The Meat Sampler – March 23, 2018
Last weekend I did a quick 48-hour trip down to Orlando, Florida to watch a few rounds of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with my dad. I flew down first thing Saturday morning, we watched pretty much all day, ate dinner at STK – Orlando, and repeated the same thing Sunday. When the invitational was complete, my parents wanted to get dinner before I flew back and we decided BBQ was our choice. We weren’t near a 4 Rivers Smokehouse so I opened up the Yelp! app and did some researched and Cecil’s BBQ was only a few minutes away.
Looking over the menu and seeing the nice variety of smoked meats they had, my dad and I decided getting the Meat Sampler was the best way to go to get a good sampling of all the smoked meats they had.
The meat sampler included four side dishes so we got baked beans, jalapeno mashed potatoes, collard greens, and potato salad.
I will admit that the appearance of the plates of food looked AMAZING! Starting with the sides, everything had your traditional look and they just looked delicious. The meat platter looks like a lot of food and if I’m being honest was a lot of food for my dad and I (my mom had a few pieces). When I inspected each meat individually you could for the most part see the infamous “smoke ring” that BBQ is known for. Some meats had it more than others.
Taste wise…the sides didn’t disappoint in any fashion. The Texas Toast was buttery and crispy. The greens, with a little hot sauce added to them, were spicy and salty. The jalapeno mashed potatoes were actually very complimentary flavors. I hadn’t seen many/any restaurants do that mixture but Cecil’s did a really good balance of jalapeno heat and earthiness of the mashed potatoes. The potato salad was also really good. I find myself going back and forth between white or yellow potato salad. Sometimes my flavor pallet fancies the creamier white and sometimes it’s the tangy of the yellow mustard potato salad. Cecil’s may be tipping the scale in the white potato salad as it was good sized but soft chunks of red potatoes and a balanced amount of cream. The baked beans I wasn’t overly impressed with which was a little bit disheartening as BBQ and baked beans are typically hand in hand.
The meats flavor ranged from excellent to just OK. If I had to rank the meats in order of my most favorite to least favorite it would be: pulled pork, ham, sausages, spare ribs, turkey, & chicken. I’m going to put the emphasis of this post on the pulled pork as it was excellent! It had a strong but not too strong smokey flavor, tender, and still moist without having to drown it in sauce. It had the smoke ring on some of the bark pieces which were mighty tasty. The portion that we had was still very easily pulled apart even more implying the tenderness was super all while still maintaining a good level of moisture with the meat. The ham, sausages, and spare ribs were good but not great. Hints of smoke were evident in the taste but needed some sauce. These three meats were moist but these are also difficult meats to dry out.
I was disappointed in the chicken and the turkey though. They were dry and needed some sauce. The turkey slices looked great as they had a solid bark on the outside, but the meat was dry still and made it difficult to taste the smoke as I had to use sauce with nearly every bite. Chicken and turkey are tough birds to BBQ and keep moist so it’s understandable and I’ve been there.
All in all, I enjoyed my visit to Cecil’s. I’d return for sure for the pulled pork. Maybe try it on a sandwich and topped with some coleslaw like my BBQ friends in the Carolina’s do. Accompany it with some potato salad or the collard greens and it’ll be a fine lunch hour.