Sunday’s column reports on humorist David Sedaris’ Thursday night reading in Claremont, which I attended. I had expected only to write an item on it, but he ended up being the whole column. He’s pretty funny, so that’s right in my wheelhouse. Above, a photo of the video feed in the overflow room, where some 60 of us watched. It didn’t feel like a situation where one needed to applaud, since Sedaris wasn’t there to hear it, but people clapped at times anyway in appreciation.
I attended a cultural event in LA on Monday, a public talk by Patti Smith, the rocker, interviewed onstage by Jonathan Lethem. I don’t know if he and I were the only two people from Claremont there, but we may have been. That leads off my Friday column. After that: three Valley Vignette items and two Culture Corner items — one of them about Shakespeare, two of whose plays are being performed locally this weekend.
Java Bistro, 9090 Milliken Ave. (at 7th), Rancho Cucamonga; closed Mondays.
Did you know there’s an Indonesian restaurant in Rancho Cucamonga? It might be the only one in the Inland Valley. Java Bistro opened in February in a small complex that also has Gandolfo’s Deli. Reader Andy Sze drew my attention to Java Bistro’s existence.
It’s a small operation with only a few tables, plus a wall of grocery items on shelves, such as rice, dried shrimp and spices. The other wall has a photo mural of Indonesian scenes, very professionally done. (It was hard to get a photo of the dining room unobtrusively because it’s so small.)
The staff will show you to a table and hand you a glossy menu, which has photos of many of the dishes.
On my first visit, I tried the anchovy fried rice ($9), because I like anchovies. The dish had the saltiness you expect from anchovies, as well as having sator, an edamame-like bean. I took about one-third home for a second meal. I wish I had ordered a second dish for contrast because this one by itself kind of wore out its welcome.
On my second visit, I got mie ayam jamur, or chicken mushroom noodle ($7.50). This was a bowl of noodles with the aforementioned chicken and mushrooms, plus vegetables, and was delicious. A cup of soup — meatballs in broth — came as a side.
Java Bistro is a good spot for the slightly adventurous. I like it and hope they succeed.
Star Drug, one of the area’s few remaining independent pharmacies, is closing Thursday. It’s been in Claremont since 2012 and prior to that in Pomona since 1986. My Wednesday column is about Star Drug and pharmacist-owner Richard Sullivan, who’s been working locally since 1967. If you know the pharmacy or him, your comments are encouraged.
Wednesday’s column starts with the news that humorist David Sedaris will speak Nov. 19 in Claremont. (His book “Me Talk Pretty One Day” is referenced in the headline.) After that: four Ontario items and two cultural items. And a note that I’m on vacation this week. Columns and regular posting here will resume next week.
Sunday’s column assesses the election defeats in the above-named cities, then presents three cultural notes and three Chino items.
Remember the Gallery Theatre? You might if you lived here sometime between 1967 and 1989. First in Upland and then, for 19 years, in Ontario, the theater had popular, family-friendly productions like “South Pacific” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” Co-founder Mark Shipley recalls the times he had in an interview in my Friday column.
Butter Cafe and Bakery, 671 E. Bonita Ave. (at San Dimas Canyon), San Dimas; open daily, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Butter opened in July in the Bonita Canyon Gateway Center in San Dimas and quickly became a hit. I like to imagine that a few people have checked my Restaurant of the Week every week since and exclaimed in frustration regarding my choice, “I can’t believe it’s not Butter!”
Sorry, I had to say it. I’ve eaten at Butter five times so far and have enjoyed each visit to varying degrees, Butter being something the valley is perennially short on: smart, artisanal eateries.
The menu has baked goods, coffee, breakfast dishes, salads and sandwiches.
The display of baked goods — muffins, scones, croissants, cookies and more — is enticing.
On my first visit I had the prosciutto and gruyere croissant ($4), a good knife and fork item. I’ve also taken a cinnamon roll ($2.75) to go; it was icing-free and perhaps not yours, or my, idea of a cinnamon roll, but it was good anyway.
My first sit-down visit, I had a waffle ($6) with fruit ($2), in this case blueberries. Nice, but it took a frustrating 20 minutes to arrive.
Butter can get busy. At high noon on a Sunday, all the tables were filled and so were the two bars with bar stools and the comfy sofas. But I found a spot at the bar (I hesitate to say counter, as it’s just a shelf, not like a diner counter) and by 12:30 there were several open tables. Plan your visit accordingly. The interior is a little stark, but the wooden tables and benches add a natural touch.
That time I had the croque monsieur ($10) with a small salad. Very good. This was off the brunch menu, but it turns out you can order off the regular menu too.
I came in for an early dinner one night — remember, they close at 7 — and was the only customer, other than a couple of people who came in for to-go orders. Plenty of seating. I got the brisket sandwich ($11), one of Butter’s signature items, made with Harris Ranch beef. It didn’t wow me, although it was good enough; the beef’s denseness made it awkward to pick up and eat, and not easy to cut up with a knife and fork either. The fries were bland. I expected better.
On Tuesday I went in for lunch with a friend. I had the meatloaf sandwich ($10), very tasty. The tomato jam spread was a little sweet for my taste. The chips were housemade and no more interesting than the fries. Well, tater tots is the third option as a side. I’ll try them in the future. Why not a little salad or fruit?
Oh, and while my friend’s salad (below) arrived almost immediately, my sandwich took 15 awkward minutes and a worried inquiry from the staff about what I’d ordered. As that’s happened two times in five visits, maybe there’s an issue in the kitchen.
My friend had the Asian salad ($9), said it was good but wished the plum dressing were tangier. He could have added chicken for $3 and thought that would have been a good choice.
Butter seems to be establishing itself and I hope they continue to do well. I’m sorry the Fresh and Easy that anchors the center is closing, but Butter is building a clientele that should keep coming. I’m looking forward to more meals there myself.