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).