These dinosaur bones have become a rarity in these parts recently unless you want to pay through the nose at places like Tony Roma's. All-you-can-eat specials were popular fare in bars,steak houses, and restaurants that didn't specialize in smoked BBQ. I've read that places used to par boiled them in water or beer mixtures,some steamed them over water. Some places were claimed to slow roast them. Whatever the method,they were finished with sauce under a broiler or salamander. I don't recall any of these places finishing on a flame/char broiler unless they were a BBQ joint and finished over fire. Those places would probably have smoked the ribs first. That was uncommon and most BBQ places didn't serve beef ribs, only pork. Buffet or several by the plate was usual. They were meaty, unlike now where virtually every beef rib that you can buy is surface trimmed to the bone. Still,you still can find some decent ribs every so often when a bonless rib eye steaks are on special.
I've tried the boiling and foil cover rack steaming methods which turn out spongy and gnarly ribs. I've also tried slow roasting/basting with poor results too. Finishing any of these methods a few inches from the broiling elements with sauce hardly makes for good ribs. I have tried broiling the ribs directly on a rack about 5 min/side with a few minutes brushed with sauce and surprisingly they turn out much better then any of the other methods. Still,whatever the restaurants were doing either had something to do with the radiant heat from a deck oven sealing the meat or there's something else that approximated smoking that did the same at lower temperatures. I've heard that one secret may have been using gelatin powder mixed in the baste that sort of emulated the smoking sealing process. Whatever the process, these were never fall-off-the-bone soft ribs,but ribs that had a bit of a chew and tug.
I've posted in the chain section about how Victoria Station's ribs used to be made which is sort of what remember. The last,remaining restaurant appears to have adopted flame/char broiling from the descriptions that posters report. I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas about how many of the old non BBQ places used to do them.They generally were described as oven baked back then. So far,the closest that I seem to have come is direct broil just under the elements.