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Mr. Cecil, You Make Gooooood Ribs

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We don't tend to eat a heck of a lot of meat, chiefly because we don't crave it all that often, and are quite content in the land of fish and vegetables. But that's us, and even we break our own rules every now and then, especially when the reward is tender meat that slides off a bone oozing with spicy-sweet sauce and comes with a side of slaw. And we take our coleslaw seriously, and it helps if we're in to what it comes with. At Mr. Cecil's California Ribs in Sherman Oaks it would seem criminal not to order ribs!

Ribs aren't the only thing on Mr. Cecil's menu (there's a Catfish dinner, BBQ Chicken, Grilled Salmon, Salads, and Sandwiches, and even some strictly veggie fare, too) but ribs are in the name after all, so we went with it. Full, Half Rack, and Combo orders come with your choice of two sides (corn bread, coleslaw, hushpuppies, or beans). We ordered up some hushpuppies to sample as an appetizer, so our half rack of baby back ribs was dressed up with that coleslaw we were thinking about, and a generous wedge of cornbread. It was an off-hour at Mr. Cecil's, somewhere in that mellow gray zone between lunch and dinner, but our server was on her game, and extremely friendly. "Pour some honey in that dish of butter," she instructed us, "and eat those hushpuppies that way!" We took her word, squeezing our honey from the kitschy-cute honey bear bottle, and found that the sweet and creamy mix made for the perfect accent to the mealy, spicy hushpuppies, which were like jalapeno infused doughnut holes, only slightly more dense. Our meal came out quickly, and we took Mr. Cecil's advice as printed on the menu to "Kindly taste his ribs before adding any BBQ sauce." We opted to drizzle the sweeter sauce, and soon made short work of the meat, which was indeed tender and fell right off the bone. We tossed our bones in the giant baked beans tin that our server had provided for us, which was kind of fun. Our coleslaw was delightful, and a high-scorer in our lifetime tally of top slaw: Creamy but a little tangy, too. Naturally there was no room for dessert (not after we devoured that cornbread, that's for sure!) so we called it quits. BBQ, particularly at more "upscale-casual" joints like this one, tends to be an indulgence, price-wise. Here our meal was $15.95, which seemed rather reasonable. We truly paid in the form of a stomachache, since folks who don't regularly eat meat or anything fried like ourselves ought to know better. But it was worth it. Mr. Cecil, you make good ribs!*

Mr. Cecil's California Ribs
13625 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, (818) 905-8400 or
12244 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, (310) 442-1550

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*Canadian readers will perhaps get this food-related play on those old commercials: "Mr. Christie, you make gooooood cookies!" Or maybe not.