Restaurant of the Week: The Boiler

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The Boiler, 4665 Chino Hills Parkway (at Ramona), Chino Hills.

Reader Charles Bentley once asked us in vain about the presence of any New Orleans-style restaurants in the Inland Valley, after the demise of New Orleans Express/Crescent City Cafe. Well, we now have one, albeit with an untraditional take on the cuisine.

The Boiler, a restaurant offering “steam kettle cooking,” opened at the start of June in The Commons at Chino Hills. I had dinner there a couple of weeks ago with my Chino Hills friends. (Everyone should have Chino Hills friends.)

The interior is dominated by a U-shaped bar at which most customers sit. The menu is short and almost entirely seafood. They have gumbo, jambalaya, oysters and pan roasts, plus some pastas.

The sauces are made in advance from scratch and once you choose your item and the degree of spiciness from 1 to 10, they quickly steam it in a small kettle in front of you, put it in a big bowl and hand it over.

I had the pan roast house ($18.95) with shrimp, crab, lobster, clams and trinity in a tomato cream-based sauce. My friends had pan roast crab ($17.95) and pan roast clam ($13.95).

We liked the food and took home the extra. One remarked lyrically on the “layers of flavor.” We weren’t convinced of the accuracy of the spice levels, with my “4″ and another’s “7″ tasting about the same, but that’s fine. I never know what the deal is with the sauces they mix at your table at P.F. Chang either. You just accept the gimmick and move on.

The service was friendly, and the person who explained the concept to us and answered our questions turned out to be the owner. Surprisingly, this is a single-location business, although he hopes to expand. He developed the recipes at the Oyster Bar in Las Vegas.

Our group’s only quibble is that the prices (entrees $12.95 to $21.95) might be a couple of bucks high given the fast-casual setting.

You can view the menu online here.

And what is The Commons at Chino Hills? Just off the 71, it’s the latest happening spot in suburbia. There’s a Pei Wei (the 909′s sole survivor after the Rancho Cucamonga one shut down last year), a wine bar with live jazz named Wine Down, a Lucille’s BBQ, Corner Bakery, Wahoo’s and BJ’s, not to mention a Lowe’s and a Toys R Us, with more stuff coming, in theory at least (what with the economy and the developer’s bankruptcy).

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  • Doug from Chino Hills

    Yes! Pei Wei! You reviewed Pei Wei a while back, and then I commented that that is walking distance from my house, and then you reviewed Masala two weeks ago and I said that that is also walking distance from my house, and you said, “What was the other one?” and I couldn’t remember. It was Pei Wei!

    We (my wife and I) are eating at Pei Wei for lunch today (first time for us!). We ate at Masala (third time!) last week, partly inspired by your blog. Now we have The Boiler to add to our list. The Chino Hills Community Booster Club should be giving you a cut for all this.

    [Maybe my write-ups are part of a secret deal with your family to get you to walk more. But don't tell me you haven't been to Swasdee Thai, which is also within walking distance of your house. Or Peking Deli, ditto. Both were Restaurants of the Week here. More walking ahead... DA]

  • DAve

    Hey when you gonna do Fazoli’s??? I saw someone eating it to go once and it looked like somewhat high-class Italian configured for fast-food living.

    I like the first sentence because it makes no literal sense but it’s probably still clear my meaning. Must be awkward construction Friday or mebbe it’s just too early yet.

    [Whether it makes sense or not, DAve, your comment is the 3,000th published on this blog. Hooray! As for Fazoli's, I ate at the one in Ontario a couple of times when it opened and got annoyed at the way they kept shoving breadsticks at me. -- DA]

  • Charles Bentley

    GREETINGS:
    Thanks, David, for remembering my prior plea. Although I, too, have Chino Hills friends, I had not heard about this newest addition to the list of local eateries. I guess Pei Wei and Lucille’s drew most of the attention. I look forward to giving this spot a try and hope it will still be with us when Fat Tuesday rolls around in 2010.

  • Bob House

    #3002: Your meal sounds great, but this owner has got to re-think that name/sign: no cooking technique says “boring” more eloquently than boiling; no mention of “New Orleans” or “seafood” and a large portion of the menu is called “roasts.” Do you recall what drew you to this restaurant originally?

    [An acquaintance told me about the concept (New Orleans seafood cooked while you watch) and it piqued my curiosity. You make a good point about the sign's name and opaque motto. -- DA]

  • Jennifer

    Thanks, David, for your constant great information. I must now try Broiler as well.

    By the way, though, have you ever tried Swirls? It’s a yogurt and crepes store on Mountain. You should try it out. The crepes are to die for!

    They made a great idea called swirls crepe which is what I tried. I like both crepes and yogurt and that’s exactly what it is!! Freshly made crepes before your eyes, then rolled into cone for yogurt and choice of three toppings. My son had a sandwich crepe which he devoured!

    Very cute and simple store. People should try it all. Crepe prices are affordable yet tasty too, unlike the store at Victoria Gardens which costs nearly $10 or more.

    Anyways, letting people know if anyone interested in some nice refreshing dessert any time of the day. (I’m a believer of word of mouth…not to mention that this cute place is simply awesome! Great service by the way~)

    Jennifer

    [Hadn't heard of Swirls but will track it down sometime. It sounds like if I go, you and your son will probably be there. -- DA]

  • DAve

    Bahhhh!!!

    Breadsticks!!!

    The bane of the enlightened gourmand!!!

    Only 3000? That’s a shame — you got a real nice place here and it’s too bad more people don’t know it — anywaze congrats.

  • DebB

    On your recommendation, last night I took my mom and niece to the Boiler for my niece’s birthday. The people were very nice, the owner came and spoke to us several times and insisted we taste his clam chowder, on the house. It was absolutely delicious! Even the chef came and spoke to us.

    My mom had trouble ordering, because she’s so sensitive to both tomatoes and spicy food (she’s 92). But she finally settled on the shrimp scampi and liked it very much. My niece and I both had the Pan Roast House and LOVED it! The sauce is amazing, the seafood generous and well-cooked. The dish is very filling, and both of us took some home.

    I do have to agree with Bob House about the signage, and the dish name “Pan Roast” leaves you confused, especially since it’s cooked in a steam kettle, not roasted! And altho I think the setting is a bit nicer than fast food, yes, it is a little pricey. But now that I’ve tried the food, I’ll be back! Thanks for the review!

    [You're welcome, Deb. And to make a general comment, I always appreciate hearing from others who've tried the same place, either before or after it's featured here, to see how their experience matches up. -- DA]

  • Ian

    I saw this restaurant’s ad on newspaper today. “Steam Kettle Cooking… Southern Style Dishes… Cajun/Creole seafood”… still not quite sure. My wife and I went to the Boiler tonight. She said this restaurant got pretty good review online and David Allen has been there too. She has been to a similar restaurant in Las Vegas. Now this one is a lot closer to us than Vegas. We should give it a try.

    I ordered pan roast house and my wife had Bouillabaisse. I based on your recommendation but my wife picked her entree because the picture shows lot of seafood in this dish. I liked my pan roast, shrimp, clams and lobster are fresh, except a little less than I expected with the price. My wife made the right choice. Bouillabaisse, tasted just like what we had when we were in Provence. Awesome! Lots of seafood. Just like how you described — put the pre-made sauce into the steam kettle and cooked with seafood a simple yet flavorful dish.

    With the big chains Lucilles, BJs, Corner Bakery in this plaza, wish the Boiler still be around, so we can go celebrate Fat Tuesday.

    When were about to leave, the Chef suggested we try gumbo next time. He said that you wont be disappointed and you wont want to have Lucilles gumbo after trying ours. Ill definitely be back and see if he is right and will keep you posted.

    [Thanks, Ian. -- DA]

  • Ian

    My wife didn’t feel like cooking and we have a big BBQ party tonight. So we came back to The Boiler for lunch. Suggested by Chef Ritter from last visit, we tried Gumbo — another dish that “wowed” us! I’m not a food critic, I just love to eat. Can’t say it’s the best but definitely way way better than Lucille’s. And lunch pricing is very reasonable.

  • http://www.CHPP.groupsite.com John Bruner

    We had a small group meeting at The Boiler. Located in The Commons at Chino Hills, we found management to be very cooperative. We ordered the appetizer sampler and it was delicious — especially the shrimp. One of the members who visits the site frequently informed everyone who was staying for dinner that the Roasts were also excellent. This restaurant is family friendly and handicap access is not a problem. Check the website http://www.theboilerskc.com for hours and visit us at http://www.CHPP.groupsite.com for information about how we help Chino Hills businesses achieve their on-line success.

  • John Melendez

    Where did Chef Mike Ritter go?

    Did he open his own restaurant?

    Did Shelia follow him as well, she is a great pastry chef.

    [No idea, but perhaps someone knows. -- DA]