Restaurant of the Week: Dr. Grubb’s

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Dr. Grubb’s, 353 W. Bonita Ave. (at Indian Hill), Claremont; closed Sundays

Dr. Grubb’s opened in the Village in the mid-’00s, taking a spot that had been occupied by a short-lived empanada restaurant that I really liked. Grubb’s, a healthy option where you pick a “protein,” a sauce and a side, didn’t wow me on my one and only visit, pre-blog, and in fact struck me as slightly weird and unsatisfying. Did I want a foam plate with chicken, couscous and a sauce, to be consumed with a plastic knife and fork, for a couple of dollars more than I wanted to pay? I didn’t.

But Dr. Grubb’s has hung in there and became a favorite with the college crowd, and it recently moved into larger quarters two doors west, the former Salad Farm space. Some friends and I gave it a chance for lunch on a warm afternoon recently.

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The interior is impressive, with a long, polished bar at which you can eat taking up most of the length of the storefront. There’s some regular seating too, and patio seating as well.

The menu is larger, but it’s still a protein, sauce and side operation. (They also have four beers on draft.) Proteins include salmon, shrimp, tofu, chicken and steak, with one-side combos ranging from $10 to $14. The idea of selecting a protein, which was an eye-roller for me originally, seems mainstream in the Chipotle era, by the way. We ordered and adjourned to the patio.

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Whereas Dr. Grubb’s had at first seemed somewhat provisional, now they give out plates and actual silverware. I liked my salmon with lemon thyme sauce and white rice ($12) and may have made the best choice of our group.

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One got shrimp with sun-dried tomato pesto and vegetables. The latter were bland, the former “fantastic.” “The sauce kind of makes it,” he said. “I wouldn’t have expected sauce to be a choice. Don’t neglect the sauce.” He smeared leftover sauce on his vegetables and they were improved by the addition.

Another got tofu with lemon thyme and vegetables. Finding them both “tasteless,” she also heaped praise on the sauce for rescuing her meal. “Thank goodness for the sauce,” she said.

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The last, but not least, of our group got chicken with mango sauce and penne pasta. It was good, he said, but he rued his choice of mango sauce: “The guy recommended the garlic aioli and I probably should have done that.” (By contrast, I asked what sauce I should get and followed the advice. I am not bigger than the counterman.)

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Everyone said they would consider going back, even the vegetarian, although I don’t know that anyone would order the vegetables again. I dodged a bullet on that one. At this point I go to Dr. Grubb’s once a decade, but I may pick up the pace. Final thought: Don’t neglect the sauce.

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ONT gets local website too

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Tuesday morning I was finishing a column related to Ontario International Airport and doing related Google searches. The official ONT page, I noticed, was still on LAWA.org, the parent LA site, with flyontario.com, the local page, said to be coming at noon (see above).

It took a little longer than that, but by mid-afternoon, the local site was live. And thus the transition of the airport to local ownership, effectuated Tuesday morning, was now official online.

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Reading Log: October 2016

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Books acquired: none

Books read:¬†“Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos Volume 2,” H.P. Lovecraft et al; “Another Side of Bob Dylan,” Victor and Jacob Maymudes; “Spend All Your Kisses, Mr. Smith,” Jack Smith.

Happy November, as we transition between scary holidays, Halloween and Election Day. For my monthly book report, I can report three books read: one horror (from 1973), one rock memoir (from 2014) and one newspaper columnist collection (from 1978).

The first is short stories based around Lovecraft’s mythos about elder gods who predate humanity and who may one day awaken from their slumber. Today we would call this a tribute book, because there’s one HPL story and then the rest are by later authors in his style.

The opening trio of linked stories — Robert Bloch’s tribute/send-up of HPL, followed by HPL’s he-has-a-sense-of-humor-after-all rejoinder, and then Bloch’s fond response after HPL’s death — is deservedly classic. It’s a mixed bag from there: I liked Bloch’s other contribution, Brian Lumley’s first (of two) and Colin Wilson’s, didn’t think much of J. Ramsey Campbell’s or James Wade’s. Unnecessary, but not bad for a tribute volume.

The memoir, by Dylan’s road manager of the early years, who rejoined him two decades later until a falling out, is occasionally insightful into Dylan’s life and character and the grind of touring. Based on taped memories, turned into a book after his death and padded out by his son with some extraneous comments, it’s inessential, but better than expected, or feared.

The book by the late L.A. Times columnist is a patch-up of various columns on a personal theme, as his two sons meet women (one from France, the other from Italy), marry and have children, and Smith adjusts. Essentially a book about middle age, it’s light on its feet, a gentle chronicle of life’s little moments, with deft and at times lovely writing, if not especially deep.

One favorite line: “I’ve heard it said that men first begin to realize their youth is over when policemen begin to look like college boys. That’s true. But there’s a much more alarming sign, and that’s when a man’s doctors begin to die.”

I’d give the edge to Smith this month, with the other two being for fans only. ¬†These three bring me to 33 books read this year. All three were acquired in the past decade, although I can’t remember where, other than the Dylan book being a birthday present (last year) and Lovecraft being purchased in 2011.

My last Reading Log promised “a little horror, a little history,” for anyone keeping track, because I had planned to read a California history book on Isaias Hellman and a second Mary Shelley study. The Hellman book was too daunting and after Dylan’s Nobel announcement I thought I’d move up my plan to read “Another Side.”

Doing so rekindled my interest in reading about him, as he’s my favorite musician and I have a dozen unread books about him. I’ll get back to Hellman and Shelley at a later date.

How was your month in reading? I hope it wasn’t frightful.

Next month: more Dylan.

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Arachnophobes, beware!

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There seems to be a spider problem at 1496 Bibiana Way in Upland, where some 200 of the insects, small and large, are crawling around and hanging from the exterior. It’s been a tradition for Don and Kathy Kane for about 15 years, starting with a single fake-spider purchase at Target at the urging of a 2-year-old grandson.

“It kind of expanded from that point,” Don told me in an understatement. Some have been purchases or gifts, and he’s made many of the spiders himself out of PVC pipe, using reflectors from Pep Boys for the eyes and in some cases styrofoam and even medicine balls for heads and bodies.

I learned about them from reader Susan Winderman, who was at a yard sale nearby and stopped to gape at the house, as others did.

I visited one afternoon and left my business card in the door after fighting my way through the spider-festooned porch to the door. Don called me back the next day, too late for a pre-Halloween column, but not too late for a blog post.

“Some people think they’re real,” he admitted, especially when the breeze makes them move.

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He’s seen neighbors out for a walk on his side of the street who will get to the corner, cross to the other side for a half-block, then come back to his side of the street.

“A couple of years ago, we had a fellow work on our refrigerator. He was standing in the front yard when my wife answered the door. He said, ‘There’d better be another way into your house or I’m not coming in.’ Apparently he had arachnophobia.” Kathy let him in through the garage.

Most other people seem to like the spiders. The Kanes have been asked as early as August when the spiders would come out. “People thank us. People appreciate the effort,” Don said.

The spiders went up at the end of September and will come down probably Nov. 5 or so — unless they decide to crawl down on their own. Check ’em out on 15th Street (corner of Bibiana Way) halfway between Benson and Central avenues.

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Restaurant of the Week: Shoboo Kitchen

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Shoboo Kitchen, 3626 Grand Ave. (at the 71), Chino Hills; open daily until 11 p.m. except for Sunday, 9 p.m.

Chino Hills without a doubt is the best city for Japanese food from there to Rancho Cucamonga. I’ve tried three or four Japanese restaurants in Chino Hills over the years and all were good to excellent. (Ojiya was the best.) I’m quick to say I’m no expert on the cuisine.

Recently I met a friend at one of the others, Shoboo Kitchen, which is located off the 71 Freeway in a center with a Sprouts market, See’s Candies and a Chick-fil-A. Shoboo is relatively small, seating maybe 30, and while people talk about a line at lunch, there wasn’t one on the Monday we visited.

The menu is extensive, and even the number is lunch specials is large. There’s a Lunch Special A list of a dozen items (each $9.45) and a Lunch Special B list of another dozen or more (each $11.45). I was examining those when my friend pointed out the bento boxes on another page.

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We each got bento boxes ($10), a segmented tray with rice and salad. He ordered hot items: pork ribs and chicken; I ordered cool items: sushi and sashimi. (Between us, did we have the McDLT of Japanese food?) Anyway, I would rate the lunch good, not great, but certainly worth the money. The atmosphere was on the low-key side, a plus from my perspective. Just a nice, homey place.

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Column: On the trail, they’re campaigning doggedly

I tried something new by going out walking with the two candidates for mayor of Pomona as they went door to door asking for votes. It turned out to be fun and surprising. (And I have to say, campaigning seems like a lot of work.) Check the results in Wednesday’s column. There’s a theme, and it’s man’s best friend — which isn’t necessarily a candidate’s best friend.

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