Restaurant of the Week: 2nd on Second Street

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CLOSED; currently Burger House

2nd on Second Street, 171 W. Second St. (at Thomas), Pomona

Opened in 2004 as the very good Second Street Bistro, serving French and Italian food, this location changed hands three or four times before becoming 2nd on Second Street earlier in 2011. If you think that’s a strangely redundant name, join the club.

It may have the most pleasant ambience of any place in downtown Pomona, rivaled only by Sakura Ichi. Housed inside an 1891 storefront, there’s exposed brick and a pressed tin ceiling, two slow ceiling fans, natural light and strings of carnival lights. The lights are new, as are a couple of flat-screen TVs that play silently, at least during lunch. Otherwise, the place looks as nice as ever. There’s also a sidewalk patio and a shaded patio in back.

The food, though, leaves a little to be desired. (See the menu here.) My first visit, I had a pulled pork sandwich ($8.50) with cole slaw; nothing wrong with it, but nothing exceptional either.

The other day I returned with a friend. We each had the black and bleu burger ($8.50), a burger with bleu cheese crumbles, fries on the side. I asked for mine medium rare, my friend asked for hers medium, and both of us got burgers that were overcooked. That aside, the burger was okay, a half pound of angus, but a little dry, and I’ve had better for the same price.

Service was friendly but unskilled. The server kept trying to take the jacket with the check despite our having settled back for a long chat and the jacket having been untouched. After two attempts, I half-jokingly placed a saucer atop the jacket. Next visit, she tried to take both.

A friend says he likes the dinners, especially the soups, and the musician on Saturday nights. The fact that the restaurant is keeping regular hours again, and is open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, is good news. I may even go back. But warily, and wondering if this version of the restaurant will last longer than the last few.

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Ceramics museum to open in Pomona

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Photo: Will Lester

The American Museum of Ceramic Art, opened in downtown Pomona in 2004, has relocated a few blocks north to the former Pomona First Federal bank headquarters at 399 N. Garey Ave.

After a private reception Friday night, the museum opens Saturday to the public from noon to 9 p.m., part of the monthly Second Saturday Art Walk centered a couple of blocks south along Second Street. Visitor information is here.

My Friday column (read it here) is about the museum and its founder, David Armstrong. The first exhibit, “Common Ground: Ceramics in Southern California 1945-1975,” is part of the Pacific Standard Time arts initiative exploring L.A.’s postwar arts legacy.

Seen above is a portion of the 77-foot-long Millard Sheets mural, “Panorama of Pomona.” Here’s an older view of the mural when the bank was in operation and one from last year, before the bank’s renovation.

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‘Maltese Falcon’ Sunday at the Fox

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This should be the stuff dreams are made of: the 1941 cinema classic, in glorious black and white, on the big screen at the 1931 Pomona Fox Theater. Time: 2 p.m. Sunday. Admission: $5 adults, $3 children. As a bonus, mystery novelist Denise Hamilton will be there to sign books and introduce the film.

A few added details are on the Friends of the Fox website. Read here about the movie, which caps Pomona’s Big Read programming around the Dashiell Hammett novel.

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‘The House That Sam Built’

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That’s the name of a current exhibit at the Huntington Library in San Marino devoted to the Alta Loma woodworker, who died in 2009, and fellow Pomona Valley artists of his generation.

My Wednesday column (read it here) is about the exhibit, which opened Sept. 24 and runs through Jan. 30. Above is the chair discussed in my column; the exhibit itself encompasses several rooms and more than 100 pieces: Not just furniture but paintings, sculptures, ceramics and other forms by Maloof’s fellow travelers. Well worth a visit.

The Huntington website gives more details about the exhibit and the institution’s hours and pricing. Learn more here about Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, the umbrella title for a series of exhibits on L.A.-area art history, of which the Maloof exhibit is one.

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Those (ugh) friendly people

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In reading Dave Barry’s “Dave Barry in Cyberspace,” he makes a (circa 1996) observation about a certain kind of person we’ve probably all encountered:

“I carry my laptop computer everywhere, and I’ve found it to be an invaluable tool for getting into deadly no-escape conversations with friendly people sitting next to me on long plane trips. You know those disturbingly friendly, Forrest Gump-like people who get on cross-country flights with absolutely nothing to read or do, so that after they have studied the barf bag (this takes them about 20 minutes) they start to prey, leech-like, on the passengers around them for entertainment? I am always — apparently it is an FAA regulation — seated next to these people.”

This doesn’t generally happen to me, but I’ve watched strangers next to me dig into the in-flight magazine as if it were the New Yorker, stare into space or become instant friends with the stranger next to them. (I request either an aisle or window seat, lose myself in a book and am generally left alone.)

I’ve also been in a jury assembly room in Pomona while people who have arrived empty-handed strike up conversations with strangers. A judge there once polled potential jurors, including yours truly, on what we’d brought to read and only a couple of us had books. One had a magazine and another had spent the morning reading the jury pamphlet. “You read that?” the judge asked, amused.

Who are these gregarious, Forrest Gump-like people who know they’re in for a long wait and yet show up with absolutely nothing to read or do?

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Ice, ice, baby

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It wasn’t snow out my window this morning in Claremont below Foothill Boulevard, but it was white. Frost? Ice? Whatever it’s officially called, I haven’t seen it close up in years.

Here’s some of it on my windshield; scatterings were also on my roof and under the landscaping. It was a co-o-o-old night, with heavy rain last evening — the perfect conditions to turn wet stuff into crunchy stuff.

Did you have any where you are?

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If you’re in a jam…

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In SoCal, this should be a popular place. This insurance office is located off the 10 Freeway in Claremont, handy if you want protection before you enter the onramp. If you need surface street insurance, you’ll have to keep looking.

I wonder what it’s like inside the Freeway Insurance office. My guess is the Muzak is talk radio. OK, your turn.

This is the latest in our insurance name series, which so far encompasses insurance for gladiators and safaris and hammers.

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RC’s Wii bowling champions

Sunday’s column (read it here) is about the national Wii bowling champions from Rancho Cucamonga’s James L. Brulte Senior Center.

I went to Wednesday’s RC council meeting because they would honor the team with plaques and I thought it would make a cute item. I interviewed three of the team members — first two, and later a third — in the lobby as they left the meeting. Also talked to two Senior Center employees who were also in the lobby. The fourth teammate seemed determined to stick it out in the meeting — he had more staying power than me, at least — so I left after an hour without speaking with him.

Anyway, the column item turned into a full-on essay, as sometimes happens. I wrote up some short items for the end but decided they would be anticlimactic and put ‘em aside for next week.

One item, though, will be too old by then. It’s probably too old now, for that matter. It won’t appear in print, but I’ll put it below.

VALLEY VIGNETTES:
* Two Pomona cops didn’t bat an eye Monday night when approached by a man in a domino mask. Could be because he was their server at Mix Bowl Cafe, they were on dinner break at the restaurant and it was Halloween.

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