Restaurant of the Week: Paul Martin’s American Grill

pm1

Paul Martin’s American Grill, 12574 N. Mainstreet (in Victoria Gardens), Rancho Cucamonga; open daily

Co-owned by the same guy behind P.F. Chang’s and Fleming’s, both also at Victoria Gardens, Paul Martin’s opened in June in the former Paisano’s/Sisley space by the AMC theaters. After two failed Italian restaurants, that spot has gone upscale American.

I tried it out for lunch recently with a friend who was a repeat customer at the Irvine location. The interior is swank, with low lighting, lots of wood, a full bar (photo at bottom) and a large wine rack. What they serve here is American classics, but done up in a modern ways, made from scratch, with seasonal and artisanal ingredients.

I had the three-mushroom burger ($14, below). The server said it was the best vegetarian burger she’d ever had, and I agreed. Delicious and juicy, the opposite of a lot of veggie burgers. (Candidly, when I ordered it I didn’t realize I was ordering a vegetarian burger, but when I asked about the mushrooms, and the server made the above comment, I didn’t change my order.)

My friend had the BLT ($16, second below), hardwood smoked bacon with romaine and tomatoes on a roll, and it was an excellent version, if you can swallow paying $16 for a humble BLT. “It’s so smoky and wonderful,” she said. “The bacon is amazing.”

I got a slice of banana cream pie for dessert, if only to see what a $10 slice of pie looks and tastes like. It was sweet and rich, and too much for one person; I’d have been better off taking half of it home.

Cocktails are $11 and are said to be great. There’s an extensive wine selection and some micro-ales. Of the other entrees my friend has tried, the brick chicken is especially recommended. The menu has salads, soups, burgers and sandwiches, seafood, chicken and steak; it’s tightly focused, with just a few examples of each. Dinner entrees range from $9 to $40. The lunch menu has three $12 items. And there are intriguing specials, like a three-course fried chicken dinner on Tuesdays for $22.

I would certainly return. Paul Martin’s is a good addition to Victoria Gardens and one of the finest restaurants in the city. Also, check out the restrooms. They’re austere, stylish and dimly lighted, like an art installation. How often can you say that?

pm3

pm2

pm5

pm4

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

‘Pomona A to Z’ party

booksign1

Look at all the people! I’m standing up in the background by the banner, talking to my friends Elizabeth Casian and Doug Evans and feeling somewhat overwhelmed.

Pomona’s literati and glitterati turned out July 18 for the launch party for my book “Pomona A to Z.” Delayed at work, I walked in the door of the Downtown Pomona Owners Association office moments before the official 5:30 p.m. start and people were already waiting for me. I didn’t have plans for a reading or questions — I didn’t have any plans, really — but there was no need to fill time: I sat down, a line formed and I didn’t budge for the next two hours.

Having been to my share of book signings as a fan, I knew the drill, even if I hadn’t expected to ever be doing it myself: Shake hands, chat people up, ask how to spell their name and think up something to write in their books — in ink, which is unforgiving.

One woman told me she thought there’d be a line around the block, which is a bit unrealistic for a book signing by someone who’s not, say, Hillary Clinton. But the line was to the door, usually had eight or 10 folks in it, and some said they waited half an hour. Everybody was cheerful about it. It was all very flattering, believe me. It beat my usual Friday night routine, which is to unwind in a Starbucks by myself and read.

A few close friends came, and one co-worker, and various Pomona people, some whom I know well, some whom I know only slightly. Among the latter was a music fan named Alonso, who had approached me at the Pomona Christmas Parade to tell me how much he liked my column on the late musician Lou Reed. Willie Campos, who was featured in one chapter as a devotee of discount stores, tried to swap me a painting for a book, but we took his $20 instead.

I met brand-new people too. One treat was finally meeting Michelle Dubas, whom I’ve known via email and social media for eight or nine years; I remember her because, like me, she’s a fan of the 1970s TV series “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” And I met Jill Carol, who like me has two first names; a photographer (her Pomona blog is That’s So Second Street), she had contributed a photo of my parade appearance to this blog.

One couple, John and Patti, told me they’d read all the “A to Z” columns when they were first published and had been waiting 10 years for a book version. They like my book because, unlike other Pomona books, it’s “intimate,” John said. I liked that.

Besides books, I signed a cast for Jerry Tessier, and I met the Goddess of Pomona, who’s shorter than you’d expect. She also sounds suspiciously like Upland artist Dee Marcellus Cole. I signed books for three members of the Pomona City Council (all women) and for one former member (also a woman). I also shook hands with an Upland City Council member, Gino Filippi, who waited in line with a friend but didn’t buy a book. Men!

We sold 61 books, not a bad evening’s work. I would have liked to float omnisciently above the room; I saw things from the limited vantage point of being seated in one corner. The photo of the whole room was startling to see. A lot of people came to see me!

Thanks to Sally Egan for the photos. She also photographed me for the book cover.

booksign3

I stall for time while thinking up something lame to write in a book for my friend Alan Saunders. By the way, I’m wearing the same shirt as on the book cover so people would recognize me. Also, it was next in the rotation.

booksign2

I’ll sign anything except a blank check. This is Jerry Tessier, who renovated the Fox Theater, the Claremont Packing House and the Padua Theater. In the achievement for which he will be best remembered, however, he bought five copies of my book.

booksign4

“Pomona A to Z” and I get the blessing, I think, of the Goddess of Pomona.

booksign5Danielle Soto, left, a former councilwoman, and Paula Lantz, a current councilwoman, display their books proudly. As they should.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

No. 10 with a bullet

AtoZ2

“Pomona A to Z” is on an end-cap display at Rhino Records (235 Yale Ave., Claremont) right when you walk in, my book placed between Led Zeppelin vinyl reissues and Morrissey’s new album. This is such a thrill, I’ve gone in twice just to admire my end-cap. As of Sunday, Rhino had sold four copies of my book, enough to put me at No. 10 in sales for the week. Morrissey was No. 1.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Column: Under the radar, Walmart market ventures into Pomona

In a surprise, a Walmart Neighborhood Market is headed for Pomona without any public meetings. Officials decided that since the grocery was replacing a 99 Cents Only store, permits could be granted with only staff review. (They took a more democratic approach in La Verne, sending the matter to the Planning Commission anyway.)

That news leads off Sunday’s column, which also has news from Chino and Ontario, and two Culture Corner items.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Column: Ontario councilman sends shirtless photo to colleague

It was another unusual Ontario City Council meeting, and your humble servant was there to take notes (and file public records requests later). Read all about it in Friday’s column.

* Newest feather in his cap: Councilman Avila now has his own “topics” page on the Daily Bulletin’s website. All our Avila news (mostly my columns) gathered in one handy spot!

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Restaurant of the Week: Cannataro’s

cannataros1

Cannataro’s, 12345 Mountain Ave. (at 60), Chino

Cannataro’s is a family owned Italian restaurant and one of the better-known eateries in Chino. That’s why, when friends and I were brainstorming a Chino place to meet at, Cannataro’s came up immediately as one we were curious about.

Located in a small shopping center on Mountain Avenue just below the 60 Freeway, Cannataro’s isn’t exactly in a Tuscan glade, but on the other hand it’s easy enough to find. The interior is casual and unpretentious. Apparently it was updated not long ago. The menu has pasta, seafood, chicken, veal and steak, sandwiches, calzones and pizzas. Entrees range from $7 to $17 and pizzas from $7 to $22.

We got our own entrees: pasta primavera ($12), pasta Cannataro’s ($12), a small Hawaiian pizza ($12, below) and an antipasto salad ($9, bottom). Two got Italian sodas ($3), vanilla and coconut, which they liked.

Reactions from those who ordered the dishes: The pasta primavera “needed salt.” (Luckily, this unusual seasoning could be found inches away.) The ham and pineapple pizza, whose right to exist was vigorously debated at our table, was nevertheless said to be “delicious.” The salad was “fantastic.” My pasta Cannataro’s (chicken breast in olive oil with basil and sundried tomatoes in penna pasta) was okay, but bland. I wouldn’t order it again.

Overall, we were satisfied, but unexcited. It’s worth mentioning too that the service was a little friendlier and more personal than the norm. Reviews on Yelp are all over the place: Cannataro’s gets 4 stars out of 5, but a lot of people are at one end or the other.

cannataros2

cannataros3

cannataros4

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Red Car schedule, 1914

redcar

At the end of Wednesday’s column on Metrolink cutting the 11 p.m. weekday train from L.A. to San Bernardino, I mention the Red Car trolley schedule from 1914. Below is the full schedule as taken from the July 12, 1914 San Bernardino Daily Sun. (It’s unclear if the weekend schedule was the same or different.) Read more about the Red Cars on Wikipedia’s entry here; the photo above is from Wikipedia too.

SAN BERNARDINO TO LOS ANGELES (times leaving SB/arriving in LA)

6:38 a.m./8:55 a.m.

8:08 a.m./10:30 a.m.

10:05 a.m./12:31 p.m.

1:05 p.m./3:21 p.m.

4:05 p.m./6:30 p.m.

5:08 p.m./7:25 p.m.

7:30 p.m./9:19 p.m.

10:28 p.m./12:53 a.m.

LOS ANGELES TO SAN BERNARDINO (times leaving LA/arriving in SB)

3 a.m./5:22 a.m.

7:20 a.m./9:10 a.m.

9 a.m./11:20 a.m.

11:30 a.m./2:05 p.m.

2:15 p.m./4:35 p.m.

4:23 p.m./6:40 p.m.

7:10 p.m./9:29 p.m.

11:15 p.m./1:41 a.m.

As a point of comparison, here’s the Metrolink schedule for the San Bernardino Line: more trains than 1914, and faster travel times (faster trains and/or fewer stops), but clumped together at rush hours rather than spaced out over 24 hours.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email