Pitt Cue Co, Oxford Circus

Pitt Cue Co is one of those places I have always wanted to try but never quite had the energy to queue for. The tiny Southern American BBQ joint is thrilling customers night and day but with only 20 seats, waiting is pretty much guaranteed. So when a Monday lunchtime opportunity arose, I grabbed the chance to visit this eatery and prayed for a couple of free chairs.

We were in luck, the place was almost full, but not quite, enough room for two small girls on the end of a table. I glanced around the dark downstairs chamber and was surprised to see that not all the diners were big burly men, obviously this BBQ cuisine appeals to women too.

The concept is simple: choose your meat plus a side and enjoy. Pitt Cue Co make all their own sauces and rubs and their meat is cooked low and slow, smoked in-house and finished over charcoal. The produce is British, ethically sourced and the menu changes with the seasons. The small scale of the restaurant makes it feel very homely and reassuring. There is no mass production here, and when one dish runs out, guests have to just choose an alternative, first come first served.

Between us we tried the pulled pork, house sausage, bone marrow mash and grilled baby gem lettuce with anchovy dressing. The meats were served in very generous portions and tasted absolutely divine: bold flavours, rich and juicy especially with the sweet gravy. Pulled pork was particularly succulent, whilst the sausage had a moreish meaty taste but if I’m being fussy was a tad too salty. Next time I go I would love to try the ribs, which looked amazing on the next door table. The mash is ultra smooth and rich and provides the perfect accompaniment to the meat, the lettuce though a little bitter from its grilling was crunchy and refreshing.

For just over £10 each we enjoyed the best BBQ meal I’ve tried in London. No bookings, reservations, or bribes are taken and now I’ve witnessed the BBQ brilliance, I wouldn’t mind a short wait in the cold to try it again.

More information here.

http://www.pittcue.co.uk/

Cinnamon Soho

Cinnamon Soho is ideally situated for Carnaby Street shoppers in need of sustenance. I was surprised to find the atmosphere and mood very different to Cinnamon Kitchen which I visited a while back near Liverpool Street. This boutique restaurant is cosy and intimate, perfect for catching up with a friend, or enjoying a quiet relaxed meal. Posh Indian food seems to be growing in popularity at impressive speed. The Cinnamon restaurants offer high quality food without the pretentious dining style, they seem to have got the balance just right.

We ordered a selection of small dishes to start, petite plates attractively presented, all smelling divine… Naanza, an Indian pizza, this sounds bizarre but was surprisingly yummy, a thin doughy base topped with delicious spicy vegetables and cheese. Burnt chilli Indo-Chinese stir-fried chicken was my absolute favourite, intensely flavoured moreish marinated meat with soft pieces of pepper… it was too spicy for me and yet so delicious I couldn’t stop eating it. The only disappointment was the Roasted Aubergine chutney and carom seed ‘mathri’ – it was a bit bland, and the dip was a strange murky green colour, not very appealing or tasty.

CS offers a select menu of signature and classic cocktails, all appropriately influenced by Indian flavours and ingredients. We chose two of the most extravagant sounding concoctions: ‘Burning with Passion’ (vodka over proof rum, orange juice, passion fruit and strawberry puree) was suggested by our waitress and the light ‘Bhangra Bubbles’ (Rum, Chambord, homemade spiced syrup and champagne). They were very different drinks, the Burning with Passion is a long fruity drink, arriving spectacularly aflame and sparkling, Bhangra Bubbles is very sophisticated, a subtly flavoured glass of champagne.

Mains were sublime, we shared the Old Delhi-style black leg fenugreek chicken and Smoked saddle of Cumbrian lamb with spiced onion sauce. The lamb was beautifully cooked and spiced, we loved it so much we were fighting over the final slice of tender meat. The sauce was creamy and sweet and complemented the lamb well. The chicken reminded me at once of a cross between tandoori and tikka masala, a crispy spicy piece of chicken with a tomato based sauce. This was a comforting and filling dish, a lovely recipe especially when paired with the fragrant pilau rice. Perfectly thin and crispy naan, lightly brushed with garlic oil was the ideal ‘mopper–upper’ for the remnants of the addictive sauces.

Both desserts were amazing… an exotic Mango and cardamom crème brulee was thick and mousse-like, delicately flavoured with cardamom spice. My homemade sorbets were wonderfully refreshing, the peach flavour was lovely but it was the Pina colada boule that really excited me, a drink that I usually don’t even like turned into a sensationally sweet and coconutty sorbet.

If you like Indian food you will love Cinnamon Soho, delicious dishes created with flair and style, I was impressed.

More information here: http://www.cinnamon-kitchen.com/soho-home