Without trying to solicit any sympathy for my current situation, I’m finding it very difficult to get back into the swing of things following my recent trip to San Sebastian. Despite returning home two days ago, I seem to be unable to shake off that holiday laziness; the kind that is in no rush to get up in the morning and gives you decisions no more complicated than what to eat for dinner. A distinct lack of pintxos bars and ice-cold txakoli in the Fitzrovia/Marylebone area has sent me on an internet-searching quest of where to buy Basque wines in the UK instead of getting on to more pressing matters like unpacking my suitcase and updating my blog.
On my last day in the office before going on annual leave, I met Claire for lunch. I have a terrible, and much-documented, track record of trying and failing to get a lunchtime table at Pitt Cue Co., so was pleased when I turned up early one Thursday lunchtime to find that I was first in the queue. Pitt Cue Co. is notorious for its queues and long waiting times – partly because the food is excellent, its reputation first built upon a successful food truck based on the South Bank (among other places) and partly because their dining room has a mere 30 covers, mainly in tables of two.
Having strategically skipped breakfast and ordering a Soho Sour whilst waiting for Claire, I was ready for as much BBQ as I could eat. The cocktail was a tastebud-stinging blend of bourbon, amaretto and lemon juice with ice and a fresh cherry. Perhaps not the best option for lunchtime, but good to waken up the senses after a morning of terrible office coffee.
The focus at Pitt Cue Co., understandably, is on the meat. On arrival, the waiter and I gave each other a little smirk when one diner asked if there were vegetarian options. The meat is served, largely, in two ways: in a meal or in a bun, both with a side dish. The former has the meat placed on one of their trademark vintage white tin bowls with the side dish and a few pickles, the latter serves the meat in a shiny brioche bun. Claire and I both opted for the pulled pork, mine in a meal, hers in a bun. Pulled pork is one of those food trends of the past few years that seems to have sprung up on menus all over town, although few manage to do it well. I am lucky enough to live with a man who takes his pulled pork-making very seriously (although it is perhaps a little spicy for my taste – he is the Chilli Fiend after all). Far from the dried out offerings of many a BBQ restaurant across the city, it is clear that the pulled pork at Pitt Cue Co has been seasoned and slow cooked with a great deal of care – it is moist, flavoursome, well-spiced and has that soft, almost gelatinous quantity that allows you to devour a great deal without even noticing.
Of the sides, the green chilli slaw was tasty enough, but the name led me to expect a lot more heat than was actually delivered. The star of the show, however, the ultimate dish of the day was the bone marrow mashed potato. I had heard from many others just how good this mashed potato was, but had never tried it for myself. A swirl of perfectly smooth and buttery mashed potato arrives in a small tin dish with topped with a ladle of incredibly rich bone marrow gravy and a slab of garlic butter. Not one for somebody who is watching their weight, but for the rest of us, sheer heaven. It’s like the mash and gravy you wish came with every meal. Be prepared to share though, as your dining companion will not be able to resist dipping their bread in, not matter how much you try to edge the dish to your side of the table.
My only real complaint with Pitt Cue is that a lunch of this size will generally render you immobile for the rest of the afternoon. You will also smell like a BBQ as no amount of washing your hands will really get rid of that smoky meat smell. Best to save it for a day when you can head home for an old movie and a snooze on the couch.
Apologies for the poor quality of the photos – it is dark in there!
Pitt Cue Co., 1 Newburgh Street, London W1F 7RB