Pulled Pork at Pitt Cue Co

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Was it worth waiting in line for 90 minutes to eat at Pitt Cue Co? In a word: yes. Yes. Yes yes yes. A thousand times: yes. I’m tempted to actually type ‘yes’ a thousand times. I don’t mean writing it once, copying and pasting until I have ten, then copying and pasting till I have a block of one hundred, then copying and pasting that till I’ve written it a thousand times. I mean actually typing it a thousand times. And probably with ‘Shift’ held down – nope, no Caps Lock.

“A sauce that was no doubt bad for you, but had such a wholesome, homely taste that you couldn’t really believe it”

This place is just fun. I admit that I’m a bit behind the curve. I’ve wanted to go for ages, but this was my first visit. Yes, on plenty of occasions the mammoth wait has put me off. And whilst a lot of that is down to the (justified) buzz about the place, it’s also a lot to do with the fact they really don’t have many covers.

To be fair, we only waited about 45 minutes outside, and once inside we started on the Picklebacks – PCC’s signature ‘cocktails’, which is, in fact, a shot of bourbon chased by a shot of pickle juice. Yes, you read that right – the juices they use to pickle their gherkins. I know you’ll roll your eyes and not believe it but, honestly, it’s surprisingly good. We got through nine. Outrageously good and horribly messy rib tips kept us going, until, finally, we got a table.

And it was worth it. Boy was it worth it. The pulled pork was look-no-teeth tender, with a sauce that was no doubt bad for you, but had such a wholesome, homely taste that you couldn’t really believe it. And you know what? It actually tasted of meat. There was actually animal, rather than blasted-out-of-existence mush, in spite of the best efforts of cooking for no doubt hours and hours. Perfect.

“Virgin Picklebacks all round!”

I’m glad there were a few of us, because we got a chance to share sides, every one of which was delivered exactly right. Bone marrow mash had a richness that ended forever debate about how to make a proper mash. Baked beans proved that, yup, Beanz don’t (necessarily) Meanz Heinz. Chilli Slaw was spicy and crunchy, rather than limp and wet. And sprout tops were green but tasted naughty while definitely one of our five-a-day.

And yes, those pickles – brined in that juice – crunchy, sweet, sharp. Virgin Picklebacks all round!

5/10 of Time Out’s top 100 dishes

Beef Ribs at Duke’s Brew and Que

Beef Ribs

Disappointing. That’s the word that springs immediately to mind – this was one of the dishes on the list that I was really looking forward to. I love ribs (usually of the pork variety), but had had the joy of the gargantuan monsters that are beef ribs on a trip to the States, and was ready for another go at facing them.

“This is worrying…”

“This is worrying…”, I said to Rachael, lifting the steak knife sat on the tray next to the ribs, slaw and pickle.

“Why?”, asks Rachael.

“Surely we shouldn’t need a steak knife? The meat should just melt off the bone”. I was joking, but the moment I said it I had a feeling this wasn’t such a silly thought. Indeed, my first major complaint was the texture.

I’m not demanding a pulled-pork consistency, but this meat was genuinely tough. I certainly did need the steak knife to deal it. Second complaint: the presentation looked good enough, but there frankly wasn’t enough space on the tray to safely tackle the cutting and dicing process, especially after we’d splurted (totally delicious) home-made hot sauces onto the edge of the liner.

“Surely we shouldn’t need a steak knife? The meat should just melt off the bone”

I tried pulling the meat off the bone, and then cutting it smaller when safely not attached to an uneven surface, but it was joined by a rubbery, cartilaginous tissue that I wouldn’t recommend making the considerable effort to chew. Okay, so I can’t blame Duke’s for the physiognomy of cows – I’m guessing this is an issue that applies to all ribs of the beef variety – but all the more reason why the meat needs to have been smoked to within an inch of its, er, life, so you can eat the meat and leave the rubber to the bone.

Rachael and I have discussed the taxing question of portions. Specifically: ordering one portion or two. We’ve come to the conclusion that we each need to have a full measure of each dish, since quantities are very much part of what makes a dish great. Or, rather, we’d assumed that a dish might fail on the back of portion size. We’d imagined this was more likely through meanness, but both agreed there was way too much food involved here. Perhaps it’s sized for the appetites of our transatlantic cousins, but one of these massive ribs would have been approaching a meat-sweats quantity for me, and two was frankly absurd. This could be an unfair complaint to level (surely too much is better than too little), but combined with the first two, both of us found the meal became a chore, and gave up two-thirds of the way through.

Rachael at least got a doggie bag!

95/100 top 100 dishes in London