Restaurant of the Week: Genoveva’s

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Genoveva’s Mexican Food, 273 E. 9th St. (at Third), Upland

Replacing La Palmita, a long-lived but tired restaurant across from the Grove Theatre in downtown Upland, Genoveva’s opened in April. The owner, Hilario Rodriguez, has years of restaurant experience and is known downtown from his days managing Molly’s Souper.

A friend and I ate there after the Christmas parade. The restaurant was nearly full, including the large patio, on that sunny afternoon. The interior is much as I remembered it from the La Palmita days — tile floors, arches over the entrance to the tiled patio — but maybe cleaner and brighter.

I had a breakfast dish, chilaquiles ($9), which are scrambled eggs with lightly fried tortilla strips and green salsa (or red, your choice), rice and beans on the side. The sides were nothing special, but the entree was pretty good. It was also pretty big, and I took half home.

My friend got a bowl of albondigas soup ($7), which he said was excellent; he’s also had the menudo, of which he said: “It’s a clean menudo as opposed to a greasy menudo.” So noted.

I returned a few days later to try a lunch entree, ordering a carnitas burrito ($8). You could get a burrito of equal or better quality at dozens of other places around the valley, but it was tasty, and also large, and I took home one-third. My two meals turned into four.

Genoveva’s is said to use family recipes from the state of Puebla, although the menu is made up of fairly standard items other than a pollo en mole. Genoveva’s isn’t as good as Elvira’s nearby in Upland, but it’s not bad, and it’s a nice addition to downtown.

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Column: Chino’s top cop is a rarity: a woman

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Karen Comstock is the new police chief in Chino. She’s not only Chino’s first female police chief, but the first in any Inland Valley city. She’s the subject of my Friday column.

Above, she’s seen in the police station’s museum, filled with memorabilia of the 1926-established department’s history. Below, she admires a handmade banner created by her alma mater, Don Lugo High, which was on display outside her office.

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Tradition!

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The Laemmle theater chain’s seventh annual “Sing-Along ‘Fiddler on the Roof’” will screen at the Laemmle Claremont 5 at 7:30 p.m. Christmas Eve.

Lyrics will be provided to the film’s songs, which include “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “To Life” and “Sunrise Sunset”; trivia and prizes are promised and attending in costume is encouraged, if your wardrobe runs to early 20th century Russian village attire. Admission is $18, or $15 for seniors.

The movie lasts (ulp) three hours, by the way.

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Library garage

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On a hike earlier this year in the Hollywood hills, I was impressed by, and envied, one homeowner’s clever garage door mural depicting shelf after shelf of books. Note the (real) newspaper in the driveway!

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Restaurant of the Week: Gyu-Kaku

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Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ, 7893 Monet Ave. (at Versailles), Victoria Gardens, Rancho Cucamonga

Gyu-Kaku (pronounced “gyew-kah-koo”) is a mainstay of Victoria Gardens, located between JC Penney and Fleming’s Steakhouse on the south end of the outdoor mall. I’ve been there a couple of times over the years but never for my blog. It’s not conducive to solo dining, although that can probably be done. When a Japanese American friend suggested dinner, I thought of Gyu-Kaku.

Reservations are generally a good idea here. Another good idea is to go during happy hour, which ends most nights at 6:30 (hours here), because most of the food is $1 off. Tables have charcoal grills, much like Korean BBQ restaurants, but here they leave you alone to cook your own food. You order a few meat or vegetable items, or a multi-course fixed-price dinner, and as the items arrive, you get to work.

We had prime kalbi short rib, N.Y. steak, shrimp, pork belly, chicken thigh, scallops, asparagus and spinach ($3 to $10 each), enough for a filling meal. Each was delivered with a verbal instruction, such as “five minutes on each side.” My friend set the timer on his cell phone. Tongs are provided.

So it’s a little bit of work, and you wonder how much to tip. But it’s also participatory and fun. The food was tasty, with the scallops being our favorite. The only item we didn’t like was the pork belly, possibly due to bum instructions: Five minutes on each side rendered the pieces crispy beyond recognition. The result was like burned bacon. Everything else, though, was spot-on.

It was a good outing. “It’s very social,” my friend said approvingly. Also, the restaurant is open late: until 10 p.m. daily and 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Give it a try. It’s even open on Christmas.

Below: wrapped spinach on the grill with shrimp, short ribs and steak waiting; below that, scallops and pork belly.

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Stephen Neil Hyland Jr. in the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial

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I visited the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial in November, the subject of my Wednesday column. Lt. Col. Stephen Neil Hyland Jr., a Claremont native, is honored there. Here are photos of the scene. Above is the explanatory display outside the memorial.

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Victims’ names are in alphabetical order and their year of birth is noted.

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The memorial itself.

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Around the perimeter of the memorial, a wall rises from 3 inches to 71 inches, the age range of the victims. Panels show each birth year. 1955 was Hyland’s.

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I turned and saw this line of benches. Some years have one, some have many. Benches for Pentagon employees face the building; ones for passengers on American Airlines Flight 77 face away, along the path the plane took, according to Wikipedia.

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This is Hyland’s.

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Above is another view, Hyland’s bench in the foreground.

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On my way out, I noticed this panel. Someone had used ground cover to spell out “Love.”

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Bummer! Hip Kitty jazz club to close

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Hip Kitty, a Claremont lounge specializing in fondue and live music, will soon end its run. The business is in the process of being sold and is expected to close Jan. 31.

I was there with friends on Saturday celebrating a birthday. (Hi, Allison Evans!) Owner Nancy Tessier came over to say hello and I gave her the third degree. Ehh, it’s what I do. She confirmed that the club would soon close.

She opened the club in April 2007, shortly after her husband, Jerry, had finished renovation of the old citrus packing plant and opened it as the Packing House, which has businesses and lofts. She’d like to focus on her family, and maybe expand it, and decided she was better off selling the business, which is still successful, as the full house showed.

The new owners plan a speakeasy theme and may call the place Whisper. They will serve small plates and concentrate on cocktails. No fondue and, more crucially, no live music. Tessier was sorry about that and so are musicians: She’s always booked jazz and swing bands for the retro-themed club.

That night, the Lindy Sisters, a trio in the mold of the Andrews Sisters, performed, backed by the Hepcats. Watch a video here of them performing “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” Tessier said she’s booked other favorites for farewell appearances through January. The last night is undetermined but may fall in early February, depending on when the sale closes.

I’m sorry the lounge is closing, but at least it’s going out in style, and while it’s still popular. Check it out one — or more — last times before Hip Kitty slinks away into the moonlight.

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