Restaurant of the Week: Wicked Cow Burgers and Brews

Wicked Cow Burgers and Brews, 131 W. Foothill Blvd. (at Euclid), Upland; open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and to midnight Fridays and Saturdays

Wicked Cow, a gastropub, opened in December 2016 in a restaurant building on the edge of the Vons Center, taking over a space briefly occupied by Mes Amis, and for years previously by Pick Up Stix.

The interior is reminiscent of both prior occupants, with the same basic layout and open kitchen as Pick Up Stix and the nicer decor of Mes Amis. There’s a lot of red, gray and black, with wood accents and a tile floor, with a bar/counter.

The menu is short but interesting, mostly burgers and other sandwiches, a couple of salads, appetizers (including poutine), two dinner entrees, a steak and pasta, and 12 beers.

My first visit, I tried the signature burger, with onion rings as my side ($12). Arriving on a brioche bun, the burger was loosely packed and very good. This was promising enough that I returned on a drenching day in January for a second lunch.

This time I got the Oink-LT ($12), basically a BLT except with pork belly rather than bacon. That was a good switch, the soft, thick slices of pork belly having more taste and meat to them than the standard bacon. The side of fries was tasty.

Service was friendly and attentive both visits. In the spirit of full disclosure, the server, who is the general manager, comped my meal, she said because she remembered my early visit. I did not introduce myself. Anyway, I formed my judgment of the meal before realizing no bill would be forthcoming.

I would suggest only more attention to vegetarians, who must content themselves with either the Hipster burger or one salad, as virtually everything else, even the mac and cheese, has pork belly or another meat, and also the addition of a soup, which would have been a comforting choice on that cold, rainy day.

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A sippin’ David Allen

Checking Twitter this morning, I had a notification from a man in the Netherlands thanking me for participating in a whiskey tasting, where, as the photo above shows, I was “special guest.” (But of course.)

Evidently Frans Muthert looked for that David Allen on Twitter to get his handle to include in the tweet and didn’t notice he’d found a different, transcontinental fellow. As the guest’s apparent employer, Springbank Whisky (“The official Twitter account of Scotland’s oldest family owned distillery”) replied, “I don’t think ‘our’ David is on Twitter.”

He should sign up. Everyone’s talking about him!

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Restaurant of the Week: Imperial Sushi

Imperial Sushi, 108 W. Holt Blvd. (at Euclid), Ontario; open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, until 10 p.m. Friday to Sunday

Downtown Ontario now has a sushi restaurant — but not a Japanese restaurant. That’s because Imperial Sushi, reflecting the demographic, is Mexican-run and Mexican-focused. They have sushi, but also tacos.

I was skeptical, but when a friend proposed meeting there for lunch, I was willing. Imperial Sushi is a couple of storefronts west of the downtown epicenter of Holt and Euclid, in a former mariscos spot.

There’s no sushi bar, just a kitchen, plus booths in the fairly large dining room. To start, a server brought out a cup of tortilla chips and, for dipping, a cup of ceviche. Right off the bat, this was going to be a different experience.

The menu has sushi rolls (but no nigiri or sashimi), plus ceviche, fish tacos and cooked seafood dishes. Just to further mix up the cultures, one of the latter includes fettucine.

We got a spicy tuna roll ($10), a crunchy roll ($11) and a guamuchilito roll ($12), pictured in that order below.

Overall, this is the brownest sushi I’ve ever seen. These and all other rolls use cream cheese. The spicy tuna was close to a Japanese restaurant version, except for the spicy orange sauce squirted on it; the others appeared to have added crunch through deep-frying rather than using tempura.

There was no wasabi, although we were given a small carafe of what the server called salsa soya, or soy sauce.

At another table, a man was matter-of-factly shaking Tapatio sauce on his roll.

“For a Mexican place i’d say the sushi’s not bad,” my friend observed. “For a sushi place it’s … adequate.” We didn’t finish our rolls and I doubt I’ll be back.

Imperial Sushi would be easy to mock, but let me say something in its defense. Americans are notorious for adapting foreign cuisines to their taste. This includes Mexican food, Chinese food and Japanese food. In Japan, they do not eat California rolls, obviously, nor do they serve the kind of party rolls many Americans love.

So, Mexican-Americans have adapted Japanese food to their taste too. Good for them. Imperial Sushi isn’t to my liking, but it’s a fascinating cross-pollination of two cultures, and I wish them well.

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That’s a wrap (or a burrito plate) at Eating Garey

John Clifford finished his quest of dining at every restaurant (and restaurant-ish place) on Pomona’s Garey Avenue with this week’s post on his blog Eating Garey Avenue about Castaneda’s. He wasn’t especially impressed. Last week’s penultimate eatery was a Jack in the Box.

“It’s done, stick a fork in it. Yay, I’ve successfully eaten at all 56 currently open eateries on Garey Avenue…” he begins. He ends with a note that starts like this: “Thus ends the GREAT ADVENTURE. I hope that you’ve enjoyed following as I visited some good, some mediocre, some questionable, and some exciting spots along Pomona’s main north-south corridor.”

He may continue blogging, but about random restaurants around town about which he’s curious, or even about other matters. For now, he says, he’s going to take a well-deserved break from worrying each week about getting to the next restaurant up the street.

My column about our interview at Los Jarritos about his project can be read here. The photo above is from Los Jarritos as John prepares to take a photo of his food.

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White Avenue’s got the beat

To check out the sad state of the Pomona City Stable recently, the 1909 brick building that’s collapsing, I drove down White Avenue, parked along Second Street and strolled down the sidewalk on the east side of White under the railroad overpass for a better look at the structure on the opposite side of the street.

The east side is where I noticed this piece of concrete (below) that’s newer than the original 1960s sidewalk. It’s full of the kind of graffiti that gets drawn into wet cement, with “1982” written in one corner (partly visible in the photo).

The best readable graffiti (seen above): “The Go-Go’s forever.” Now that’s 1982!

Just under that: “I’m too hip.”

The 1909 Stable may or may not survive, but as far as history goes, at least there’s this fun 1982 sidewalk…

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Column: Signs of renewal at Ontario museum

There are new signs (see headline pun), new landscaping and more at the Ontario Museum of History and Art, which remains little-known in the community. Will the changes make the museum more visible? They should. My Sunday column can’t hurt either.

At top, a student passes by at the perfect moment to add human scale to this photo, for which he has my thanks. Dig the high-style modern sign. Below, a view of the museum from Euclid Avenue, what was once the entrance when the building was City Hall, and showing the area now called the courtyard. At bottom, museum director John Worden with the new sign at Euclid and Transit, the Frankish Fountain behind him. The diamonds on the sign mirror a design on the building exterior.

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