When I first moved to the Triangle, everyone seemed to have their very own favorite restaurant and I tried as many of them as I could, but when it came to Restaurant Celebrity, there was a runaway winner. I first saw The Pit on an episode of Man Vs Food and then I caught The Pit in the middle of a throwdown with Bobby Flay. I can say w/o a doubt that The Pit became the first restaurant that I went out of my way to eat at. It was a summery, Sunday afternoon and The Pit was packed, but seating was available at the bar, I guess people don’t drink after church in NC? (That’s a joke, plenty of people were drinking.) The food was served to us in a timely fashion and let me start with the biggest surprise I have ever had:
I ordered a platter where I got to try three meats and two sides. For one of my meats, I bravely chose the fried chicken and I have to say that the fried chicken that I had at The Pit was far and away the best fried chicken that I had ever tasted in my life (it’s currently the second best I have ever had). I mean this was no ordinary chicken. It was very crispy yet moist and the breading was so good that I was eating crumbs of it off of my pinky finger. I destroyed my fried chicken and I remember looking around hoping that more would fall from the sky.
I was unimpressed with my sides and being unimpressed with sides is fine. I’m curious what side of mashed potatoes could impress me at this stage of my life? The Pit has very standard mashed potatoes. However, I got some stewed green beans that I know I did not eat and I think I sent them back for some baked beans, which I also did not like. The last time that I ate at the pit, I know there was some coleslaw involved and it was pretty good, but, yet again, nothing really stands out about it.
Next up on my platter was beef brisket and chopped pork, exactly what I came for. Now, I understand and respect that the pit does whole pig Bar-B-Que that is slow cooked in their very own…whatever and whatever, but, I’ve said it before and I will say it again, technique does not impress me; FLAVOR impresses me (and portions, but that’s for my weight counselor and I to discuss). I have never been more disappointed in pork in my life. I thought it was dry and the sauces were incredibly boring and two note (vinegar and pepper). So based on pork alone, I would never eat at The Pit again!
Were my expectations high? Absolutely AND I will also say that at the time of my first meal, I was not a fan of Carolina style BBQ (vinegar based), because I had only ever enjoyed Memphis style (sweet, tomato based). So I wrote my first visit off as “It’s just me.” But my girlfriend, who eats salt and vinegar chips for a living, also agreed that The Pit was disappointing. So what’s the finally tally?
When my friends and family started coming to visit, I always felt obligated to take them to The Pit because of its crippling celebrity status. To date: I have taken two college friends, my parents, my girlfriend’s parents, a bachelor party, and a double date to The Pit. Out of that group of people, 9 out of 12 thought that the food was okay, but they wouldn’t want to come back, 2 out of 12 liked it, but they wouldn’t want to come back, and 1, ONE, out of 12 really liked, but said they like Allen and Son more. So, final tally…not looking good for The Pit on my end. (And, for the record, these people all enjoy vinegar based BBQ, but, I always order the fried chicken and everyone always tells me that if they go back, that is what they want to order.)
So, my concluding remarks are this: I very hesitantly like The Pit. I really wanted to give it a thumbs down, just because it nearly deserves one, but I cannot do it. The restaurant is entirely serviceable, the wait staff is great, the friend chicken is practically a must for me and it has a cool atmosphere. So my final thoughts are: if you order the right thing, you might just enjoy your meal. Since eating there the first time, I have had a salad with a bacon vinaigrette dressing and it was was pretty good. Every time I go, I make sure to try their pork and their sauce, because I am at a point now where I like vinegar based BBQ and every time I get it, I really just don’t understand why The Pit is where all of the cooking shows go. I would rather eat at the Q Shack and I mean that.
Taste/Variety = middle of the road
Portions = mediocre
Price = mid-high
Service = high
Atmosphere = classy for a que place
Total Value = medium