I thought I’d help you out if you are, like me, a bit disgruntled (to say the least) with the ‘democratic’ no-bookings policy the newest places in central London have adopted, by letting you know that in order to avoid the Saturday lunch queue at Pitt Cue Co*, it is advisable to turn up at 12.03pm precisely, PDQ.
A bit early, you might say? Well, you get there at 12.04 and– just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
After the BSG’s nose had led us nowhere in particular, I took over on our BBQ quest, well in the know having trodden the same path in vain a week previously. My friend Lucy and I had come a cropper in our mission as instead of bouncing up to an easy table at 5.59pm we’d had the temerity to opt for a post-work drink and now faced a two hour queue at 7.15. Several unsuccessful stops (can’t book v. must book) later we’d plumped for some very good tapas and sherry at our old friend Brindisa. Honestly, I am not sure I can keep up. To book or not to book: that seems to be the question, to which there is no clear answer.
Despite this gripe, lunch was really, really good. The clanky tractor seat stools and the high wood counter roared rough and ready from the get-go, as did the heavy metal soundtrack and the bottles of amber everything backing the bar. However, the sun was barely over the yard arm so we stayed off the hard liquor and the BSG was delighted to find root beer on offer (I think it tastes like Germolene). Perusing the menu and seeing enamel trays of smoky glistening ribs and charred flesh coming sizzling from the kitchen we reckoned you’d have to be a brave vegetarian to sit comfortably here for long. Though a couple of pickleback shots (pickle brine and whisky) might have taken the edge off.
Anywhere that the pickled:etc ratio is 50:50 is high on my list, and my caramelised pulled pork came with generous heaps of two different kinds, plus a hunk of bread and a fresh chipotle slaw. I rolled up my sleeves, tucked one of my napkins (I got through 4) in and ate like I supposed a hungry trucker would (no offence to truckers though, I very much enjoyed it). The BSG wondered for a moment how to tackle his enormous ribs before throwing caution to the wind and attacking them with gusto. It was at this stage that we realised why the counter was so high – a tactical few inches from tin plate to gob made pigging out easy. No, we agreed, Pitt Cue was not a first-few-dates kind of place.
We were briefly joined by a plastic cow (pictured) as the place got steadily fuller – it was waiting for a table, I suppose. We gave St Patrick’s Day a little nod with a hearty side order of burnt-end champ: totally unnecessary after a starter of chilli chicken wings and pickled celery (2 napkins) but oh-so deep and delicious. There wasn’t any room for pudding but there’s not an inkling of doubt that we won’t be back with our bibs on – with Lucy – for that and a pickleback one evening soon. At 5.59 on the dot.
*As Pitt Cue tell you on their website, their no-bookings policy has more to do with their size than with being ‘’cool’. It’s true that this is a tiny place – just a wee step up in size from their original van guise – but it serves big, hunky food. Plus, it closed my week with a modicum of cool, in stark contrast to its traumatic start when I caught Slash (hero of my teenage years) playing out the series of Top Gear astride a crushed Ford Focus in front of a crowd of balding, denim-clad motor enthusiasts.