Restaurant reviews

Break all the rules with The Pit’s new no-borders menu

The Pit, to us, used to be all about barbecue and food from the Southern states of the USA. Recently, their menu has been given something of a twist as they’ve embraced a no-borders policy, introducing Mexican plates that now sit alongside existing American-themed dishes.

The Leeds barbecue scene is over-saturated now, and with the fairly limited number of Mexican restaurants in the city, it seems like a sensible move from the folk behind The Pit. We were invited down to see for ourselves whether The Pit has spread itself too thin with its new approach, or whether the concept of breaking the rules actually reaps rewards.

The menu features small plates, which have a much stronger Mexican/Latin American theme, and bigger plates, so it’s easy to sample a wide selection of food, but equally as straightforward to tuck into a large portion of one of your favourites.

After a chat with our waiter, we decided that the best way to get a good feel of the menu would be to opt for the small plates approach. Coming in at three for £12, or on offer at 2-4-1 on a Sunday, the small plates option is an affordable way to share different flavour combinations.

To get ourselves in the mood for the switch to the Mexican side of the menu, we ordered (at £2.50 extra) some warm flour tortillas with a salsa dip. These were nicely warmed through, were still soft to the touch, and the dip packed enough of a punch so as to make it an interesting nibble.

We then ordered the mac n cheese balls, hot wings, loaded nachos, South American fishcakes, cajun chicken bites, and cajun chicken tacos. We also ordered that traditional American side: onion rings!

The mac n cheese balls had a decent crunch to them on the outside, with the satisfying gooey middle. For that no-rules approach that The Pit is showing, there was also some accompanying tomato salsa. This brought a welcome freshness to the deep-fried dish.

The wings had a good level of spice to them, although they perhaps weren’t the meatiest wings you’ll ever eat.

Moving on to the nachos, we thought they pretty much nailed the brief in terms of what makes a good nachos dish. We had chosen to add pulled pork to our nachos and the lashings of toppings, melted Jack cheese, and crunch of the nachos made this a winning dish, if a tad messy to eat.

The tacos did everything you’d expect (including being difficult to eat!) and had enough flavour to them to hold their own, whilst the fishcakes provided a much-needed change in direction compared to the other dishes. The sweet potato, lime, and jalapeno brought out the delicate flavour of the haddock without overwhelming it.

The real winning dish, though, was the cajun chicken bites. The crunchy buttermilk chicken had stayed moist during the cooking process and the only caution we’d give you here is to make sure, if you’re with your other half or on a date, that you both eat some: there’s some serious garlic involved here!

Finally, we decided to round off our evening with a trip back to the USA and a salted caramel popcorn sundae. This was exactly as good as it sounds; the ice cream was ‘proper’ ice cream, the popcorn introduced a welcome texture difference, and the salted caramel sauce was sweet but nicely balanced.

In a crowded restaurant scene, The Pit has kept itself fresh and interesting without losing its core appeal. If you fancy breaking the rules and mixing cuisines, this is the place to try.

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