The Afro-Asian Cecil Experience 

After all the delicious eating that took place on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, I wanted to end my NYC trip trying a restaurant for a review. What attracted me to this restaurant, located at 210 West 118th Street, was the menu that incorporated an Afro-Asian-American culinary discipline. The website told a wonderful story of their history and spoke to infusing African traditions and history in every dish.

IMAG0871I made a reservation for 11:15am for brunch based on my schedule. I would still be interested in visiting the restaurant for dinner based on the menu. After a brief walk from my Airbnb stay located on 116th and Manhattan Ave, I arrived on time and was greeted by the hostess that was kind and welcoming. This restaurant is roughly a 7 minute walk from the B and C train stop on 116th street. After a brief wait of 5 minutes, it appeared that they had just opened and we’re trying to get everything situated, I was seated in the main dining room. The room was well lit by natural light and the art both in the bar area and the main dining room were intriguing. Once I took my seat, I noticed that the table was unsteady and needed something under it to steady it. When I notified the waiter, he was quick to correct the issue but was unable to do it successful and basically blew it off and it was the best that he could do. During my dining experience, other patrons had the same issue and were taken care of, though it was not always successfully either. I am sure this is not the first time the servers heard of this issue and it’s interesting that nothing had been done to correct the issue. Moving on to the food.

I ordered a small bottle of sparkling water ($4) but after about 5 minutes, the server came back with a large bottle. The restaurant had run out of the smaller bottles so he gave me a large bottle for the price of the small. Win! Because I was dining alone and wasn’t very hungry, I decided to forgo an appetizer (small bite) and order the Thick Cut Brisket and Eggs ($18) with a side of Scallion Grits ($8). The server highly recommended the Country Breakfast ($18) because of the scallion grits so I made sure to include that in my meal. That dish included maple chicken sausage, herb cheddar grits, and cornbread. But my order was also one of his favorites.

IMAG0869The dishes arrived pretty quickly. The Thick Brisket and Eggs was served with smoked brisket covered in a Hoisin BBQ sauce on top of sweet fried rice and topped with 2 fried eggs. The brisket was tender and very moist. The saltiness of the hoisin sauce and the soy sauce on the fried rice were at times overwhelming but the eggs and the yolk were able to balance out the flavors. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the dish. The different layers of flavors from the rice, brisket, and eggs very much reminded me of a popular Hawaiian dish called a Loco Moco. Overall, I would order this dish again at some point but I would definitely like to try a few other dishes on the menu.

IMAG0870$8 for a large bowl of grits is a bit steep. I recognize that it was a pretty generous portion of grits and all of the sides were priced at $8 but given the nature of the ingredients, this should be priced down a bit. The grits were quite flavorful and included some cream and savory flavors but still not worth the $8 price tag. I expected that the scallions would be possibly pan fried with butter and garlic and mixed in with the grits but the grits and scallions were pretty separate. It was a large bowl of grits with raw scallions on top.

Overall, the meal was tasty and I had leftovers that I decided to leave there purely because I did not have the ability to carry it on the subway and later the Amtrak. I would definitely see myself returning to this restaurant for brunch or dinner. The restaurant was clean and relaxing. Had I stayed longer, I would have heard some jazz from the band that were setting up as I was leaving. I spent a total of $32.66 and with a $6 tip totaling $38.66. A little high for a sober brunch but I still enjoyed myself nonetheless. Below is the Seven Mac Score of the restaurant:

The Cecil

Criteria Scale Score
Accessibility 1-10 9
Customer Service 1-20 17
Cleanliness 1-10 10
Food Presentation 1-10 10
Price Value 1-10 8
Taste of Food 1-30 27
Overall Experience 1-10 9
TOTAL: 90/100


Finediningdiva has been getting around lately. Please look out for my next post as I review a few spots in Denver as well as another one of Baltimore’s Best! And remember: It’s a BIG world and we are going to eat our way through it!



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