Are you a queue addict? Do you need to know about the latest line to join. Do you wonder where it will take you? I’ll give you an address, 1 Newburgh Street. There is an awesome line there, that starts around five thirty tonight and every other night for the foreseeable future (except Sundays). The wonderful whiff of barbecue gives it away, this is Pitt Cue Co. version 2.
At the end of the line or the beginning, whichever way you see it, is the start of a meal that feels like a performance, you buy drinks in plastic cups from the pub nearby while you wait, you chat to other people in the queue- share Pitt stories. When you make it to the front door, you are told how everything is going to work. If you timed it wrong you’ll have to wait in the bar, but that’s no bother, as the cocktails are a supremely advisable option at this point. Drain a Big Mac and Rye – a tweaked version of a Manhattan that keeps thing cool with a slug of pickle juice.
When its your turn you will be taken downstairs to your seats. The room is a cosy little dinning den. You will be hip to hip with other eaters, where you can’t help but strike up more conversations about drink choices, and dish decisions. Pitt Cue Co, last year a food truck under Hungerford Bridge; this year a bricks and mortar joint, that not only serves up its famous barbecue but now has room to breath and become a little more creative with its choice of daily specials. With so much anticipation for this place and where people like me want to try everything on offer, they have included a double-up feature on the menu, get one of the mains and add an extra meat for a few quid more.
Let the meat fest commence. You are here to feel the lick of flame and the searing of flesh. There is nothing like being served your food in a tin tray. As a registered messy eater it keeps things contained; stacked ribs, rows of resting homemade sausage and piles of brisket did not lean or lurch out of their specified eating zone. Secreted meat juices don’t pass the curved metal lip, your bread has one corner and your side has the other. House pickles take up the middle row- you are now ready to eat.
My homemade sausage was heavy on the burn. The grind to fine, causing a quick chew that didn’t retain smoke sweat. On par with the scorched nature of the sausage an intense seasoning was needed but unfortunately wasn’t there. St.Louis ribs were cooked to perfection
and had a subtle smoke. A hefty squeeze from the bottle of BBQ sauce on the table slicked the ribs in a strong sweet liquorice bent number that was addictive and yet gazumped me at the same time – star anise? Where’s the familiar tang I’m looking for in there? The second bottle on the table was a hot sauce that sung loud and proud, fresh as sin and similar in taste to sriracha sauce and with which I could not stop moping up using the fine wedge of sourdough bread
When I think of brisket, I’m into thick cuts of it tenderised by gelatinising collagen, all the better to chew through and let the taste expel itself into my mouth. But the brisket came in thin slivers that did’t let the great taste amalgamate. Maybe if this wasn’t my double-up option I would have got a larger cut. My side of burnt ends and mash, had a glorious level of meat liquor resting on top of a jam jar of stodgy mash. The other side was a chipotle slaw- it was mild and not enough natural sweet smoke flavour could be detected from the chipotle as it was neutralised by the sour cream that was plopped on top.
The bread and butter style pickles, hinted at something exotic, going slightly out their comfort zone and confirmed that this place is not just an American style BBQ establishment like it is compared to, but altogether heading in a new direction. The quandary I’m getting messed up in, is trying to compare it to the original thing, but its not, this is a whole new beast. This is evolution, and I’m just some kind of fuddy-duddy. For me everything had that one spice too many or an ingredient that need not be there. The technique is there and everything was cooked impeccably, I can’t knock that, but the reality for me is that the food feels like it is halfway through a transformation and hasn’t quite made it there yet.
by Greg Nay www.thebrokenspork.com , @TheBrokenSpork
Pitt Cue Co.
1 Newburgh St W1F 7RB
Tel: 020 7287 5578