Pitt Cue Co. (Southbank)

I sharpened my elbows and scythed through the hoards of tourists lining the South Bank, eyes firmly on the prize: Pitt Cue Co. Stationed underneath Hungerford Bridge, a purpose built van is serving up American-style BBQ for the next four glorious months; be still my beating heart. A friend and I have been waiting for this place to open for weeks, following their every move on Twitter, waiting for that call. As said friend is currently living it up in Japan eating warm cod’s sperm (I’m told), I took it upon myself to check it out and report back.

This food is different to the BBQ style we are used to in the UK; Americans, as far as I can tell, tend to dry rub large pieces of meat then smoke them for a long time, cooking indirectly, before finishing with sauce. Pulled pork with slaw and pickles anyone? Brisket with beans and more pickles? Ribs? Rotisserie chicken? Smoked corn? Hello!

No woman should plunge into a meat feast without lining her stomach appropriately; we ordered two ‘picklebacks’, which come either with, or without, ‘skin’. A pickleback for those of you who don’t know (I didn’t), is well popular in the Deep South, and consists of a shot of Bourbon (never too early) followed by an equal-sized shot of pickle brine. The ‘skin’ is strips of pork crackling. You drink the bourbon first, its peaty warmth shooting down your throat, soothing anaesthetic; you follow quick smart with the brine, sweet and really pleasant, extinguishing the effects of the bourbon like it never happened. I felt momentarily sad and empty until a little pot of bubbly pork crackling arrived; we demolished the salty pig snacks in seconds.

Brisket

Attention turned to the brisket, billed as a special. Cooked for 12 hours plus, the meat was, in the words of my boyfriend, ‘so tender it’s like beef spaghetti’. Each bite exploded with juice, sauce and all round BOOM, flavour. Wearing white trousers while eating this = major error. It came with slaw (you can choose between beans and slaw) and sweet, crunchy, spiced pickles: inhalable. On the side, two slices of rye, made by Bridget who runs Wild Caper deli in Brixton; she bakes it every morning in the burning furnace of Franco Manca’s pizza oven, before they start service. The pulled Gloucester Old Spot pork had also benefited from 12 hours plus in the smoker. I marvelled at the tender strands which swerved any danger of claggyness. Beans too; baby-food comfort with bite. A hunk of bread is necessary to soak up juices but doesn’t dominate; a wise decision not to serve the meat in buns in my opinion.

We chat to Zeren Wilson as we eat, perching on stools out front. He tells us that Tom Adams, the chef behind the show has worked at the Blueprint Cafe before embarking on this and he’s only 22. He cheers as we order two picklebacks, “the first two of the day!” and he seems bursting with excitement, as he should be. There are drinks too, Brew Dog’s Punk IPA, now in cans (one of my all time favourite beers); The Kernel, a London pale ale; Sambrook’s Wandle; Burrow Hill cider. We are strongly encouraged to think about picklebacking ‘Fighting Cock’ bourbon next time we visit. These people are talking my language. Go.
Pitt Cue Co.

Under Hungerford Bridge from 1pm to about 10pm, Wednesday-Sunday.

29 thoughts on “Pitt Cue Co. (Southbank)

  1. Well I shall be seeking these people out in November. We get some good Pig, tried the bacon, superb. Same place as the Hogget. I only found them recently at a market called “Ermington Sustainable”. Pit Q are on Eatst if I remember correctly, defiantly hitting some Eatst places in November.
    Gloucester Old Spot really rocks. My new found pig is a cross breed, can’t remember what. Will upload to my blog.
    Another great post, your blog is cool.

  2. “Was on the South Bank looking for dinner last Sunday. Went to the Indian beach cafe pop-up, which was nice, but this looks soo much better (and better value!”

    Just to point out that we went along on a Sunday night (at 9), and Pitt Cue was closed… Words can’t begin to describe how disappointed I was. I’d been looking forward to it all the way from Somerset.

    Disappointment was magnified on visiting Dishoom, home of the bored-looking staff on the planet, who sucked all the birthday joy out of my bones… Bah!

  3. Oh my goodness thank you for this! I went there on your recommendation. It was amazing, and I didn’t even get any meat! I talked about the adventure in my blog – which is not a food blog- because it was so momentous! (http://wp.me/pDkhO-3Y)
    xxx

  4. Argh. Was on the South Bank looking for dinner last Sunday. Went to the Indian beach cafe pop-up, which was nice, but this looks soo much better (and better value!)

  5. Been wanting to try this out after hearing so much about it. Thanks for the review. Will venture down this week sometime.

  6. I’m new here, picked you up on the recent Guardian Word of Mouth thread about blogs and books.

    This sounds fantastic and I do wish I could try it — but I’m on the other side of the world and no, the Chinese do not know much about BBQ — other than the Mongolians that is. Down here on the South China Coast it’s douse charcoal with kerosene, fling in a match, and the quickly cook meat before the flames die down. How they havn’t all got cancer heaven knows!

    Interesting blog and I’m glad I found you — I shall be returning.

    Thanks and all best
    Liz

  7. There’s nothing southern about a pickleback. That’s a Brooklyn invention. Pickle juice and bourbon go nowhere near each other in the south. Look forward to checking the place out and seeing if their pulled pork is up to standards!

  8. Tried the food today, probably the best bbq I’ve tasted so far, on this side of the pond. Well done guys, great job. Anyone who hasn’t tasted this yet is missing out!!

  9. We went here last week (I sent my husband your blog post to persuade him!) and had an amazing lunch. I’m not usually a fan of any kind of pickle but I ate all of the ones that came with my box of pulled pork and coleslaw as it tasted amazing. The hot sauce just made it perfect.

    We didn’t get picklebacks as OH had to rehearse with his band later but hoping to pop over there tomorrow to take advantage of bank holiday monday booze!

  10. just went, pulled pork is amazing! Also the cabbage, mustardy and delicious! Avoided the booze though, Friday in work is sleepy enough without liquor!

  11. YEA HA …. Mosey on down to Hungerford Bridge and grab some Pickleback … Well done team Pitt Cue Co

  12. I’m taking my Mum to Southbank for a day of art galleries and London Eye-ing for her birthday in a couple of weeks and was trying to find somewhere good for lunch, this looks perfect! I can’t wait to try a pickleback.

  13. How the hell did I not hear about this place before? I’m near it almost every day! Picklebacks with skin sound like my idea of heaven…..I’m off down there tonight I think, I can wait no longer! :)

  14. Wow. Very keen for some proper BBQ. Might they be encouraged to slip the juicy, smoky meat between a couple of slices of bread?

  15. Hi Alice – I could have phrased that a lot better. In this case, they are dry rubbing the meat, then smoking it for a long time and adding sauce. Mmmm. I have heard that there are dry and wet methods, and I’m not even from America! Holy smokes!

  16. “Americans, as far as I can tell, tend to dry rub large pieces of meat then smoke them for a long time.”

    I’m not from the barbecue part of the country, but I’m pretty sure American BBQ falls into two styles: dry rub and wet rub.

    In any case, glad to hear there’s an American BBQ-style place you’re keen on (versus the overpriced silliness at Barbecoa). I’ll look forward to checking this place out!

  17. Wish I could pop out to this place for lunch, but it’s a bit of a trek from Cornwall – not doubting it would be well worth the journey though, my soup just isn’t going to hit the spot now!!

  18. OMG – This place is absolutely amazing. I only wish that I still worked by Southbank so that I could eat this for lunch every day!

  19. Yum!

    Life got to be good when you have a US style BBQ truck in my home city. I’m dribbling all over the meatfest on my screen.

  20. I’ve been wondering for years why nobody has opened a decent US BBQ/soul food restaurant in London… why are we stuck with places like Bodeans, there’s definitely a market for good pulled pork, brisket, cornbread, proper baked beans, coconut cream pie (cue Homer Simpson drool on my keyboard). Absolutely can’t wait to try the Pitt Cue Co.
    Now that we’ve imported decent Mexican food and burgers from Stateside it’s definitely time for the ‘cue.

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