Restaurant of the Week: Pomona Valley Mining Company

Pomona Valley Mining Co., 1777 Gillette Road (at Dudley), Pomona; 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday

Perched atop a hillside above the 10 Freeway, Pomona Valley Mining Co. is a destination restaurant with a theme. At the bottom of the hill, a sign on a weathered-looking shack points you in the right direction.

That requires a heart-stopping drive up the hill, one that it might be possible to get used to, but which freaks me out the handful of times I’ve done it. (Too bad I don’t still have that F-150.) Once up there, though, you’re rewarded with views of Pomona, the freeway and Elephant Hill. A seat near the bank of windows is a must.

The exterior is meant to resemble a Gold Rush-era wooden building, and wagons, lanterns and other such items decorate the drive up, the parking lot and the interior. The dining room is down a flight of stairs.

I was there for dinner recently with bloggers Dining in Pomona (and wife Mrs. C) and New Diner 2. It was a blogging summit meeting. As with most summit meetings, progress was incremental and deals were elusive. The only photo ops were of food.

I had had dinner at the Mining Co. precisely once and remember only that my cheapskate friends were irate that they were charged for soda refills, which I believe were taken off the bill. At noontime it’s a rental facility and I’ve been to a couple of service club lunches there.

The menu is largely steaks, prime rib and seafood. Two of our party got the shrimp and scallops ($26), one got the ribeye ($32) and I got the Miner’s Filly filet mignon ($34). Salad and soup bar is free with a meal or $18 on its own; you get a chilled plate that resembles a mining pan, except you’re panning for veggies, not gold. I had a little of the albondigas soup, which had (ugh) peas.

Cheese bread was delivered gratis (and au gratin). What’s not to like?

The seafood crowd was perplexed that their shrimp and scallops came in a cream sauce rather than a garlic sauce. (The menu says they’re “sauteed with garlic butter,” after all.)

The ribeye eater was put out by its preparation; it should be cooked “hot and fast,” leaving a char on the outside, she said. Also, her lemonade ($3.50) was never refilled. But then, maybe they don’t do free refills? Still, they should ask if she wanted another. She said that’s typically the way women are treated when outnumbered by men at a table, but noted ominously, “I have just as much influence on the tip.”

I may have been the only satisfied customer, enjoying my splurge steak with herb butter and mushrooms. Overall, though, the salad and soup were unexciting, the service average to indifferent and the mining theme a little dated. Here are the takes of Dining in Pomona and New Diner 2.

So, as a holdover from the era of theme restaurants — it appears to have opened circa 1977 — Pomona Valley Mining Co. is an interesting curio. The food’s okay. But if you go, it will probably be more for the views.

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WCTU fountain, Chino

In downtown Chino, walking from El Pueblo to Aguiar Square, I noticed this WCTU fountain for the first time. It’s at Sixth and D streets, southeast corner. According to the plaque, it’s a replica of a 1908 fountain erected by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, an organization of anti-alcohol crusaders that built fountains so that men could get a drink of water without entering a saloon.

Now get a load of this, as it’s a rare thing to read an official plaque and laugh out loud: “Records show that not long after the dedication, a runaway ‘horseless’ buggy plowed into the fountain and destroyed it.”

BOOM.

Click on the photo below for a larger view of the plaque, although the lettering is such that it’s tough to read at any size.

This replica was dedicated in October 2010 for Chino’s centennial, recognizing “an important issue that led to Chino’s incorporation.”

The fountain isn’t meant to be operational, but as you can see, a working water fountain is next to it. I got a refreshing drink of water and thought about Chino.

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The Anchor Lounge?

An email query arrived from Carolyn Inhoffer Montes, who asks:

I hope you can help answer a question for me. My dad, a Marine, was chatting with a fellow Marine, who asked him if he knew about the ‘Anchor Lounge’ in Rancho Cucamonga, owned by a Navy guy (thus the name) that was ‘in the middle of a vineyard. My dad and I are assuming it was a ‘seedy’ place…

Nonetheless, he keeps asking if I have learned where it was located. I’ve googled to see if anything would pop up, but nothing does. I saw your blog and thought you might be able to help me, given your historic knowledge of Rancho.

Any thoughts? Or insight?

I’ve never heard of this, but that doesn’t mean much. Have you any of you?

Update: via the Alta Cucawanda Friends Facebook page, Chris H. Boesen says the Anchor Lounge was on Foothill Boulevard, just west of Hermosa Avenue, on the north side, in what is now a patio furniture store. “I know it was there in the mid-’70s. Don’t remember when it closed,” Boesen writes. “It was a dive bar for sure.” And Jane Vath O’Connell says: “I remember it as a place called Capt. Shinks!”

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Column: So it goes: a Vonnegut tour of Dresden

In Sunday’s column, I wrap up my series about my trip to Germany by writing about Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” and my visit to the Dresden slaughterhouse where he was held as a POW.

Above, Donilo Hommel, center, shows us the renovated slaughterhouse at left where Vonnegut appears to have been held, across from the power building at right; below, I stand outside the entrance to Schlachthof 5/Slaughterhouse Five, marked by a sign put up by fans.

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Column: With Angels Flight, the devil is in the details

I take a ride, two in fact, on the newly restored Angels Flight railway in downtown L.A. Of all the weird luck, the next day it closed again due to a faulty part. I’ve been on it on at least a half-dozen occasions over the years, in between closures, some of which have lasted years. It’s nice to have it back.

I write about it in Friday’s column. Have you ever been on it?

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Restaurant of the Week: Beola’s Southern Cuisine

Beola’s Southern Cuisine, 1845 E. Holt Blvd. (at Vineyard), Ontario; open weekdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

In mid-2016 Beola’s took over this modern but somewhat obscure space near a Starbucks and previously occupied by Italian and Indian restaurants, if memory serves. The restaurant is said to have a connection to Maple House, which is a few miles west and focuses on chicken and waffles, but this one has a broader menu.

I’d been meaning to try out Beola’s for a while, but, well, you know how it goes. A friend and I were looking for a lunch spot and Beola’s came to my mind. The interior was pleasant in a kind of business-lunch way and has a bar.

We were seated and examined the menu, the same at lunch as at dinner. Entrees range from $10 to $25 and were a mix: a sandwich, fried seafood, gumbo and oxtails, plus $5 sides like greens, yams. At $19 to $24, the gumbo was a little more than we wanted to pay. So he got the shrimp and grits ($14) and I had smothered chicken over rice ($12).

Our socks weren’t knocked off, but the food was fine. From my standpoint, there was something slightly disappointing about the experience. I like Maple House and felt like Beola’s was a half-step below due to the pricing and the scattered menu choices, I think.

The service was friendly, as you would expect of a Southern-style restaurant, even though the server was working alone and juggling a few tables. Unusually, a point of sale device was brought to our table to ring up the bill and show us the change we would be owed.

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Column: German visit provides food for thought, tastebuds

For Wednesday’s column, I write a little about the customs but mostly about the food and beverages from Germany and from my overnight jaunt to the Czech Republic. Above, three types of sausages, with sauerkraut and potatoes, in Dresden; below, a knuckle, sauerkraut and bread dumplings, also in Dresden; at bottom, the staff at a Prague shop prepare trdelniks.

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Top Hat, repainted

Top Hat Liquor, a long-lived Pomona shop with a jaunty roofline and cosmopolitan name, got a new paint job in April, as seen in the photo above.

To explain in brief why this is news, I had taken a photo of the business last October when passing by (on my way to follow candidate Tim Sandoval as he canvassed a neighborhood — I wonder what ever happened to him?), then forgot about it until finding the photo in July and turning it into a quick tribute post on this blog. That’s the photo below.

People got worked up on Facebook over the peeling paint, vowing to organize a clean-up and painting day after a plan to contact the owner. Well-intentioned, but it went about as far as most such online efforts, which are easier to type than to carry out.

But then City Hall contacted me with the photo above. “You’ve given readers the ‘before’ photo. Here’s the ‘after’ photo,” writes Mark Lazzaretto, development services director.

The code compliance team noticed the condition of the business in early April and by the 18th, the trim had been repainted and some of the banners and signs had been taken down for a cleaner appearance, he told me.

That’s good news, as well as being a lesson for me about taking care when presenting photos a few months after the fact. Even situations that have not changed in years sometimes change when you least expect it.

A tip of the top hat to City Hall. The next round is on us.

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Reading Log: August 2017

Books acquired: “Slaughterhouse-Five,” Kurt Vonnegut

Books read: “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay,” Michael Chabon; “Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip,” Robert Landau; “Slaughterhouse-Five,” Kurt Vonnegut

I used August and an overseas trip to finally tackle “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay,” which I’ve owned since 2001 but which, at 639 pages, I was too intimidated by to start. The vacation didn’t really provide more reading time than usual, since I was also absorbed in reading pages from my guidebook, but it was good to finally be reading it: It won a Pulitzer and is about the early days of comic books, which are one of my hobbies.

Two young Jewish cousins create an escape artist character, making millions for their publisher and thousands for themselves, a common occurrence back then. Escape becomes a metaphor in the book; the artist’s family is still in Prague on the eve of World War II and he tries to liberate them, much as he himself escaped. Having scenes set in Prague, a city I was to visit, was an unexpected bonus. I liked the novel and found myself absorbed — even if it was a bit long.

Incidentally, I bought my copy at the San Diego Comic Con in 2001, when Chabon was the guest of honor. I wasn’t planning to buy the hardcover, but one morning I was browsing the near-empty Comic Relief vendor space when I realized owner Rory Root was speaking to fellow Berkeleyite Chabon. A big stack of “K&C” was between us. I got Root’s attention and said impishly, “If I buy the book, will Mr. Chabon sign it?” Root looked at Chabon and he smiled and said sure. He complimented the graphic novel I had in my hands, Raymond Briggs’ “Ethel and Ernest,” saying his wife had liked it. He said this was his first comic convention and he was enjoying it.

Later he would give a well-attended talk while wearing a T-shirt with the logo Miskatonic University, a sly nod to H.P. Lovecraft, which I somehow knew even though I hadn’t read any Lovecraft yet, having apparently absorbed just enough of the mythology through Marvel comics or other sources. My friends and probably hundreds more formed an enormous line to meet him and get his signature. Me, I’d gotten mine before his hand got tired.

I felt too much pressure to keep this copy in nice shape, even if it was the 8th or 9th printing. Eventually I bought a beat-up paperback, possibly at Berkeley’s Shakespeare and Co., but even that sat on my shelf a few years. It did help to have a copy that could be toted around Europe with impunity. I suppose now I can sell it, while keeping the signed version.

It took me just over three weeks to read it, and it might have been the only book I read all month. It was, actually. But I finished Robert Landau’s book, which had been on my nightstand, Sept. 1, and Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Sept. 3, just in time for this Reading Log.

Taken when he was living in the neighborhood, Landau’s documentary photos of rock promotional billboards from about 1968-1982 now seem charming and magical. It’s an ode to a bygone era of ego stroking, big hair, heavy sounds, important (or “important”) albums, hand-painted billboards, Tower Records, rock DJs and a very local approach to marketing. I bought it last month from the author himself.

Absurdist and heartbreaking, the writing and structure of “Slaughterhouse-Five” appear so casual that they’re always on the verge of collapsing, but never do, and that’s part of the book’s brilliance. Still, 106 uses of “So it goes” seems a bit much. I bought this at Berlin’s Dussmann store a few days after a Vonnegut tour of Dresden, the setting of much of the novel, and hope to write a column about it shortly.

How was your August, readers? Any amazing adventures, or were you cavalier?

Next month: my annual Jack Smith book, probably, and more.

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