Restaurant of the Week: Bardot

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Bardot, 206 W. Bonita Ave. (at Harvard), Claremont

For 21 years the corner of Bonita and Harvard was home to Harvard Square Cafe, perhaps the quintessential Claremont restaurant: largely outdoors, urbane, cozy and slightly boring. But the cafe closed in 2012 and after extensive renovations, interrupted by weeks or months when nothing appeared to be happening, its replacement, Bardot, opened in March.

Co-owner is Alain Fournier, who founded Harvard Square before leaving it to other hands in 1995 and opening Caffe Allegro. Bardot is updated with a more modern look: more white, more light. The interior has a bar as its centerpiece. (Longtime residents, by the way, will remember the distinctive brick building as the Village Theater.)

As with Harvard Square, the patio — now shaded by a canopy — seems to be the spot, especially if you want to be one of Claremont’s beautiful people, the envy of anyone walking or driving past. A friend and I had dinner there recently and chose the patio.

Bardot’s menu has small plates, salads, sandwiches and a few entrees; it’s described as French fusion, but there are only a few French dishes, perhaps because even Claremont can’t support an outright French restaurant. Main courses range from $14 to $38. There’s also wine, 16 beers in bottles or on tap, and a selection of cocktails.

We stuck to the lower end of the food spectrum with $14 entrees: My friend had the croque monsieur sandwich with tomato bisque soup, I had the portobello sandwich with fries (both pictured below), and we liked them both. She had a Pomona Queen beer ($7), I had a refreshing water (free).

Judgment: We liked the place, and the food was fine, although we weren’t blown away.

Two minor but noticeable downsides: The overhead misters are overactive and practically enveloped my friend in a cloud of spray. (See photo at bottom, shot on a different evening, for an example. When we ate, the misters ran until about 7 p.m., kind of late given the mild temperatures.) Also, the chairs are a couple of inches lower than the bench seating around the perimeter, and consequently the table was a couple of inches too high for comfort for me.

Overall, though, the patio ambience is so pleasant that as long as the food and service are acceptable, which they were, Bardot was worth the splurge. “It’s so nice out here,” my friend said contentedly, and I had to agree. I don’t know if any passersby or motorists envied us, but I like to think they did.

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  • Joanne Dallas

    You are now a Claremont author and therefore one of the town’s beautiful people. You have earned your place on the patio. That outdoor space has always been an asset. I’m glad the restaurant has opened after such a long time. The corner complex has such landmark status. I saw “The Seventh Seal” there decades ago when the theater was the place to see interesting films thanks to manager Gene Harvey. After movies we crossed the street for ice cream at The Sugar Bowl which is now a fascinating shop full of Chinese art and artifacts. Lots of transmogrification to think about while dining on that patio.

    • davidallen909

      If the wait staff questions whether I’m patio-worthy, I will flash a copy of my book and I’m sure will be seated with profuse apologies. And I will think deep, complex thoughts about transmogrification!

      (Btw, Gene and I were just emailing this past week. He’s well and will be pleased you’ve remembered him.)

      • Joanne Dallas

        Give him my regards. We loved watching him dance with his wife before shows at the San Dimas theater. (I’m concentrating on slowing my transmogrifying these days.)

  • Bob Terry

    Patio-worthy? Touche’. I’m not too hip on $14.00 sandwiches, but great choice of Dale Bros. Pomona Queen. I’ll wait for a coupon…like not!

    • davidallen909

      You caught the Seinfeld allusion. If the misters had operated much longer, our table would have been sponge-worthy.