Restaurant of the Week: Mes Amis, Chino Hills

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Mes Amis, 14720 Pipeline Ave. (at Chino Hills Parkway), Chino HIlls

Mes Amis opened in January in half of a contemporary glass and steel building just north of a busy intersection. My Chino Hills friends found it on Yelp (where Mes Amis currently gets 4 1/2 stars) and that night four of us had dinner before watching “Lost.”

The interior is sleek, with plenty of natural light, tables and no booths, a gold and rust color scheme, tasteful decor and a TV silently playing in one corner. Most of the cooking can be seen from the dining room.

The novelty, as outlined in Friday’s column, is that Mes Amis has two locations: London and Chino Hills. (Perhaps Paris was too crowded.) The owners are brothers, a continent apart, and although the menus are similar, each owns his own location.

The menu is Lebanese, but with a modern take, and the food shows a high level of care. We had a “journey,” one of four appetizer plates that cost $9.95 (for now). It had four items, like a bento box, and divided among four people, it was almost a meal.

Our entrees included mixed kabobs with lamb and chicken (pictured) and the Double Treasure, which is lamb patties with two sauces. The entrees were around $15. After the “journey,” we probably could have ordered two or three entrees instead of four. The meat was tender, the grilled vegetables delicious, the presentation thoughtful. We all liked our food quite a bit.

Service is non-intrusive and leisurely, by design. We certainly weren’t rushed; indeed, our server took our “journey” order and didn’t return to take our entree order until we had finished the appetizer. Owner Sammy Elias later told me that was slower than even he’d like, but that the idea is to slow down to eat as the Lebanese do.

Our suggestion would be a note to this effect on the menu, or an explanation from the server that could begin: “Have you dined with us before? Our philosophy is…” Many diners will embrace the policy, but it may be counterproductive (see the criticism on Yelp about the service) not to tell us what it is.

That quibble aside, we liked Mes Amis very much and are anticipating our next visit, and our next “journey.” The only local Lebanese restaurant at this level that I’m aware of is Casablanca in Claremont, and Mes Amis may be even better.

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  • meg

    Actually, the Casablanca folks own both Aladdin Jr.’s in Pomona. Plus I think the sweet couple who own the wraps place in Claremont Village next to Taco Factory (Wraps King? Something like that) are from Lebanon as well. Not sure about the Sacas, though.

    [Yes, but the operative phrase was “at this level.” — DA]

  • Bob Terry

    I was in Chino “proper” calling on accounts today when I made a wrong turn and found myself on Pipeline. So like any other devoted fan of David and his palate, I found that Mes Amis is one block north of Chino Hills Pkwy. on the west side of Pipeline before you get to the car wash. I need to check out their lunch menu since C Hills is way too far from Rancho for any dinner run.

    [Good field work, Bob! — DA]

  • Dee

    I’ve been passing this place for weeks assuming it was French, silly me 😉 , so I have to ask — why does a Lebanese restaurant have a French name? I’m dying to know!

    [Why not ask them over lunch? — DA]

  • Bob Terry

    Hey Dee, let’s do a recon, meet there for lunch, ask a bunch of questions and be David’s “field reps” for this outstanding adventure.

  • ray

    Dave, are you aware of the Heights Bar & Grill in the Upland Colonies ??? I think it’s owned by The Village Grill in Claremont… Nice place & food… It opened saturday may 29th. Ray

    [I heard the name somewhere — did they buy an ad in the paper? — but no background. Thanks, Ray. — DA]

  • rpfromrc

    The French were the European colonial power in Lebanon following the final fall of the Ottoman empire in WW1. This can be googled up in the same time it takes to ask the question.

    [Now Bob and Dee have no excuse to go to lunch. Well, except for the food. Thanks, RP. — DA]

  • Bob Terry

    Darn, I’m going to miss that furniture…maybe they can resurface as Ottoman Bros. or Living Ottoman.