For my birthday my wife took me out for dinner. She knows I love southern style BBQ so she took me to a restaurant called Johnny Rebs’ in the city of Orange, CA. When we first pulled up to this restaurant I knew I was at a legit southern restaurant. The whole building looks like a southern shack and when you walk in you walk into a floor covered with peanuts… at this point you know the food is good. Seriously, how could a restaurant stay in business with dirty floors if their food wasn’t delicious?
Their whole menu looks good but since there were four of us we tried to order different things so we could at least try a little bit of everything. The above dish is the baby back ribs, hot links and southern fried chicken served with slaw and mac ‘n cheese. This wasn’t my plate but I had a few of the same items. The baby back ribs were smoked with hickory wood for a long time, to the point where they fall off the bone. Their BBQ sauce is a classic style which has a good blend of seasoning, sugar, drippings and just the right amount of acidity (vinegar). I really enjoyed their hot links because they have a good kick of heat but they also have a sweet note to them so it has a good balance. The southern fried chicken was delicious and it is prepared perfectly. The thing I love about southern fried chicken is how the skin is so nice and crispy but at the same time it sticks to the meat so every bite gets a good piece of skin, unlike deep friend chicken where the skin falls off after the first bite. Their mac ‘n cheese is great because not only does it taste rich and cheesy but it comes in a great side portion… just enough for a great taste without being too heavy.
The dish I had was the baby back ribs, beef ribs, southern fried chicken served with fried okra and mac ‘n cheese. Since I already went over the pork ribs, chicken and cheese I will skip to the beef and okra. Their beef ribs are extremely tender, my only complaint is that it would have seriously benefited from some kind of moister applied before they added BBQ sauce. Just like a quick dip in beef stock or beef jus (an extremely flavor packed liquid that is basically a super reduced broth). I really love smoked meats like baby back ribs, beef ribs, and pulled pork, I just wish the meat wasn’t so dry. That’s why when I make ribs I like to braise them, but they aren’t true smoked BBQ. Anyways, back to the beef ribs. Overall, the ribs were very tasty, just know you will use all of that sauce. Their fried okra we perfect, it is a simple dish but they executed it perfectly. The bread crumbs are nice and crispy and they were each individually fried to perfection. Eating fried okra is my favorite way of eating them because it hides their slime so well.
Their tri tip was pretty good, still not as good as Stone Fire Grill in my opinion, but it was still good. Stone Fire Grill cheats somehow because their tri tip is unbelievably soft and tender. It is as if they magically removed all the connective tissue completely before cooking it. The chicken fried steak was good, I just ate a bit of it but it was well cooked (crispy yet soft).
I don’t really need to go on about their southern fried chicken but it was good.
Generally speaking I have a sweet tooth, but I am the type that likes just enough sweetness because a lot of dishes are too sweet in my eyes. Most western desserts (American, European, etc…) tend to be heavy on sugar whereas eastern desserts (Asian, Indian, etc…) are usually subtle. Well the peach cobbler at Johnny Rebs’ is almost perfectly in the middle of too sweet and not sweet enough. In other words, it was spot on. It has the great fresh sweet notes of the peaches while the dough controls the sweetness against the cinnamon dusted ice cream. I was so full that I didn’t think I would have room for dessert but this dish made me change my mind… hahaha. I guess there really is always room for dessert (as long as it is an amazing dessert). If you enjoy southern style food than you better head over to Johnny Rebs’ tonight.