14 March 2012

Worth the Wait: Pitt Cue Co Review

I have been trying--unsuccessfully--to eat at Pitt Cue Co, London's newest southern-style BBQ restaurant in Newburgh Street, since it opened. The closest I came was after the disappointment of The Woman in the Fifth: we rocked up at 8.45 on a Friday night and there appeared to be only 15 or so people ahead of us, so we waited for a bit, enjoyed a free sample of the pulled pork, and waited some more. Eventually, someone came out and told us they might not be able to serve us before closing time. The queue, it seemed, continued into the restaurant's tiny ground-floor bar area, probably helped by an article about the place in the Times that day; the tables, seating 30 people in total, were downstairs. Disheartened, we left and sought sustenance elsewhere.

I hoped that on a cool, grey Tuesday evening in March, I would have better luck, but just after BB and I had made plans to meet there at 6.30, Londonist posted a write-up of Pitt Cue Co. When I arrived, the bar area was almost full but there wasn't yet a queue outside. I put my name down for a table and was told the wait would be about an hour. Still, an hour waiting at a cool bar with interesting, albeit blokey, cocktails is much more appealing than lingering in the cold on a Soho side street. So, we ordered our hard lemonades (lemonade with some kind of booze--probably whiskey--strong enough to take the edge off a long Tuesday) and waited and tried to stay out of the way. The hostess's prediction turned out to be very accurate and we were seated, at one of the few ground-floor seats by the windows rather than in the main restaurant downstairs, just after 7.30.

Pitt Cue Co is really not the place to come if you're a vegetarian. The menu options are basically: pork, ribs, sausage or steak. Each of the main courses comes with cucumber and onion pickle and a side, so I opted for burnt-end mash with my St Louis ribs. For £12, I got a huge plate of food--even the mash was topped with some kind of pork and gravy--which more than filled me up. The meat was very tender and flavoursome and slipped right off the bone. The flavour was just as authentic as many of the southern BBQ restaurants I've tried in New York, although I have never ventured south of Virginia! In fact, the least authentic thing about Pitt Cue Co was the waitress's pronunciation of "St Louis" as she repeated my order back to me. I said ['sənt 'lu:Is] ("Lewis"), she said ['sənt 'lu:i] (rhymes with dewy), but we called the whole thing off. BB went for the pulled pork option, and for those with slightly smaller appetites, there are "bun meals" on the menu, which consist of pulled pork in a bun with a side dish.

Pitt Cue Co's St Louis ribs with burnt-end mash

Overall, I was very impressed. The food was good value for money and very tasty and I will definitely be returning anon. Interestingly, by 8 pm, the queue had subsisted and we had a bit more space. Perhaps this was because so many people work near Carnaby Street and stopped by on the way home, rather than planning a long Tuesday night out. Either way, Pitt Cue Co was worth the wait--and worth the queue and the inconvenience of a no-bookings policy.

Pitt Cue Co. 1 Newburgh Street, London, W1F 7RB (Tube: Oxford Circus). Website. Twitter.

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