This week’s restaurant: Page One Cafe, 215 E. C St. (at Lemon), Ontario.
Page One is the cafe at rear of the Ontario City Library and was added in 2006, after the library renovation. There are two entrances from the outside and one from the library itself. It’s operated by SMG, which runs the Ontario Convention Center and has a large food and beverage department to support its events.
There was grand talk in the beginning of a seasonal menu, fresh soups and sandwiches, plus live music out on the enclosed patio. I dropped in a few times before council meetings for a quick bite and the cafe seemed underfunded. I had a chicken pesto pocket that was rubbery and inedible. From that point, I stuck to a fruit cup or yogurt — items impossible to mess up — before gradually forgetting the cafe was there.
Well, it turns out the cafe and its menu are now close to what was originally envisioned. The place was busy Monday at the noon hour and the menu is considerably larger and more ambitious than before. There are a few basic breakfasts, but sandwiches, salads and soups are the main items. They don’t have a grill, but they can do almost anything else.
There’s a Healthy Ontario menu to go along with the local health campaign and even sugar-free cookies, as well as sugary treats, from Sweet Nick’s bakery in Corona. Not to mention Starbucks coffee, the only Starbucks outlet downtown.
You order at the counter and they bring the food to your table, on real plates and with real silverware.
I had a Cuban panini with fries ($6.95) and an iced tea and it wasn’t bad. The crinkle-cut fries are made fresh to order and arrived hot and crispy. The sandwich came on a roll rather than pressed bread, which was unusual, but with ham, cheese and a pickle sliced lengthwise, it was tasty.
A couple of days later, I went back for another meal so I could take photos. (My camera batteries were dead the first time, darn the luck.) This time I got the daily special, a curry chicken wrap with a tomato salad ($6.50). Tucked inside the sundried-tomato wrap were curried chicken, romaine lettuce and, adding a nice crunch, sliced apples. I also got a sugar-free sugar cookie just for the novelty ($1). (Since most of the name cancels itself out, wouldn’t it be simpler to call it simply a “cookie”? But I digress.)
My only quibble would be that the oil and vinegar from the tomato salad spread over the entire plate, including the wrap. But it was close to a restaurant-quality meal. I wouldn’t drive here from Upland or anything, but if you’re near downtown, or visiting the library, Page One is a clean, comfortable spot for lunch or a snack.
The ambience is Starbucks-like, with a two-story ceiling, high tables, free Wi-Fi, a bookcase of cheap books for sale and an enclosed patio with more seating. And, of course, you’ve got a library just steps away. How many restaurants can make that claim?
Page One hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday.