Meat platterMore pictures
Late spring and early summer last year (2011) the London blogs (and even a couple of newspapers) were awash with praise for the BBQ meats being sold out of a cast-iron truck under the Hungerford bridge on the South-Bank. I went and thought it was OK, but certainly not worth the hype it was getting, to be honest it made me question my own food sense; how could I have such differing opinions to nearly everyone else!? Well the truck is now gone but the BBQ can now be bought in a little place just off Carnaby Street, and I finally see what all the hype was about.
For me part of the problem for the truck was the location; being under the bridge provided plenty of space in which to sit down and eat but it also provided (on the times that I went at least) a lot of wind that would chill down even the most boiling pieces of BBQ in minutes and leave it luke warm and not that appetising. There is no such problem in their restaurant with the vast expanses of the bridge being swapped for a tiny seating area (space for about 24 people) and a bar (seating an extra 6 at the window) amounting to a mini warm, and even warmer when it fills up with those eager to sit downstairs in a bigger group, haven for BBQ fans.
I think I just avoided the Saturday lunch rush so quickly got propped up at one of the bar window seats giving me a good people watching spot through a cream veiled curtain with BBQ sauce remnants on it. I had no idea what was happening behind me in the bar but I didn’t mind, I was able to order food much quicker than I thought I would do. The menu is small, with about 4/5 meat mains, a couple of specials and 4/5 sides. I think the cocktails are supposed to be pretty good but beer was the order of the day for me and they had bottles of London based Kernel IPA so I was happy. I ordered a special of middlewhite T-Bone chop, an extra of St Louis ribs, a side of burnt ends mash and on recommendation of my waiter some fried shitake mushrooms. And after what felt that rather some time I was presented with a wooden plank covered in food.
At this point my mouth literally dropped open and my saliva glands started to work overtime, and I could hear a number of people behind me enquiring over what I had just been given. The food served out of brown cardboard boxes under the bridge didn’t look this good, because this good really bloody good. As an added bonus the sides were then also placed down to the side of the meat and I was in heaven. On one side of the board the pork chop was as close to looking like a steak as I think is humanly possible with charred stripped skin and cut into strips exposing the perfectly cooked medium-rare cooked meat, on the other were 3 ribs dripping in a deep red BBQ sauce and cutting the board in half was a big hunk of bread (missing butter I would say), pickled cucumber/gerkins with fennel seeds and a dry fresh coleslaw there I think to appease people into thinking they’re getting at least 1 of their 5 a-day.
For me the sides were equally impressive with a small looking tub of mash covered with a little chunk of burnt BBQ beef and smothered in cooking juice and the deep fried mushrooms coated in golden bread crumbs and looking rather substantial themselves.
Not really knowing where to start I did what any sane man would do and start on the left working my way to the right. The pork chop was probably the single finest individual pork dish I have ever had, I mentioned before that it looked like steak but it also tasted like steak, had a perfect texture and was seasoned to perfection. It was equally good had with a couple of the side pickles, the fennel seeds giving it a slightly Italian taste. Moving my way further to the right I picked up one of the sauce laden ribs, again lovingly charred this was cooked to the point where the rib bone was basically a meat covered straw – the meat pretty much fell off it as I raised it to my mouth and anything left on there could effectively be sucked away from it.
It would be easy to forget the sides and focus purely on the main meat but I’m a bit of a mash fan and couldn’t resist tucking in. This dish is quiet something with perfectly smooth mash, rich BBQ juice and an actually very decent sized bit of BBQ burnt beef on top. The mushrooms, first pickled in what I think I was told was soy, sugar and vinegar giving them a almost sweet taste somehow manage to be moist and juicy after going through the frier and having taken on no excess fat. You always wonder when a waiter is pushing a dish quite so much but fair play – they were awesome and I will recommend anyone going to have at least a bowl to share.
There were two puddings but by this time I was in a meat coma rather unlike any I’ve had since eating a kilo of south african steak and while chocolate peanut butter fudge brownie sounded amazing I couldn’t face it. What I could face though was a pickle-back – their classic drink of a shot of bourbon and a shot of pickling vinegar (served in separate glasses and drunk one after the other) and that was a great way to finish this meal off, and not finish myself off.
So yes, Pitt Cue Company are serving the best BBQ I’ve had in London. Only having 30 seats means you’re either going to have to arrive first or wait a little (30 minutes to an hour seemed to be the norm) until you can sit down and order but that’s nothing a couple of pickle-backs or beers can’t handle. Go now, but please let me know first so if I’m planning a visit I can get in before youTweet