In order to eat at the for­mer site of Pitt Cue restau­rant just off Carn­a­by Street, din­ers had to queue in the street, some­times for hours. The reward was a cov­et­ed place down­stairs in the 5‑table poky cel­lar space, or perched at the cosy bar upstairs.

The rea­son peo­ple were pre­pared to wait was due to the impec­ca­bly sourced pro­duce, bar­be­cued meats and inven­tive bar. Menu items includ­ed smoked Man­gal­itza pig from the own­ers’ farm in Corn­wall, home-made flat sour­dough bread filled with a pud­dle of drip­ping, and mon­ster smoked beef ribs, mar­i­nat­ed till the meat lifts in sweet hunks off the bone. On the sub­ject of prove­nance, the own­ers of Pitt Cue want­ed to find an alter­na­tive to the pork we most­ly con­sume today, which is bred to be lean. This inevitably comes at the expense of taste, and this jour­ney of dis­cov­ery lead to them find­ing Man­gal­itza pigs which have far more fat, and plen­ty of mar­bling to ensure ten­der­ness and a won­der­ful taste.

For 2016, Pitt Cue has relo­cat­ed to a huge space, fit for the city-meets-hip­ster area of Liv­er­pool St. The week-long soft launch has been packed out. The old Pitt Cue had a cramped kitchen where only three could work in com­fort, where­as the new place has a shiny, effi­cient engine room open to the din­ers; behind a bar, you can see the chefs bob­bing about, cook­ing the meat on a fear­some beast of a grill (pic­tured above) – I stood with the chefs next to the grill for bare­ly a minute and the heat it gives off is intense.

The bar is a par­adise for bour­bon and mez­cal lovers and the move has allowed them to expand their rum col­lec­tion too, plus offer a seri­ous wine list. I tried the Mez­cal Mule, a per­fect­ly bal­anced mix of mez­cal and gin­ger with lime. So refresh­ing is this com­bo I could have con­tin­ued chuck­ing it down my throat with aban­don, thank­ful­ly I did­n’t as three of the bug­gers pro­duced a hang­over, but then I am a light­weight, and of such an age I am appar­ent­ly no longer able to process alco­hol efficiently.

“Drip­ping bread to share” was the first item to arrive at our table: a whole, round, trea­cly loaf with a coat­ing of meat juice drib­bled over like icing on a bun, and served with home-made but­ter. Rab­bit broth came next, a del­i­cate-look­ing clear soup dot­ted with a few colour­ful morsels of veg­eta­bles. The soup tast­ed con­cen­trat­ed and robust, and the bread was accom­pa­nied by a rab­bit paté so light to be almost foamy.

Next came two del­i­cate discs of home made sausage, topped with shav­ings of fresh veg­eta­bles: sweet­bread with cele­ri­ac and – my favourite – chick­en and cep which had an ori­en­tal flavour.

Grilled carrot, soured cream & walnut at Pitt Cue
Grilled car­rot, soured cream & walnut

Our mains were Man­gal­itza loin chop, a big chunk of pork cov­ered in sweet onions, and smoked beef neck which I pre­ferred as it had a denser flavour. Accom­pa­ny­ing the beef is a piece of bread which has been left under the grill to soak up all the smoky beef juices.

Smoked Beef Neck at Pitt Cue
Smoked Beef Neck at Pitt Cue

To accom­pa­ny the meat feast we had: grilled car­rot, soured cream and wal­nut; mush­room and bone mar­row mash; and grilled kraut and smoked eel cream – this lat­ter veg­etable I found too vine­gary-sharp in taste. No sur­prise we were too full to try one of the desserts and I did want to try Rarebit, or Lardy Cake Mar­malade & Ice Cream..

Cocktails at Pitt Cue
Cock­tails at Pitt Cue

Although I was fond of the ram­shackle quirk­i­ness of the for­mer site, this move was inevitable. The new Pitt Cue feels like a prop­er grown-up restau­rant with room to accom­mo­date all those peo­ple who used to end up queu­ing in the street for hours, and it’s a chance for the own­ers and chefs to make the most of their ‘real food’ phi­los­o­phy and sense of adven­ture. I’ll be going again, but leav­ing room for dessert next time.

Pitt Cue, 1 The Avenue, Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4YP.

Pitt Cue card

For more smoked food, you could try buy­ing online from these guys Cow­ley’s Fine Foods

Cowley's Smoked Foods at Bearded Theory
Cow­ley’s Fine Foods

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