) with wood chips to barbecue the meat at low temperatures and for long hours. this way of cooking tenderises the most stubborn cuts of meat like ribs and brisket as well as giving them a smoky flavour. my cravings for good quality barbecue have been directly proportional to the reduced frequency of my travel to the us. last summer a mobile pitt cue co gave those cravings a much-needed respite, and now with a permanent little space on carnaby street i can rest easy. 

the brisket was reduced to a pile of strands so incredibly tender that they melt in the mouth even before you begin to work on them. m’s order of st.louis ribs was equally tender albeit required a little more work in eating. this is the kind of food that demands being eaten by hand, especially the ribs which need to be stripped of the meat that clings to them. a large chunk of bread marked by the grill was the perfect vehicle for me to scoop up brisket with. 

pitt cue co has a real all round american feel to it in the way that one strikes up conversations with other diners. of course this is partly the conspiracy of the smallness of the space. m and i started chatting with a couple whilst we were waiting. it turns out both of them were working for russell norman and so we had a nice long chat about polpo, polpetto, spuntino and mishkin’s. it is perhaps for this reason that we didn’t feel the hour long wait. once indoors we were held at the bar area on the first floor. there is literally no space to move and this can be quite a challenge if you are trying to de-layer your winter clothing. nonetheless we somehow managed to juggle our coats and drinks. i had a hard lemonade to tide me over the final wait. it had all the goodness of a tart lemonade with a sharp alcoholic kick. m had a shot of bourbon with a shot of irn bru. 

sticky salted toffee conclusions
we were eventually seated downstairs next a couple with whom we got talking. the man was from the states and the lady from the uk. between the four of us we had some really interesting conversation, mostly around how good southern american barbecue is. once they vacated a party of four arrived and we struck up another conversation. i have been to other tiny eateries that do not invoke the same sense of camaraderie. perhaps the diners who come to pitt cue co are familiar with the american sense of friendliness… whatever the reasons it makes for a fabulous evening. you get to eat good food and meet new people. in that spirit i am using d’s word to conclude my thoughts on pitt cue co ‘i personally can't find adjectives that can do that place justice or pay the proper homage, so i'll let my taste buds handle giving out the accolades...’. this to me captures the dinner most perfectly. 

Pitt Cue Co on Urbanspoon

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