Restaurant of the Week: Pomona Valley Mining Company

Pomona Valley Mining Co., 1777 Gillette Road (at Dudley), Pomona; 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday

Perched atop a hillside above the 10 Freeway, Pomona Valley Mining Co. is a destination restaurant with a theme. At the bottom of the hill, a sign on a weathered-looking shack points you in the right direction.

That requires a heart-stopping drive up the hill, one that it might be possible to get used to, but which freaks me out the handful of times I’ve done it. (Too bad I don’t still have that F-150.) Once up there, though, you’re rewarded with views of Pomona, the freeway and Elephant Hill. A seat near the bank of windows is a must.

The exterior is meant to resemble a Gold Rush-era wooden building, and wagons, lanterns and other such items decorate the drive up, the parking lot and the interior. The dining room is down a flight of stairs.

I was there for dinner recently with bloggers Dining in Pomona (and wife Mrs. C) and New Diner 2. It was a blogging summit meeting. As with most summit meetings, progress was incremental and deals were elusive. The only photo ops were of food.

I had had dinner at the Mining Co. precisely once and remember only that my cheapskate friends were irate that they were charged for soda refills, which I believe were taken off the bill. At noontime it’s a rental facility and I’ve been to a couple of service club lunches there.

The menu is largely steaks, prime rib and seafood. Two of our party got the shrimp and scallops ($26), one got the ribeye ($32) and I got the Miner’s Filly filet mignon ($34). Salad and soup bar is free with a meal or $18 on its own; you get a chilled plate that resembles a mining pan, except you’re panning for veggies, not gold. I had a little of the albondigas soup, which had (ugh) peas.

Cheese bread was delivered gratis (and au gratin). What’s not to like?

The seafood crowd was perplexed that their shrimp and scallops came in a cream sauce rather than a garlic sauce. (The menu says they’re “sauteed with garlic butter,” after all.)

The ribeye eater was put out by its preparation; it should be cooked “hot and fast,” leaving a char on the outside, she said. Also, her lemonade ($3.50) was never refilled. But then, maybe they don’t do free refills? Still, they should ask if she wanted another. She said that’s typically the way women are treated when outnumbered by men at a table, but noted ominously, “I have just as much influence on the tip.”

I may have been the only satisfied customer, enjoying my splurge steak with herb butter and mushrooms. Overall, though, the salad and soup were unexciting, the service average to indifferent and the mining theme a little dated. Here are the takes of Dining in Pomona and New Diner 2.

So, as a holdover from the era of theme restaurants — it appears to have opened circa 1977 — Pomona Valley Mining Co. is an interesting curio. The food’s okay. But if you go, it will probably be more for the views.

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  • DebB

    I’ve been there a couple times over the years, the last time maybe 10 years ago or more. And I’ve never understood how they stay in business. The food is too expensive, and not good enough to justify the price. Yes, the view is fabulous, but even that’s not worth the money! The one thing they do have is the old-school reputation of being a “really nice restaurant” for dates or special occasions.

  • Richard_Pietrasz

    I remember eating there once, in late 1979, a meal I remember mostly for the circumstances and people and not the food, but I vaguely remember it as being decent.

    The engineers I worked with in the early 1980s would often convene there Friday evening for drinks, and a look out the window to see the rush hour traffic we were avoiding. I suspect it was the bar business that kept them going. After a couple of drinks, a convenient meal to fill the belly and dilute the alcohol makes sense.

  • Bob House

    Odd how some “meh” restaurants go on for decades (without earning the title of “classic”) while many seemingly more popular spots die an early death. I ate at the Mine in the 70s-80s.

  • Susan Wickham Purdy

    The last time I was there maybe 20 years ago, a rat crossed over the back of the seat..I just couldn’t ever go back. But..back in the day 40 yrs ago it was a good place to go for special occasions .

    • davidallen909

      Why did the rat cross the booth? To get to the other side. Or maybe to get to the cheese bread.

      • Susan Wickham Purdy

        Good one David! Sure good to hear you in Chino last Saturday !

  • thebreadandtheknife

    I’ve been perhaps three times since it opened and share your reaction to that frightening drive up the hill. The location is awesome, but the prices are high. The shrimp and scallop dish (in unidentifiable white sauce–??) is a puny portion, and the generic rice (imitation fried rice with dastardly Killer Peas?) looks like a cafeteria side dish. Yours was the best choice (for meat-eaters). The salad bar looks interesting–a vegan could make a meal of of that–but at $18, it’s the most expensive salad bar I’ve ever seen!

    It’s odd that the lone woman doesn’t know that beverages other than soda and iced tea generally do not come with free refills (except at the Pomona Valley Mining Company, where nothing else does either); and for the record, I have often been swimming in iced tea by the end of a meal and frequently say “no” to the constant offers of free refills at restaurants. And I am female!

    • John Clifford

      Actually, at MANY restaurants throughout the area lemonade is often refilled as is iced tea.

  • SAWZ

    We used to have the City holiday parties there. I had also eaten there a few times in the past with friends and enjoyed it, but the rat post has done me in.