In Dublin we’re always a few steps behind London (who, in turn, are generally only aping New York) when it comes to food trends so right on cue, 2012’s most popular ones, American barbeque and upmarket fast food for those not paying attention, have been appearing over the past year. Of course, there’s something dreadfully hipsterish about all this culinary buzz chasing but really what’s the alternative? A joyless monochrome Puritanism and bacon and cabbage in perpetuity? There’s nothing wrong with taking inspiration from other parts of the world as long as it is done well and isn’t shameless me-tooism.
This latter point has caused a bit of controversy as some have questioned how closely the menu in Pitt Bros resembles the only other barbeque place in Dublin: Bison Bar. And they are very similar, the meat choices, in particular, being virtually identical, but something to note here is just because the cuts are the same that doesn’t mean the treatment they receive will be. As I’ve mentioned before, there is huge variety within the various barbeque traditions of the Southeast of the US so if you see pork ribs on offer you’ll have little idea of how they’re going to taste unless you know in what regional style they’ll be cooked.
I’m willing to give Pitt Bros the benefit of the doubt because there’s little room to manoeuvre for them, their pork and beef options are simply the most popular and classic preparations you’d find in the States and they’d be crazy not to include them on the menu. All that’s left then is chicken, which you have to include for those people who don’t actually like eating out. Anyway, competition is good for us diners and I can’t imagine the next smokehouse will deviate a lot in execution given how much the mark up on brisket and ribs must be.
Bad news first though, the food here isn’t up to the standard of Bison, my beef arrives tepid verging on cold and very dry but with a beautifully deep smoked flavour; thankfully, I can rescue it with lashings of the outrageously good hot sauce: I could eat buckets of this stuff and end up dumping it on chips and into my beans before eventually dispensing with any pretence of decorum and devouring it unaccompanied straight from the bottle – the sooner its available to buy takeaway, the better. The pulled pork fares much better, with plenty of fat and juice but not enough smoke and it still isn’t as good as you know where’s. A side of bone marrow mash is excellent and those beans are pretty decent even before they’ve been doused in chipotle laced rocket fuel.
Something Pitt Bros scores much higher than their competitor on though is child-friendliness (a whisky bar just isn’t a suitable environment for children): there were lots of buggies in when we were leaving and the music is loud enough to drown out any crying, either from your own brat or someone else’s. Everybody wins. The staff were also really helpful in this regard, giving us the pick of the tables and having the kitchen rustle up a combination of sides for the little fella. Still, with a rival as impressive as Bison, great service can only get you so far and it’s in the kitchen, or should that be pit, where the gap between the two will have to be closed.