Restaurant of the Week: Butter Cafe and Bakery


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.

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Restaurant of the Week: Angela’s Italian Kitchen


Angela’s Italian Kitchen, 130 E. Bonita Ave. (at San Dimas Ave.), San Dimas

Looking for somewhere to eat in San Dimas, I found Angela’s on Yelp and invited a friend to meet me for lunch. It’s on the main drag, only a block east of another Italian spot, Pozzetto, where he and I ate last year. Angela’s is in the Albertsons center, toward the west end.

It’s so small, your first sight as you walk in is the door to the women’s room. But after that, they’ve managed to make the dining room feel cozy, not small. The dark wainscoting and tan paint help, as do the plethora of decorations, which include many Sinatra posters.

Rather than salad, we each ordered Italian wedding soup as our side (pictured below); full of pasta, spinach and meatballs, it was very good. We each got pastas: pasta carbonara (“good consistency and flavor,” my friend opined; pictured second) and baked mostaccioli (maybe too much cheese, but good; pictured third); each was $16. I took home half of mine and got a second meal out of it.

Did we like Angela’s or Pozzetto better? Based on one meal at each, it’s Pozzetto by a nose, and note too that Pozzetto is larger and has a wine bar. But there’s nothing wrong with Angela’s.





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Restaurant of the Week: Pozzetto Italian Dining


Pozzetto Italian Dining, 114 W. Bonita Ave. (at San Dimas Ave.), San Dimas

A friend recommended Pozzetto, an Italian restaurant in downtown San Dimas. I know and like the main drag of San Dimas, but I didn’t know Pozzetto. So recently I met a different friend there for lunch.

Pozzetto is small but cute, with a couple of outdoor tables along the wooden-sidewalk promenade and a few more inside. There’s also a wine bar and a mural of Venice sprawling across much of a wall. Pozzetto has all sorts of Italian items — salads, sandwiches, a dozen pastas — with only five pizzas.

I got one of the pizzas, whose name I forgot and which I can’t find online. All are Neapolitan style, a more traditionally Italian pizza; mine had tomatoes, olive oil, mozzarella and garlic ($10). It was a good lunch-sized pizza and I ate it all.

My friend had a roast beef sandwich ($7.50), served warm on a roll. He liked it and shared a portion with me. I’m not a big roast beef fan but I would consider ordering this sandwich myself.

Service was brisk; the lone server was handling about five tables by himself, but he did the best he could.

All in all, Pozzetto was a pretty decent mid-priced Italian spot. Thanks to my first friend for the recommendation and my second friend for joining me.




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Restaurant of the Week: Twisted Sage Cafe



Twisted Sage Cafe, 433 E. Foothill Blvd. (at Dixie), San Dimas; open daily 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.

You may have to twist your car a couple of times to find Twisted Sage, which is in a white Spanish-tile office complex a few blocks west of San Dimas Canyon Road. But my friends and I did a U-turn one recent Sunday and circled back.

Twisted Sage is a popular spot, and for good reason, one of those rare places out here that does what so many hip spots in LA do: local produce, sustainable, green practices, reclaimed wood, made from scratch, etc., etc. People were lined up out the door to order at the counter; there proved to be exactly the right number of tables.

We had a French toast plate ($8, below), which uses French bread and comes with homemade jam; bacon waffle ($5.75), slices of bacon surrounded by waffle; and veggie wrap ($8), wrapped in a spinach tortilla, with a side of mac and cheese ($1.50). We weren’t wowed, but we liked our meals. The ambience is lively: forest green walls, stainless steel tables and chairs, salvaged decor, interesting accent pieces.

I returned for lunch a couple of weeks later. The menu has salads, sandwiches, panini and wraps, as well as a few specials, recently including a couple of burgers. I got the seared ahi tuna salad ($15, middle). Besides four thick slices of tuna, the salad has mixed greens, slaw, cucumber, radish, avocado and a cucumber wasabi dressing. I would have preferred a vinaigrette to a cream dressing, but the salad was good.

After hearing good things about the biscuits and gravy, I came back for breakfast and got that as a plate ($11, bottom). I don’t typically like biscuits and gravy, as the sauce is like a white mass of goop to me, but the Twisted Sage version was delicious: a cornbread-like biscuit topped with housemade-sausage gravy. They’re not on the regular menu, but they’ve been offered as a special in recent weeks. They came with eggs, crisped potatoes and bacon. Delicious.

I felt like I’d finally ordered the right thing. I ate on the rear patio, which I didn’t know existed on previous visits, picnic and bistro tables arrayed in a relatively secluded spot.

Ultimately, then, a thumb’s-up for Twisted Sage. The concept may outpace the results at times, but I like the concept, and you might too.





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Restaurant of the Week: Clayton Brewing Co.


Clayton Brewing Co., 661 W. Arrow Highway (at Bonita), San Dimas

Clayton was the site of a recent birthday dinner among a group of my friends, which offered the chance to get the opinion of multiple people. It’s a gastropub near the 57 Freeway in a center that also has a Boot Barn and Red Robin.

While they serve beer and wine, and there’s a bar, Clayton is open only until 10 p.m. daily (8 p.m. on Sunday), so it feels more like a restaurant than a bar. Indeed, the brightly lighted interior was sedate on a Friday night last month, most tables filled, sports unfolding silently on the TVs, people enjoying themselves, but not too much, if you know what I mean.

The menu has sandwiches, burgers, salads, flatbread pizzas and pasta. (It also has an unfortunate typo: “South of the Boarder.”)

Among the items we tried: white truffle garlic parmesan cheese fries ($8), addictive; wings ($9.25), scarfed up by a wings connoisseur; seared ahi salad ($13, below), which the foodie whose birthday it was really liked; Santa Fe rolls ($9, bottom), deemed good, but bready; lobster burger ($13), grilled lobster with slaw and bacon, which got a mixed review, great for the sandwich, but poor for the soggy bun; and a half-sandwich (chicken caprese, dull) and soup (lobster bisque, rich; combo $10).

They brew their own beer, with the Mt. Baldy Blonde and Hop Stompin’ IPA said to be pleasant surprises, very tasty; they also offer microbrews.

Service was friendly and patient with our large group and our separate checks. It’s not Back Abbey, but Clayton, discovered through a Yelp search, was a good find.



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Restaurant of the Week: Phillys Best

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Phillys Best, 4320 E. Mills Circle Road (at Milliken), Ontario; also 4047 Grand Ave. (at Pipeline), Chino; and 806 E. Arrow Hwy. (at 57), San Dimas

Phillys Best (note shameful lack of apostrophe) is a chain of cheesesteak shops with 20 locations in SoCal, including three in the Inland Valley (see above). Because the number is so limited, Phillys Best qualifies under my ground rules here of focusing on mom and pop or relatively scarce chain restaurants.

I’ve been to the Phillys Best on the periphery of Ontario Mills a few times over the years. They have a range of steak sandwiches, hoagies, burgers and chicken sandwiches.

I visited this week for a mushroom steak with cheese ($7.50). It’s a hearty sandwich and like the others is served on a soft Amoroso brand roll from Philadelphia. I see in the fine print that the cheese is American and that you can substitute provolone or Wiz, as in Cheez Wiz, which cheesesteak-wise is technically more authentic, albeit disgusting.

They have above-average fries ($2) and, for people with East Coast tastes, Wise brand chips, Tastykakes and Frank’s Soda. The decor is sparse but includes boards listing Philly natives and Philly trivia and a blowup aerial photo of the city.

I haven’t been to Philadelphia and can’t judge how the cheesesteaks here compare, but they taste pretty good to me, and the result seems a lot more Philly than, say, Sbarro is to N.Y. If you’ve been, what do you think?

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Restaurant of the Week: Pinnacle Peak

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Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse, 269 W. Foothill Blvd. (at Cataract), San Dimas; also in Colton, Santee and, believe it or not, Shanghai

I’ve passed Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse and its covered wagon sign many a time on Route 66 but had never ventured in until a recent visit with three friends. The restaurant, the first in a mini-chain, opened in 1967. It’s in a ranch-style building with a cow statue on the roof. They’re famous for their Western atmosphere, affordable steaks and no-tie policy, the result of which is hundreds of sliced neckties hanging from the rafters.

The interior has dark wood paneling, a cowboys and Indians motif, hanging lanterns as lights and red checkered tablecloths. Some of the seating is picnic style. We got a table.

I got the 8-oz. sirloin with baked potato ($19) and my friends got a full rack of pork ribs ($18.50), barbecued chicken ($11) and half-pound Wrangler burger ($8). The entrees came with a serviceable salad. My steak was delicious — steaks here are grilled over mesquite charcoal — and perfectly sized for a good but not heavy dinner.

The chicken was tender and moist and the barbecue sauce tasty. The burger was enjoyed. The ribs weren’t bad but were coated in a thick, goopy sauce. “It’s ribs at a steak place,” someone said with a shrug. We finished off the meal by sharing an apple cobbler a la mode ($5), which was very good. Check out the menu here.

Overall, we liked the experience, atmosphere and food, so-so ribs aside, and the price was right. Service was attentive and friendly. Tables get complimentary bread and a bowl of beans.

Why there’s a Pinnacle Peak in Shanghai, I don’t know, but if I’m ever in China, I’ll have to visit it. Not only do they clip ties there, but they have “swinging saloon doors” and their own mechanical bull.

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Restaurant of the Week: Roady’s

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Roady’s, 160 W. Bonita Ave. (at Monte Vista), San Dimas

Roady’s is an old-fashioned diner in downtown San Dimas. It was introduced to me years ago by reader Gene Harvey and I’ve gone back a half-dozen times since then. I even had a birthday lunch there with friends a couple of years ago.

This time I invited blogger Mike Tanner of the Dinerwood site to meet me there. I’d never met him, but I like his stuff and he’s proved he’s willing to drive out here, producing reviews of Flo’s, Brandon’s, Red Hill Coffee Shop, Stevie Dee’s, Joanne’s Cafe, Corky’s, Mission Family Restaurant and maybe even a few other local staples among his usual L.A. fare. He was game and we met at Roady’s last weekend.

I asked Mike his definition of a diner. “First off, It has to have a counter,” he told me. It ought to have breakfast all day, or at least through lunchtime. It ought to have pie. Whether newfangled or original, the diner ought to have a certain diner vibe. And there can’t be any seafood, Tanner said, unless it’s fried, or unless it’s on the menu but no one orders it.

Roady’s meets all his definitions. There’s a counter when you walk in, and a pie case. Breakfast is served all day. With the comfortable booths, giant windows, wood paneling, experienced waitresses and American Indian art, the vibe is near-perfect. As for fish, I wasn’t paying close attention, but I’m pretty sure no fish escapes the kitchen unbattered.

I ordered a patty melt ($6.85) with cole slaw as my side. The vinegary slaw was above average, the sandwich superior as well: burger, rye, grilled onions, cheese, pickles on the side. Mike had the chuck wagon breakfast ($6.45), two biscuits atop two scrambled eggs, gravy on top and, riding shotgun, two pieces of bacon and two sausage links. He liked it.

For the day’s pie selection, Roady’s had apple, cherry and lemon meringue pie. Mike had a slice of apple and I had lemon meringue ($3.45 each). Darn good pie.

It was a hearty lunch, a chance to exchange views with another blogger, make a new friend and, for a few moments, share the self-consciousness that comes with snapping photos of your food.

If you dote on diners, Roady’s is a must. And so is Dinerwood. Here’s Mike’s piece on Roady’s; we timed our reviews to coincide. Synergy and pie? Wow.

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