Meat. Let us face it: if, when your thoughts turn to that most basic and enjoyable of corporeal requirements, eating, meat does not enter your thoughts in some major way you probably have some serious problems and need re-evaluate your life in a fundamental manner. The joys of eating meat are without number, and it is clearly the original health food. Of course, not all meats are created or prepared equally. The Pitt Cue Company, which is spending the summer under Hungerford Bridge, hit their chosen targets with incontestable ease.
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Naturally, as a solid Englishman I do feel a twinge of chagrin that the best food near the Royal Festival Hall is American in origin, but barbecue is a special pleasure for which we can only thank our trans-Atlantic brethren for introducing us to. Those marvellously complex, slow-cooked flavours that infuse bits of meat which may oft be charred on the outside but can also have the most beguiling melting tenderness are just the kind of sybaritic pleasure one should revel in. Barbecue is a joyous path to sensual gratification and the simple truth is Americans do it best.
The Pitt Cue Company’s menu is focussed with only three classics on offer: pulled pork, smokey sausage and ribs served on either barbecue beans or coleslaw with a lump of griddled bread if you so fancy. Editor Daniel and I ordered one of each on beans – I distrust coleslaw, someone once suggested to me it has some unpropitious connection with the loathsome cabbage.
Felicitously, they don’t leave you to nosh on meat with some drearily anodyne beverage to lubricate your palate as they offer beer and, joy of joys, cocktails. I asked for “The most mind buggering drink you can mix, please”. Apparently this is not a question often heard, but after a brief flurry of panic I was served a most improving glass full of various spirits blended with obvious élan.
Our general view of the food was that it was pretty near, if not at, the zenith of all barbecue food experiences we have been fortunate enough to sample on this side of the Atlantic. I feel almost contractually obliged to say that, whilst the ribs were meltingly tender with a panoply of lickerish flavours, those prepared and sold at Hawksmoor are the superior article. These were certainly palpably better than the semi-raw ribs we once had to endure after a cock-up in the cooking plan at a rather swish pre-wedding party, but the best? Alas no.
The smokey sausage slices were definitely of conquering enjoyment value. I am a great believer that swallowing large lengths of a quality sausage is a fine way of sating your urges. These delivered. I would suggest that the pulled pork was far beyond this in terms of fulgurating meat action. Initially I thought it looked a shade on the damp side, but when I tried it it just seemed suffused with rich, powerful, meaty flavours of gloriously moist tenderness. I haven’t had much US-style pulled pork, but this was clearly the climax of all those experiences. You need to try this.
Beans definitely seemed the side order of the enlightened diner. They were cooked in a powerful barbecue sauce which I, to be brief, loved. Do not refuse the offer of their home-made hot sauce; it is not too hot and really enhances the flavours of the meat and beans.
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Finally, if you are still in the area when the queue has dissipated it is well-worth going to the crew to thank them and say how much you enjoyed your lunch (which you will do) as you could well be offered a shot of whiskey with a side shot of pickle fluid. Down the latter after the former and you’ll feel a bit odd, but strangely improved.
Sadly the Pitt Cue Co will only be under the South side of Hungerford Bridge for a few more weeks, so you should be winging your way there with a definite degree of alacrity. For a quick lunch of quality, skilfully prepared meat and a decent drink it is definitely the place to go in London on one of our rare sunny days.