Editor's note: Pittcue went into administration in June 2019.
Barbecue joint Pitt Cue closed its cramped and tiny Soho premises in January 2016 and moved to a much smarter and larger location in Devonshire Square. Unlike the 18 seats it could manage before, the new premises can deal with up to 100 covers at one time, with further seating outside. The kitchen has a large grill as the centrepiece, custom built for the restaurant and shipped over from Michigan. Oscar Holgado is in charge of the kitchen. He worked at Percy & Founders and also at Fera and Marcus Wareing,
The menu is quite meat-oriented, though on the day I visited they also had a couple of fish specials. The wine list was especially strong in California but ranged quite widely. It had labels such as Auntsfield Pinot Noir 2012 at £46 compared to a shop price of £20 and Pahlmeyer 2010 at £200 for a wine that will set you back about £92 in a shop. Tours de Mons 2000 was listed at £62 compared to a retail price of around £25 and was drinking beautifully.
Potato cake was a reconstituted thinly sliced potato that was deep-fried, essentially an unconventional plate of chips. It was accurately seasoned and clean tasting (14/20). Mangalitsa scrumpet was a croquette made from the meat near the head of the pig, and had plenty of deep flavour (14/20). Sauerkraut with salad cream was also surprisingly good, with good texture and just enough sourness (14/20).
Lamb, whey and pistachio sausage was particularly good, there being some balancing sourness from a pickle with it that went very well (easily 14/20). The star dish was smoked neck of Mangalista pork, a Hungarian breed noted for its fat that was sourced from Devon. The slow-cooking resulted in very tender meat with plenty of deep, smoky flavour, a treat (easily 15/20). Celeriac and hazelnut salad was a pleasant accompaniment to all the rich meat (13/20).
Desserts were pleasant rather than dazzling. Buttermilk with rhubarb was the best of them, the acidity of the fruit providing a freshness to the dish (13/20). Coffee was from a Devon company called Reads in Sherborn, and was very good, avoiding bitterness. Service was friendly and the bill, with plenty of good wine, came to £95 a head. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a realistic cost per head would more typically be around £55 or so. Overall I enjoyed Pitt Cue here more than at its previous premises. The more relaxed setting feels much less frenetic, and the better kitchen equipment has enabled the chefs to produce more consistent dishes. Grown-up barbecue.