Panera Bread opens in La Verne today

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A new Panera Bread location opens in La Verne this morning in the old Michael J’s location. (Here’s a photo after the demolition.)

Address: 2315 Foothill Blvd. (at Fruit Street), across from the giant McDonald’s. Regular hours: Monday to Saturday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sundays 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Menu: Soups, salads, sandwiches, coffee, artisanal bread and free WiFi.

Other area locations are Rancho Cucamonga, Chino Hills and West Covina.

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Restaurant of the Week: Pinnacle Peak

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Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse, 269 W. Foothill Blvd. (at Cataract), San Dimas; also in Colton, Santee and, believe it or not, Shanghai

I’ve passed Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse and its covered wagon sign many a time on Route 66 but had never ventured in until a recent visit with three friends. The restaurant, the first in a mini-chain, opened in 1967. It’s in a ranch-style building with a cow statue on the roof. They’re famous for their Western atmosphere, affordable steaks and no-tie policy, the result of which is hundreds of sliced neckties hanging from the rafters.

The interior has dark wood paneling, a cowboys and Indians motif, hanging lanterns as lights and red checkered tablecloths. Some of the seating is picnic style. We got a table.

I got the 8-oz. sirloin with baked potato ($19) and my friends got a full rack of pork ribs ($18.50), barbecued chicken ($11) and half-pound Wrangler burger ($8). The entrees came with a serviceable salad. My steak was delicious — steaks here are grilled over mesquite charcoal — and perfectly sized for a good but not heavy dinner.

The chicken was tender and moist and the barbecue sauce tasty. The burger was enjoyed. The ribs weren’t bad but were coated in a thick, goopy sauce. “It’s ribs at a steak place,” someone said with a shrug. We finished off the meal by sharing an apple cobbler a la mode ($5), which was very good. Check out the menu here.

Overall, we liked the experience, atmosphere and food, so-so ribs aside, and the price was right. Service was attentive and friendly. Tables get complimentary bread and a bowl of beans.

Why there’s a Pinnacle Peak in Shanghai, I don’t know, but if I’m ever in China, I’ll have to visit it. Not only do they clip ties there, but they have “swinging saloon doors” and their own mechanical bull.

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Mounted up in Montclair

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At 7 p.m. Wednesday, heading south on Central Avenue and stopped at the light at Mission Boulevard, I was startled to see two cowpokes also waiting for the light to change. Once across the intersection, I pulled into the gas station and grabbed these two shots.

The pair kept going past a natural stop, Farmer Boys burgers, which even has a drive-thru. One horseman was on a cell phone. Does the no-phone-while-driving law apply if you’re on horseback?

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The clocks of Cucamonga

A cell tower disguised as a clock tower is coming to the shopping center at Base Line and Milliken in Rancho Cucamonga, as a recent Bulletin story recounts. (Click on the link at the end of this post to read it.) Some of us wonder if the clock will tell time or be purely decorative. R.C. has a mixed record on this score.

A clock tower at a jewelry store on the Rancho Cucamonga side of Fourth Street across from Ontario Mills has stationary hands. It always appears to be 4:55 p.m., even when it’s, say, 1:53 p.m.

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Meanwhile, a clock at the Rancho Cucamonga Town Square shopping center at Foothill and Haven purposely can’t be seen from the street. Planners thought a working clock would be distracting, a rationale I never really understood on a street with billboards.

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The clockface within the Town Square does work. As illustrated by these two examples, taken in July and March, respectively, the hands move, although the clock is about 90 minutes fast.

Meanwhile, a clock at the Chaffey Plaza center at Haven and Lemon shockingly fulfills its function 100 percent. Someone should get out there right away and disable it.

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Metrolink free transfers continue

This may interest no one but Shirley Wofford and myself, but the sweet deal from Metrolink — in which your train ticket allows you to also ride MTA buses, subways and light rail for free — is apparently going to continue for some time. The Daily News says the new-ish subway turnstiles won’t be locked anytime soon because getting other transit agencies, including Metrolink, to agree to use a universal transit card is taking longer than expected. There had been talk last year that a new system would go online in July.

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Bob Dylan in concert in Ontario

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No press credentials were issued for the Bob Dylan-John Mellencamp concert Thursday at Citizens Business Bank Arena, preventing our music writer and a photographer from attending, but as a fan I bought a ticket on my own dime and, from my seat in the third row, did the best I could with a digital camera (motion made most of my photos blurry, I’m afraid).

Dylan alternated between guitar and organ. Other band members seen in these photos are, from left, bassist Tony Garnier, guitarist Charlie Sexton and drummer George Recile. Out of camera view were rhythm guitarist Stu Kimball and multi-instrumentalist Donnie Herron, who played banjo, mandolin and pedal and lap steel.

Mellencamp had a similarly eclectic band, which included a violinist and an accordionist. He strode around the stage, which sometimes, such as at right, put him within about 20 feet of me.

Look for more about the concert in Sunday’s column. Click below for Dylan’s set list, taken from the excellent Bob Links website. That’s where you can see Dylan’s 2010 itinerary, which so far has ranged from Tokyo, Japan to Sturgis, South Dakota.
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Restaurant of the Week: Dolce

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Dolce Cafe and Bakery, 8821 Central Ave. (at Arrow Highway), Montclair

Located in a retail center that includes Tokyo Kitchen and Bombay Bistro, Dolce opened in 2007 in the anchor spot. The interior space is cavernous, probably two or three times larger than strictly necessary, with high ceilings and a wooden floor. They ought to roll the furniture away at night and hold ballroom dance classes.

Dolce does breakfast, lunch and dinner in a bistro setting (a very large bistro), everything from muffins and shrimp crepes to panini sandwiches and salads to pizza, pasta and steak au poivre. Its website describes Dolce as a “Euro Asian inspired bakery” with “an eclectic Italian inspired menu.”

Ambitious. I haven’t tried the $10 to $16 dinner entrees, but I’ve been in for lunch a couple of times this summer.

The chicken canneberge (pictured) ($7.25) was chicken salad with cranberries and candied walnuts, apple slices and romaine in a garlic herb pocket. For $1, I upgraded from a salad to the tomato basil soup. I was pleasantly surprised.

On a later visit I had the chicken florentine panini (also $7.25), with grilled chicken, bacon, sundried tomatoes, provolone and spinach artichoke spread, accompanied by a side of slaw. Not bad.

The setup is slightly confusing, in part because the space is so large it’s hard to know what to do. (The website has a video that gives you a fair idea of the layout.) If you want a baked good, go to the case to your left. If you want to be waited on at a table, go to your right and take a seat. If you want to avoid paying a tip, go straight ahead to the U-shaped serving stations, where you can order, pay and have your food brought to you.

There weren’t more than a half-dozen customers on my two visits. I can only guess that Dolce got a sweet deal on the rent and that the catering side of the business brings in the dough.

The food is pretty good, and items like Bistecca alla Portal (“sirloin smothered in a red wine reduction and topped with tomato mango chutney”), Pork Chasseur (“tender center cut pork chop with a rich mushroom and tomato infused gravy”) or Fire Grilled Vegetables certainly sound delicious. This might vie with Cafe Montclair as the city’s most ambitious restaurant. Just know that you may have most of the dining room to yourself.

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