Just 15 years ago, I would have declared Brits the kings of queuing. I remember waiting for a bus to school in the morning, and a good 50 strong single file of commuters quietly snaking down the road. Nowadays, it’s more like a rugby scrum trying to board, God have mercy on people trying to disembark. In the past few years, queuing has gone through a renaissance, thanks to trendy no reservations restaurants luring hipsters in like 2-4-1 skinny jeans.
Despite it being trendy to queue again, the average Brit is evidently still a bit embarrassed to be seen as over-eager. On a rainy Saturday morning, myself and two family members decided to beat the blues (and queues) by arriving early at Pitt Cue Co. We arrived at 11:45 and there was literally no-one around, so we did some window shopping, and returned 10 minutes later. This time, there were 5 or 6 groups of young trendies dotted around, all trying to act blasé, but with the tension of a sprinter waiting for the gun. With a grin as we noticed them, we walked to the front of the queue, and were duly joined by every single one of them.
After peering through the window for 5 minutes, we were led in by the half-shaven-headed hostess and shown to our seats in the tiny, dark basement. The waitress’s knowledge of the food was very impressive, able to answer any and every question we had – why can’t every restaurant train their staff like this? Between the three of us, we ordered the smoked onglet and burnt ends bun (both daily specials), beef ribs, pulled pork, pork belly slices, kimchi chicken nuggets, and sides of rib tip beans and coleslaw. Everything was served in little enamelled tin trays – I was transported to the dinner queue Bruce Wayne was in before Ra’s Al Ghul takes him out of the Chinese prison.
The smoked onglet was deeply beefy as you would expect, and was cooked perfectly medium rare, almost a fillet like texture – brilliant, but a pretty small portion for £16, the most expensive thing on the menu that day. The burnt end bun was not the chunky cubes left over from a brisket you would expect, but a shredded pile atop the shiny brioche bun. My suspicion is that this was more likely the entire brisket, smoked and braised down in the rich bone marrow sauce, especially as we didn’t seen any other brisket dishes on the menu – trading standards laws should apply to menu descriptions I reckon, but it was delicious nonetheless. The beef ribs were gargantuan – a rack of 4 – but were slightly disappointing, overcooked and mushy, yet still gristly near the bone, and far too smoky. The biggest disappointment were the kimchi nuggets – seemingly random scraps of chicken that were 30/70 meat/batter, with a squirt of what seemed to be watered down gochujang – where’s the cabbage? The belly strips were better, smothered in a spicy, tangy sauce, most of which ended up on the table. The pulled pork did not have much of a smoky flavour – if it did it was drowned out by the excessive barbecue sauce it was mixed in with. I think this is just how us Brits like this dish, but I personally prefer to taste the actual meat rather than a gob full of vinegary, sweet sauce.
Sorry there are no pictures in this post – all that was available at the time was my camera phone, which would have been next to useless in the dark basement. Plus the sauce that coated our hands would probably have wrecked most electronic devices. And it all looked a mess anyway.