It’s not that I don’t have notes for a Restaurant of the Week, or even two or three of them, but I’m leaving today for vacation and didn’t have time to compile one. I’m off next week too. This feature will return June 22. In the meantime, columns will appear Friday and Sunday before going dark for a week.
Sunday’s column starts off with the food truck schedule in Montclair and Pomona, continues with an update on my movie series in Ontario and Culture Corner items from various communities, and ends with a Valley Vignette.
Longtime readers of this blog will recall a string of comments a few years back by a fella who gave his name as Hal Linker and referred to his wife as Hadla. There was confusion on my part that he quickly cleared up by saying these weren’t their real names but were taken from a globe-trotting couple with a travel show on SoCal TV in the ’60s and ’70s.
Well, the son of the Linkers emails to tell me more about his parents and their travels:
My wife told me about your blog and postings by “Hal and Hadla Linker.”
Two readers sent slightly wacky notes in response to my column on John Clifford’s Garey Avenue restaurant crawl. Those kick off Friday’s column, which also has a bunch of Culture Corner items, a correction and a Valley Vignette.
What, what, what were my favorite restaurants of the 47 I wrote about in 2016 on this blog? I make my choices in Sunday’s column, followed by cultural and other items from around the valley, one of which involves Knott’s Berry Farm and another of which involves “Star Wars.”
A few years ago, I started jotting down Restaurant of the Week possibilities by city, crossing out spots where I went or that closed, adding new spots that I saw or that were suggested to me. It was only recently that I started over with a fresh sheet of paper. Above is the endlessly revised first list; click on it for a readable view if you like. Even without clicking, one thing is obvious: This list should have been tossed long before I finally did so.
MOVED; NOW BURGER BAR
The Meat Cellar, 665 E. Foothill Blvd. (at Claremont), Claremont; closed Mondays
Located at the eastern entrance to Claremont, in the plaza with Blue Fin Sushi, Meat Cellar is a butcher shop that also cooks food to eat in or to go and sells wine. As a frequent visitor to the Starbucks next door, I noticed Meat Cellar as it was going in earlier this year and have been in for dinner three times — which will tell you right there that I like the place.
There’s simple seating and you order at the register, past the butcher case. There are a half-dozen specials on the board plus a short printed menu, and they will also cook anything in the case that catches your eye. On one day, the specials were lamb chops, salmon tacos, BBQ pork sandwich, halibut, and
muscles mussels with fries, ranging from $12 to $21.
Twice I’ve had steak frites ($19, above), a hanger steak atop a bed of fries, the first time because it sounded good, the second time because I remembered how good the first one was (I was not disappointed). My other visit I got herb-crusted tenderloin with mixed greens ($17, below), another winner.
Generally I’ll eat a steak maybe twice a year. I’m not one for the formality, or pricing, of a steakhouse, or one who wants to get a mediocre steak at a cheesy family restaurant. Meat Cellar makes it simpler for me. Also, due to ordering at the counter, tipping doesn’t seem necessary, which makes the meal more affordable (by, well, 15 to 20 percent, right?).
They serve beer (from nearby Claremont Craft Ales) and wine. On my visits, the music has been cool, with lots of Bowie, Tears for Fears and the Smiths. The restaurant has no freezer, with all items delivered daily, and all the meat and poultry is organic, antibiotic-free and, as appropriate, grass-fed and pasture-raised.
I like it — but then, I said that up top.
Friday’s column profiles a centenarian who’s about to turn 101. Her pals say she’s a an excellent pinochle player and also an excellent friend.
In Pasadena recently, I noticed a parking sign in the Playhouse district, above, had an addition: “No Parking 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. City Wide.” That reminded me of Claremont’s long-established policy, below, which bans street parking during those same hours, which many residents hate. (Claremont only posts the signs at entrances to the city, another irritant.)
People always say Claremont is trying to copy Pasadena. Is this a case of the opposite occurring?
Update: Maybe not — reader Henry Fung says Pasadena has had a ban for years but only had signs at city limits, a la Claremont, until recently.
Souvlla Greek Grill, 1945 N. Campus Ave. (at 19th), Upland; open daily
In mid-February, finding myself near the Colonies Crossroads Center and very hungry, I went looking for food. I pulled into the western half of the center with the intention of going to zPizza, and that’s when I saw Souvlla. I’d heard about it back when it opened, in 2014, and then, as sometimes happens, forgot the whole thing. Rather than go to the familiar pizza place, this was definitely worth a try.
It was past 8:30 p.m., which is about the time the Inland Valley goes to sleep, but Souvlla would be open until 9, so I went in.
The menu has gyro sandwiches, salads, plates and a list of sides, rice bowls and burritos (!). It’s not traditional Greek, clearly. I got a gyros plate ($11) with lamb, rice and a salad. As a fan of Greek food, I thought this was decent, comparable to Cafe Moderno in Montclair or Saca’s in Claremont. That said, I was nonplussed to see the option of a pork gyro instead of lamb and am not sure what to make of it.
A few minutes before 9 p.m., the music was shut off, a sign that we shouldn’t get too comfortable. It was me at one table and three people, who’d arrived after me, at another. We left at the same time about 10 minutes later. But I understood: The Inland Valley needs its beauty sleep.
Update: Before this post could be published, the restaurant closed.