Thursday, February 7, 2008

Cecil's Texas Style Bar-B-Q


I'm not one to usually gush about restaurants. In fact, most restaurants around Polk County, FL pretty much suck. Then I walked into Cecil's Texas Style Bar-B-Q at their new location in Winter Haven, FL. Wow! I'll break my review into a few categories:

Appearance:

The outside of the building is quaint and neat. When you walk in, you aren't hit with that smoky barbecue burning smell like at some area restaurants. The inside of Cecil's is impeccably clean and bright. The floors have been mopped and there are not large puddles of bbq sauce for you to dodge. There are only three or four booths and a row of hightop seats that face the road. The only flaw I can find is that the seats in the booth are at a 90 degree angle to the seat backs. That's fine because it forces you to lean forward to enjoy more bbq goodness.

BBQ Goodness:

There's a dude at the end of the counter when you walk in that cuts your meat fresh and if you get a sandwich he runs the bun through a butter roller and toaster while he is cutting your meat. The pulled pork that I got was excellent. Not too fatty, but with a great flavor. The quality of the meat is unmatched by most everywhere that I've been. They also offer beef brisket, pork loin, ribs, chicken, kielbasa, hot links, ham, and turkey, of which I will be sampling in the near future.

Sides:

This is, in my opinion what sets Cecil's apart from the rest of the pack. I've had good Q from a ton of different places, but to quote my buddy Josh, "Ya'll got any sides?" Cecil's answered yes in a big way. Think Thanksgiving, but without the annoying family members and dry turkey. All the sides are made fresh and steaming hot. Steak Fries, Au Gratin Potatoes, BBQ Beans, Hot Beans (with jalapeno peppers), green beans, black eyed peas, fried okra, collard greens (EXCELLENT), sweet potato souffle, cole slaw (sweet and good), potato salad, cukes & onions, corn pudding corn on the cob, and the most amazing of all - Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes. The Jalapeno mashed potatoes are like an excellent mashed potato with just an extra little kick. Holy Crap they were good. They don't need gravy to hide their imperfections, because they don't have any.

Sauce:

Sauce is a deal breaker for me at some Q joints. I like a sauce with some kick but I'm not a fan of mustard based sauces or too much vinegar. Cecil's has three types: Sweet, Mild & Hot. They don't muddy the waters with too many combinations. I didn't like the sweet too much (which is unusual, because that's the one I normally am drawn to.) The mild is fantastic. It has a little kick and a great flavor. The hot is just a kicked up version of the mild. Next time I think I'll mix the two and have the perfect sauce combination.

Final Analysis:

Cecil's (est. 1992) has an original location in Orlando and one other Orlando location other than the one in Winter Haven. They have won many awards and you can see their full menu on their website. If I were to assign stars, I would give them five stars. If it was out of six and not five, they would get six stars. What follows is a list of BBQ restaurants that Cecil's crushes:

Sonny's
Woody's
Smokin' Jim's
Hog Heaven
Schack's
Jimbo's
and more that I can't think of right now

Go there, try the Q, try the Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes, try the mild sauce and tell me that you don't agree.

2 comments:

Mike Lombard said...

Dude, you wimped out. In your list of BBQ joints that you claim Cecil's crushes, you failed to make a statement about how it compares to Peeble's. So, what's the deal? Is it better or not? Make a statement if you dare!

Trevor said...

It crushes every part of Peebles EXCEPT the chopped pork. The chopped pork at Peebles makes grown men weep.