Y’all get excited. BBQ has made its arrival onto the London scene. True, it all started last summer as a food truck under the Hungerford Bridge and has only been in a permanent space for the past three months, but I am just showing up to the party. Having grown up south of the Mason-Dixon Line in the South, BBQ was just a way of life. So much so that we had a pig roast the day after our wedding as a final Southern send off for guests. Pitt Cue Co did not disappoint. The ribs were amazing, as the meat was perfectly tender and fell right off the bone. The pulled pork BBQ itself was more of the sweeter variety, but oh so finger lickin’ good. The sides were delicious, and if you are seriously hungry or just take your BBQ by the pound, you have the option of ordering extra meat for only £5. Probably the most amazing thing about Pitt Cue (in my humble opinion) is the pickleback shots, which are a two part shot–the first being a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice. I first had one in NYC at one of my favourite little bars, Whiskey Tavern, and when we first moved to London, I tried as eagerly as possible to introduce them at parties, but received many a raised eyebrow by the Brits at my so called American hijinks. However, with pickles being gherkins over here and the majority of them being sweet, it has been only as a firm devotee that I have been able to hunt down dill pickles in Polish grocers. At Pitt Cue they use sweet pickle juice which was a surprise at first, but not all that bad. At this point some of you may be thinking, it’s all bad! It is not for the faint of heart. If pickles are not your thing they also have a great list of American whiskeys and PBR! I highly recommend Pitt Cue for a full blown Americana experience but do take note the space is small and they do not take reservations, so I would stick to groups of 2. Cheers!
Wild Turkey & ginger ale (£4) The cow was my bar tab!
Pulled pork with mashed potatoes with the burnt tips of the meat, pickles & relish £9
BBQ ribs with baked beans, pickles & relish £9
Picklebacks!! (£4 each)
Address: 1 Newburgh St, London W1F 7RB
Telephone: 020 7287 5578
Hours: Monday through Saturday 12:00pm to 3:00pm and 6:00pm to 11:00pm (NOTE: the kitchen is only open during the evenings until 10:00pm). Also NO RESERVATIONS so show up first thing or be prepared to wait….. the space is tiny.
LAB, which stands for London Academy of Bartenders, was founded to create a training school for bartenders in the 90’s. That lasted for about 3 years and lucky us its doors remained open as a bar. Their menu is a book (that has a table of contents) with 93 drinks listed as one amazing description after another (that is not even counting the standards i.e. negroni that you can order off menu). I just popped in briefly as it is located directly across the street from La Bodega Negra. I was intrigued from the street by its 70’s inspired decor and rule that there are no ties allowed (which I saw enforced at the door). Our drinks were both delicious and very reasonably priced for the area. Most custom cocktail bars get away with charging almost double the prices at LAB. They even offer a small menu of Japanese dishes and sushi. (amazing!) If you are keen on picking up some sweet skills yourself they host private classes for groups (8-15 people). I’m on it. Who’s with me? Cheers!
Negroni & Honey Drizzle Swizzle, both £7.50 (peekaboo)
Address: 12 Old Compton St, London W1D 4TQ
Telephone: 0207 4377 820
Hours: Monday through Saturday 4:00pm to 12:00am, Sunday 4:00pm to 10:30pm
Bow chicka bow wow…. Serge Becker, the man behind NYC restaurant La Esquina, has brought his magic touch to London and opened a Mexican den of iniquity (if you decided to judge a book by its cover). Yes that is the entrance. No I am not quitting my day job. Once inside, and you make it past the dapper gatekeeper, you descend into the restaurant which is set in a spacious brick cellar. The classy and intimate surroundings clearly juxtapose the racy entrance.
We dined at the restaurant on the third day of its opening week as they geared up for their first Friday night. The service was relaxed, attentive and friendly and the food was just as I remembered in NYC, delicious. Some standouts were the prawn taco, the tuna tostadita and of course the corn…. the Mexican version of creamed corn on a stick with a bit of a kick. As authentic Mexican food is hard to come by in London, place your reservations now. It is going to be big once word gets out that the sex shop really offers up carnal pleasures of the palate. If dining space in the restaurant is unavailable there is a more informal cafe and taqueria around the corner where you can order food for take away. Cheers!
prawn taco & char roasted mushroom taco (£3.00 each)
Guacamole, Crab and Tuna Tostaditas (£4.00 each)
scallop ceviche with mango and jalapeno (£11.00)
grilled corn with Crema Mexicana & fresh herbs & spices (£6.00)
Restaurant Address: 9 Old Compton St, London W1D 5JF
Hours: Monday through Saturday 6:00PM to 1:00AM
Sunday 6:00PM to11.30PM
Telephone: 0207 758 4100
The Holly Bush is an amazing English pub nestled away in the heart of Hampstead. It is an uphill trek that is well worth it once you have arrived. On the numerous occasions I have frequented the establishment the food has always been excellent and is comparably priced. They specialise in hearty portions that serve up a taste of local British cuisine in typical old style pub surroundings. Some of my favourites are the Scotch Egg and any of the British pies that are served with amazing mustard mashed potatoes. I highly recommend it if you are looking for something a little more off the beaten path. Also a quick note on British service. It is customary here for you to flag down your server when you are ready to order, need anything, or are ready for the bill. So do not be shy or else you will be waiting. Forever. Cheers!
Appetiser of (left to right) terrine, Piccalilli (pickled vegetables) sausage roll, scotch egg, & bread
Corn fed chicken breast with mustard mashed potatoes £14.95
Steak & ale pie with mustard mashed potatoes & vegetables £12.95
Bangers & Mash with caramelised onions £14.95
Sticky Toffee Pudding with clotted cream £5.75
The Holly Bush
Address: 22 Holly Mount, London NW3 6SG
Telephone: 020 7435 2892
Hours: Monday through Sunday 12:00pm to 11:00pm and serving food Monday through Friday 12:00pm to 3:00pm and 6:00pm to 10:00pm, Saturday 12:00pm to 5:00pm and 6:00pm to 10:00pm and Sunday 12:00pm to 5:00pm and 6:00pm to 9:00pm.
Fino is a great little tapas restaurant located in the heart of Fitzrovia. Its entrance is actually around the corner from its physical address and is a little hidden off of the main street. The hip and modest decor balances out the energized atmosphere and is well suited for groups or dinner for two. The dishes are flavourful and simply presented. My absolute favourite is the squid wrapped in pancetta and served with squid ink. A few select special dishes can also be made to order if notified at least 48 hours in advance such as the roast suckling pig (yes please), roast Pyrenean milk fed lamb, or fish, lobster and crabs sourced locally and prepared as you wish. It is perfect for a quick small bite or for a lengthy dinner with friends where you can continuously order plates as you go through bottles of wine. Cheers!
Chorizo & Potato Chips £3.20, Ham Croqueta £3.60, Pimientos de Padron £4.50
Queen scallops with fresh herbs & lemon £5.60
Squid with pancetta and ink sauce £12.80
Chickpeas with pancetta and spinach £6.80
Classic Tortilla £6.80
Address: 33 Charlotte St, London W1T 1RR
Telephone: 0207 813 8010
Hours: Lunch: Monday through Friday 12:00pm to 2:30pm, Dinner: Monday through Saturday 6:00pm to 10:30pm, CLOSED Sundays.