The venerable retailer, which was located in Ontario from 1929 to 2015 before moving to Upland, is closing this summer. Also: Fox 11’s Matt Johnson reflects on his Ontario childhood, and more items from around the valley, in Sunday’s column.
Rancho Cucamonga now has its own Hollywood-style “Cucamonga” sign on the Chaffey College campus. The whimsical piece by artist Amy Maloof has been up for a few weeks but is now finished with lighting and landscaping. I write about that, with a bit about the adjacent Wignall Museum’s renovation and opening, in Friday’s column. Also: Hooray for Fridays. Above, Maloof with her piece, partly blocked by an annoying pole.
Metro Ale House, 197 E. 2nd St. (at Gibbs), Pomona; open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday to Sunday
Taking over a 1925 building that originally housed a dry goods store, Metro Ale House opened in 2015 after two years of renovations and, according to its slightly bitter “our story” on its menu and website, five years of red tape. (There’s litigation.)
I had seen the interior at one point during the construction and was impressed at all the effort being expended. The brick building is three stories tall, with a basement tavern, a restaurant and bar on the main floor and an events center on the top two floors for wedding receptions, private parties and such.
I had never eaten at Metro until a few weeks ago. A friend and I were meeting for lunch on a Monday at the Rookery, which turned out to be closed Mondays; ditto with Dia de los Puercos, the next restaurant as we walked east on 2nd Street. After crossing the street, we saw Metro Ale House and figured, why not?
We sat near the bar, ordered water and perused the menu. It has appetizers (and many more than is typical, probably since they make for good bar food), salads, sandwiches, tacos, pastas, seafood, steaks and chicken. As you might suspect from the wide-ranging menu, there’s something for everyone, but probably not the best versions of anything.
My friend had the Santa Fe salad ($14), with romaine, bacon, peppers, corn, avocado and chicken, tortilla strips and pico de gallo. No foodie, he said with a shrug, “It’s a salad.”
I got the fish and chips ($12), cod fillets in a Guinness batter with seasoned fries. These were acceptable, if not as good as at O’Donovan’s a block away.
On my way back from the men’s room, I saw a number of well-dressed folks taking the stairs up to an upper floor for a post-funeral luncheon. And there were a fair number of customers on the main floor where we were. Metro Ale House likely fills a need, especially on weekends and as an event space, or as a bar.
It gets 4 stars on Yelp, for whatever that’s worth, but I wasn’t enthusiastic about the place, at least as a lunch spot. Had my friend and I kept walking east, we would have found Slummin’ Gourmet, which would have been a more satisfying choice.
For Wednesday’s column, I write about discounts (and reports of discounts) available for us 55-year-olds, as well as about claiming my first.
On a visit to Cravings in Chino, which is half Asian grocery, half Asian food hall, I spotted a display devoted to this breakfast beverage. I was relieved to see that the drink is flavored with milk rather than with real children.
I notice and yet don’t notice (you know how it is) this art piece outside The Habit in La Verne. On a recent visit, I noticed and took photos. It’s titled “The Angle of Repose,” was installed in 2008 and was by artist Stephen Elicker. Click on the photo below for a more readable view of the plaque. It seems to be two abstract animals — cats? seals? — tossing a ball back and forth. But that’s just what I see.
Enough feedback on my recent John Stewart item came in that I wrote a new, longer item on the gruff-voiced singer who spent his teen years in Claremont. After that comes a visit to two art museums, also in Claremont, and a Valley Vignette, not from Claremont, all in Sunday’s column.
Norma Tanega, 80, is a longtime Claremont resident and musician (“Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog,” etc.). Her art is the subject of a Claremont Heritage exhibit that opens Saturday. I sat down with Tanega, a true original, for an amusing, awkward interview. That’s my Friday column.
Menkoi-Ya Ramen, 333 W. Bonita Ave. (at Yale), Claremont; open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 to 11 p.m. daily except Wednesday, closed
Menkoi-Ya was the first ramen specialist in Claremont, opening in January 2018 in the former Full of Life Bakery storefront. Since then, Ramen Lounge has opened a block away. I liked Ramen Lounge fine, even if the skater decor and casual service would repel a ramen purist.
Having been there, it was time to try Menkoi-Ya, which I did during my recent staycation, walking in for lunch one early afternoon. (Note the hours above; they close between lunch and dinner.) It’s a much more traditional environment with paper lantern-like lampshades, forest green walls and a wall-length mural. The music was modern alternative pop, but not too loud, and service was noticeably calm and polite.
The menu has appetizers, rice bowls and nearly a dozen styles of ramen. Most have a pork broth, but there are a couple of vegetarian versions.
I got the house Menkoi Ramen, with pork broth, shoyu base, toro chashu (slices of housemade pork belly from a sort of loaf), takasuimen noodles, green onions, dried seaweed and bamboo shoots ($8.50), plus a soft-boiled egg ($1).
The broth was subtler than at Ramen Lounge, and the noodles, made fresh, are stretchy, chewy and crinkled. For all I know the chashu was excellent for its type, but I didn’t think the pork added much to the experience, and I’m a pork fan. Still, this was a tasty, filling bowl of ramen.
One advantage of sitting at the counter, as I did, is that you can’t be observed fumbling with your noodles or chopsticks. In fact you’re looking at a short wall, unlike at an American-style counter. I actually handled the noodles fairly well. Having been an occasional customer at Full of Life, I recognized that where I was sitting was essentially where I used to stand to place an order of breakfast granola. Ah, nostalgia.
I liked Menkoi Ya and would return, in part to try one of the rice bowls but perhaps for another bowl of ramen.
Localchella concerts come to downtown Pomona once again. I have the list in Wednesday’s column. Plus: Record Store Day news and, you may be relieved to learn, a few items that are not about music.
I’ve done Localchella column items the past few years and those columns end up in my Top 10 most-viewed online for that year. Probably they’re getting a lot of Google search traffic. No fool I, I make a point of writing them the next year too. Besides, it’s nice to occasionally serve a younger audience — something I, and newspapers in general, should probably be doing more of.