Some restaurants in the Triangle region have become famous from being featured on shows like “Man Versus Food” and “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” and written about in magazines such as “Southern Living,” “Bon Appetit” and Zagat. The Pit is certainly one of those restaurants. Even though I have lived in the Triangle region since 1994, I had never had the opportunity to go to the Pit until my friend, Steve, said he had a coupon to use and he had also never been there.
So, we decided to try it the other day for lunch. Who would ever think when you pull up to a barbecue joint that there would be valet parking? That’s a bit fancy for my taste. When we first entered the restaurant, we saw a big glass room that houses all of their wines. Impressive, but again, am I in a barbecue place or a fine dining restaurant? I was feeling confused. We were quickly seated and I was admiring the lights and noticing the minimal artwork. Sure felt like I was not in a barbecue place!
Our waiter came over and was very friendly and helpful. Since Steve was ordering the pulled pork plate, I decided to try the baby back ribs. I haven’t had any ribs in a while (except at home) so I was excited. After all, I too remembered seeing this place on “Man Vs. Food” and had been dreaming about smoked ribs.
Steve pointed out to me that while the food might be great, they were a bit neglectful in the cleaning department. The dust on the shelves between the booths was really thick and very noticeable. I have to mention it, because that should never happen in a place like this. Perhaps they are just too busy to do a deep cleaning. I noticed there were some places you could sit right next to the smoker and watch the barbecuing in action. It would be fun to come back sometime and sit and watch them as they cook the meat.
When the food arrived, it was, indeed, very good. The pork was tender and finely chopped. It had a nice amount of our good-ole North Carolina vinegar-based barbecue sauce and had a bottle of more sauce if you wanted it a bit wetter. His macaroni and cheese side dish was also good. The bread crumbs on top were a nice touch. The cole slaw nothing to write home about and featured a very typical mayonnaise sauce. I actually prefer a vinegar-based sauce for the cole slaw, but very few places serve it that way.
The baby back ribs were glazed with a deep red barbecue sauce and the meat was tender and easily slid right off the bone. They really hit the spot! The collards were tender, but not overcooked and not at all soggy or too vinegary. They were just right. The fried okra had a nice coating of batter on them that was neither too greasy nor too thick. They were also seasoned well.
The one disappointment I had with the food was the hush puppies and biscuit. I thought the hush puppies were too crispy and full of oil. That’s just my taste though. You all may disagree with me. I waited too long to try the biscuit, so by the time I took a bite of it, it was cold and it had been infused with a butter product. I didn’t like that at all. Please let me put my own butter on the biscuit! My friend liked his biscuit more than I did, though, so maybe it was because his was warm and mine was cold (only by my own fault, not the fault of the restaurant).
We were really happy to have the coupon because lunch would have been $30, but instead was just $6 (plus tip). I can name at least 5-10 places in the Triangle that have equal or even better barbecue for much less money than this, so I think The Pit is riding on its TV reputation which occurred before Pitmaster Ed Mitchell left the restaurant. Just my humble opinion, but for the price they are asking, I would like to see even better food, cleaner dining room and less fluff.