Chino, Rancho Cucamonga and Upland are all handling the move to district council elections a little differently. This will be a huge shift for all three cities, but the public isn’t really keying in on it. Sunday’s column provides an update, focusing on Chino, which is moving the fastest.
A former pilot, now 97, returned to Upland’s Cable Airport, where he used to teach students to fly in the ’50s and ’60s, and which he hadn’t seen in decades. He met with the Cable family, who were kind of in awe of him, and who took him up in a plane. The story is in my Friday column.
North Woods Inn, 540 N. Azusa Ave. (at San Bernardino), Covina
A visual fantasia, this hunting lodge-themed eatery and watering hole in Covina is replete with oil paintings, dark wood, period lamps and stained glass windows, not to mention faux logs and perpetual “snow” and “icicles” on the roof.
John Clearman opened the place in 1967 and it still appears to be going strong. He opened a few other theme restaurants in the area as well, with other North Woods Inns in La Mirada and San Gabriel and a Steak ‘n Stein in Pico Rivera still under the same ownership. He was also responsible for Rancho Cucamonga’s Magic Lamp. LA Weekly wrote a nice history of them all.
Friends and I used to eat at Covina’s North Woods Inn near Christmas every year, but we stopped, after one friend, incensed that his steak and shrimp dinner didn’t have the number or size of shrimp he was envisioning, put the kibosh on returning. I’d forgotten the whole thing until inviting them all there for my birthday. (He didn’t attend.) I had the idea after revisiting Covina Bowl and realizing it was a block west of North Woods. A two-in-one birthday opportunity had presented itself.
We were there for a mid-afternoon Sunday lunch. While you wait for a table, you can sit around the center fireplace or take in the surroundings, which include a stuffed bear under glass. Soon we were seated, at a table that appeared hewn from a log, with a gas lamp on it. The staff all wear red vests. It’s charming to a high degree.
The meat-focused menu is mostly steak and seafood dinners, with a few sandwiches thrown in too, and isn’t for vegetarians or light eaters. We had a 9-ounce lumberjack steak ($32), filet mignon ($37), chicken ($23) and the North Woods Special Platter ($31), which came with fish, steak and fried chicken. All dinners are accompanied by red cabbage and caesar salads (I had some of each, below) and cheese bread, plus rice pilaf and baked potato.
We all liked our food. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was good enough. Two small criticisms: Dinners come with potato AND rice? That’s a little starchy. And the mushroom gravy, which I opted for with my potato, was disappointing rather than a treat.
If you haven’t been to North Woods, you should probably go at least once. It’s one of the most unique restaurants in the region and well worth a drive from the Inland Valley.
After our three-hour lunch, my friends felt pressed to get back home, so I went bowling on my own. I bowled one game, for a score of 174, my third-highest ever! Thanks, Covina.
Wednesday’s column has some Montclair news, first about a retail center that’s partly opened, then about some other businesses and housing going up. Five Culture Corner items and four Chino items round out an item-packed column.
Tweeting live from Coachella, my colleague Liset Marquez reports that in Sunday’s appearance, Cold War Kids singer Nathan Willett introduced “Drive Desperate” this way: “I just wanna say, we namecheck Pomona in this song.” The crowd, alas, did not go wild. (If they had, I would have a book to recommend.)
The lyrics, from their 2014 album “Hold My Home,” begin like this: “The road/a yellow line unfolds/Jagged then corrodes/Pomona first of all/Machines they rush in a trance…”
I can’t really tell you what it’s about, certainly driving, maybe street racing? The band formed in Fullerton, by the way, and is based in Long Beach. Anyway, no video from Coachella is available, but above is the band performing the song at another festival, Lollapalooza, in 2015.
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.
Sunday’s column wraps up (one hopes) the story of New China, the Upland restaurant that was subject of a blog post here in mid-March. I came up with some history of the restaurant and its predecessor, the Sage Hen. Also: two Culture Corner items and one on my film series at the Ontario library.
Above and below, photos by Matthew Landes from the Growing Up in Upland Facebook page of New China’s interior, shot a year ago.
Food Truck Tuesdays in the parking lot of Montclair Plaza is proving a strong lure. I write about the event in Friday’s column, while also offering up three Culture Corner items, a plug for this blog and word of Record Store Day, which makes its annual appearance Saturday. Above, a photo from Tuesday’s event.
Szechuwan Garden, 8851 Central Ave. (at Arrow), Montclair; open daily
This ’80s strip mall has had a Chinese restaurant of one name or another for 30 years: first Royal China, then Golden Buddha and then, since 1998, Golden China. When it closed in 2014, after a long run, its replacement was yet another Chinese restaurant, Szechuwan Garden.
Thankfully, they made the place over, ditching some of the dated touches that left you wondering if A Flock of Seagulls might drop in for a pu-pu platter. The dining room is more industrial now, the lighting is focused and the atmosphere less tacky.
The menu is slightly more interesting than your typical Chinese American restaurant — shredded pork with dry bean curd, chow fun — but largely has familiar dishes, even moo goo gai pan, and cream cheese wontons, but no orange chicken at least.
I had lunch there last month with a friend. He got tangerine chicken off the lunch menu ($7), while I got one of the chef’s specialties, Mao braised pork belly ($13). His came with soup, salad and egg roll. They gave me a soup to be nice.
He liked his lunch, and mine was pretty good too, soft chunks of pork belly atop sauteed spinach, with brown rice on the side. Inland Empire had named it to its 10 Dishes to Die For list, a display at the entrance had boasted.
This isn’t San Gabriel-style authentic Chinese food, and thus I wouldn’t recommend driving across the valley to eat here. That said, it’s clean and comfortable, a small step up from Golden China, and in a time when decent sitdown places for traditional Chinese food are becoming scarce, I wish them luck.
You may not know who LCD Soundsystem is, but the important thing is, a lot of music fans do, and they were buzzing about a show by the band in Pomona on Monday, a semi-secret show that drew 1,700 to the Fox on only three days’ notice. Was this the most talked-about cultural event of 2016 for the Inland Valley? Time will tell, but maybe. My Wednesday column tells the story.
Above, two photos before the concert; below, two photos after. So many people!
Videos of many of the songs from the concert have been uploaded from fans’ phones. Here’s one: “Home.” Oh, and “This is Happening,” referenced in the headline, is the title of their third album.