Mr. Cecil’s California Ribs – Top 20 or So Food Words and Phrases That Are Better Left in First Draft

mr. cecil's california ribs, west los angeles, ca - ribs

Mr. Cecil’s California Ribs

12244 W Pico Blvd (@ Amherst)
Los Angeles, CA 90064

So I’m about to write this blog post about Mr. Cecil’s California Ribs and…

I’m stuck.

Not what to write – opinions are not difficult – but rather, how to write about Mr. Cecil’s.

mr. cecil's california ribs, santa monica, los angeles, ca - signThe words, they aren’t a’coming.

Every time this type of situation presents itself, which is frighteningly more frequent these days, I do the same thing. After heaving a sigh that would rattle the needle off the melodrama richter scale, I unroll my blogre hunchback (that’s blogre, as in blogging ogre) pulling my Coke-bottle-thick eyeglasses-bedecked face from its usual position 2 inches from the screen, lean back in my creaky desk chair, take a sip of whatever cheap cocktail I’ve poured myself in my imaginary glamourous life, and surf the foodish web.

Control+tabbing through my blogroll, eyes scanning the screen, darting across the page looking for something – anything – that will inspire me so deeply that I will rush and gush so fast and hard that my fingers on the keyboard will stumble all over the words in my head.

I am seeking inspiration. Anxious. Eager. Hopeful.


Everything reads exactly the samely (ooh la la, did I just make up an adverb?). Why? Why must every foodish writer use the same 20 or so words and phrases to describe food? It’s annoying. The words themselves are annoying. Some are too precious. Some are incorrectly used. Some are way way way extremely a lot overused. Some are just annoying because…They’re. Just. Annoying. The words shoot out of the paragraph into my eyes, stinging my brain and hurting my heart. It’s all I can do to keep myself from leaping up from my desk in utter frustration and stomping indignantly around my apartment in my eight-days unwashed sweats with my hands in the air wailing, “Can’t these people think of some new way to describe a piece of toro other than “melts in your mouth?!?!”

And just who the hell do I think I am, anyway, to think that I have the privilege – no, the rightthe right to criticize other people’s writing?!?!

Really, I don’t think I’m anyone. In fact, I pretty much know I’m a nobody. I just get annoyed easily. It’s hot, unusally humid for the Westside, and I am cranky as all hell because my day job is sucking every last drop of love and life out of my body, gargling them like mouthwash, and spitting it right back into my face. And yes, I am quite sure that every fucking serving of caviar does not “glisten like jewels.”

Top 20 or So Food Words and Phrases That Are Annoying for One Reason or Another

  1. to die for – No food is worth dying for. Not even Flamin’ Hot Cheetos dipped in Blue Cheese dressing and hand-fed to me by a half-naked Tyler Florence.
  2. food of the Gods – No such thing. God doesn’t eat. That skinny bitch.
  3. incredible – People use the word incredible when they really mean to say “really really good,” but incredible means unbelievable. This is just a nit because it doesn’t really say much about what’s being eaten other than maybe you didn’t eat it, maybe you did. We don’t know what to believe.
  4. like crack – What you mean to say is “highly addictive.” Is there something wrong with saying “highly addictive?” It has the same number of words. And what’s wrong with heroin? I think heroin is a lot more addictive (for the record, I have never used heroin, crack, or otherwise).
  5. toothy – This makes me think that whatever I’m eating has teeth. That’s gross. And scary. Like it might bite me back. According to the dictiosaurus, “toothy” means appetizing. There is nothing appetizing about a a slice of bread that might rip my tongue out. And by the way, toothy does mean it has teeth.
  6. earthy – The only thing that tastes earthy is earth. Earth is another word for dirt. If it tastes like dirt, it probably is dirt, or still has dirt on it. That’s nasty. Truffles are often described as earthy. Guess what? They taste like dirt.
  7. gourmet – Ever since French’s bloody slaughtered the word “gourmet,” and re-assembled it into GourMayo, something like the completely and utterly horrifying way a cute little farm animal’s unmentionable machine-separated parts are “re-assembled” into a hot dog, I hate this word. Besides, it has the word “gore” in it.
  8. foodie – I don’t think I need to explain myself on this one. “Foodie” is snob for “someone who eats.”
  9. flavor profile – That’s foodie for “taste.”
  10. melts in your mouth – Ice melts. Butter melts. This cliche is so overused it makes me nauseous.
  11. bursting with flavor – Another one that’s hackneyed.
  12. smooth and velvety – Banal.
  13. food coma – Trite. Oh god, I can’t go on.
  14. sublime – Sublime is a pchem thing. Something about solid turning directly into gas.
  15. unctous – Does anyone know what this really means? Yeah, thought so.
  16. ___-alicious – Really? Do you really want to be like Fergie? Okay, well, yes. I do. The Dutchess is the only one who can use this. If I see another form of -alicious like yumalicious, smackalicious, fuckalicious
  17. to perfection – Whose perfection? Yours? Mine? This is stupid.
  18. steaming hot – Redundant. If it’s steaming, it’s hot. If it’s hot, it’s probably giving off steam. Unless you’re in the Amazon, in which case, never mind and buy my something off my wishlist. Oh god, redundancy is so confusing.
  19. tastes like crap – Unless you have eaten feces, you can’t say this.
  20. EVOO – I will hit you. I will. I will domolecularlize myself and travel through the interwifi to come and slap that Yum-o Joker smile off your face. And if you ever say this out loud as “ee-voo,” as in rhymes with “review,” and not as the acronym, I will puke.
mr. cecil's california ribs, santa monica, los angeles, ca - interior
an interior to die for!

Now that I’ve gotten all that off my chest, let me tell you about the BBQ meal I had at Mr. Cecil’s California Ribs that was to die for!

Actually, it wasn’t quite a feast of the Gods, but that’s really no fault of Mr. Cecil. It’s just me. I wasn’t fond of the gimmicky exterior made to look like some dilapidated roadside shack, nor of the back barn interior of the dining room that was so busy with this, that, and the other that it looked like a country store had exploded into a garage sale. The restaurant was crowded, which is a good signal that the food is worth the wait, but to me, it just felt cramped, uncomfortable, and loud.

mr cecil's california ribs, santa monica, los angeles, ca - barbecue BBQ sauce
bbq sauce of the gods
mr cecil's california ribs, santa monica, los angeles, ca - beef
meat that melts in your mouth

Mr. Cecil’s menu is straight-forward. Three different types of ribs can be ordered alone or in combination with one another or with barbecued chicken. There are a few specialties like salmon, vegetables, and catfish, but you don’t go to a sushi bar to eat fried chicken (unless it’s chicken karaage, in which case, I’ll shut up), and you don’t go to Mr. Cecil’s California Ribs to eat salmon.

The prices on the menu seemed high, but when our orders of a Ribs Combination and Tri-tip came to the table, the numbers were justified. Half slabs of ribs could have each fed opposing football teams, and the tri-tip, which was cut and served like a steak, was thick and broad enough to serve as a platter by itself. Each order came with two sides, and though I am quite familiar with the popularity of such things as baked beans, cole slaw, and corn bread, I was intent on trying a food of my distant past, hush puppies. Those dark golden brown nuggets of deep-fried defuckingliciousness, along with Cheddar Bay Biscuits are the only reason I would ever set foot in a Red Lobster again.
I enjoyed the hush puppies for the memory, though I can’t figure out if they were dry because Mr. Cecil didn’t execute well, or that hush puppies are inherently dry and I just had some flavor amnesia from my childhood.

The ribs had plenty of meat on them, but other than that, they were nothing particularly special. Perhaps it was that they weren’t so tender that I could simply pull the flesh from the bone with a fork. The accompanying BBQ sauces were as thick as molasses (cliche alert!), and had a decent flavor. I am partial to high intensity BBQ sauces that are at once cavity-causing sweet and firrhea-inducing spicy, but the sauces were one or the other. I had no problem mixing my own BBQ sauce cocktail with generous splashes of hot sauce.

For some reason, a return visit to Mr. Cecil’s does not seem like a near-term possibility, but like I said, it really is no fault of Mr. Cecil. I am having trouble, you see, with ribs. Make no mistake — I have all kinds of love for BBQ and ribs. I grew up in Texas, and though San Antonio is less a BBQ-capital than it is the home of Pace Picante Sauce and Tex-Mex, still I have a thing for the better part of a cow resting on its charcoal laurels for a few. I have nothing but fond foodish memories of Cincinnati’s Montgomery Inn ribs. For heaven’s sake, I’m (supposedly) Korean and the second thing that pops into mind after stanky fermented cabbage when speaking of Korean food is galbee, bulgogi, dae-jee bulgogi, and other animal forms and parts that make up KBBQ.

When it comes to BBQ and ribs, I’ve been spoiled and am a little picky. I like my ribs to be so tender that they melt in my mouth, and sm
othered in a smooth, velvety BBQ sauce that’s bursting with spicy sweet flavor.

But the overriding factor is that in my grumpy old age, I am becoming less tolerant of 1) with the exception of actually cooking food, having to work in order to eat something (I have actually never been fond of grilling at the table for Korean barbecue), and 2) messy foods. Ribs are both.

I am such a prissy little foodie, aren’t I?

Who Else Ate at Mr. Cecil’s?
~ 40 reviewers on Citysearch give it an average 4 stars out of 5

** a year ago today, gucchi was not a handbag at akbar indian **
** two years ago today: we were early for cinco de mayo at el cholo and i made “ceviche” with avocadoes from westwood**

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  • The Cooking Ninja

    I love BBQ ribs :) They looks so delicious!

  • david hong

    Phillips BBQ – excellent food.
    I like the beef hot links.

    1517 Centinela Ave, Inglewood CA

    Also, take out at:
    2619 Crenshaw Blvd
    Los Angeles, California 90016

  • Sam

    Some of the best baby back ribs! My mouth is watering. Favorite in LA.

  • JF

    toro = hot sex on a platter (a la tribe called quest)

  • Anonymous

    Wow….. you’re like the annoying nagging girlfriend you’re dying to break up with of the blog world… and you wonder why you’re single?

  • sarah

    cooking ninja: i used to love ribs like nobody’s business, but for some reason, i am not loving them as much anymore. might have something to do with wet naps.

    david: when i worked in inglewood, we used to get phillips once a week. oh, how i loved that we always got an entire loaf od Rainbo white bread.

    sam: what do you think of baby blues BBQ? lots of folks talk about that place, too.

    jf: really? i think it’s more like french kissing a tuna.

    anonymous: oh no. no no. i don’t wonder. i totally know why i’m single!

  • FoodZealot

    I’m glad we agree on Mr. Cecil’s.

  • Anonymous

    If you want amazing BBQ try J&J Burger Shack & BBQon Adams, 2 blocks east of Fairfax. It is GOOD, ribs, rib tips, smoked chicken wings, potato salad. I get the sauce 50/50 it has a good balance.

  • sarah

    foodzealot: *meh* right?

    anonymous: thanks for the rec! adding to the YOUR TO-DINE list!

  • david hong

    The food nomenclature commentary was freaking hilarious.

  • hermz

    I’ve never had hush puppies that were not totally dry. Maybe my mom’s cornbread has spoiled me.

    As for Baby Blues, I totally recommend. The ribs aren’t transcendental good, but they’re excellent good. :P And as a plus, their mac’n’cheese rox. The chicken smoked rice is the tastiest non-stir-fried rice I’ve had in many years. And their banana pudding is just like the Midwest classic. When ya wanna go?

  • sarah

    david: thank you :)

    hermz: maybe they’re meant to be dry so that you have to dip them in sauce. or ranch dressing swirled with sriracha.

    baby blues…so near us! i am down, but not for a bit. this is the summer of sarah and i am on a “diet.”

    ooh, i said the “d” word.

  • Mike

    Not being a red meat or pork eater, I didn’t partake in Mr. Cecil’s signature ribs.

    However, just from observation, I could replace your cliche “food coma” with something more apropos: “Meat Sweats.”

  • sarah

    mike: HIIIIIII! um, love “meat sweats.” i am going to add to my new food dictionary :)

  • Megancake

    I totally agree with you on Mr. Cecil’s ribs, for moist and delicious hush puppies try Honey’s Kettle Chicken (everyone adores their chicken but I feel the only reason to go is the hush puppies)drizzled with honey they are amaaaaazing.

  • sarah j. gim

    cereal lady: oh my. perhaps i need to give honey’s kettle another chance. they really screwed up with me re: service. i think i waited over 30 minutes for my lunch!

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