On vacation

I’m away from work this week, burning up my birthday and anniversary holidays from work and three vacation days. Efficient, eh? More bang for the buck.

That said, a Wednesday column will appear, written last Friday, and a Restaurant of the Week will pop up on Thursday as usual. I’ve been a little backlogged on those, to the extent that last week’s restaurant turned out to have closed between my visit (mid-February), preparation of the post (late February) and publication (late March). So I’ll go ahead and run the one that’s ready to go and hit the ground eating when I get back.

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Restaurant of the Week: Souvlla Greek Grill

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CLOSED

Souvlla Greek Grill, 1945 N. Campus Ave. (at 19th), Upland; open daily

In mid-February, finding myself near the Colonies Crossroads Center and very hungry, I went looking for food. I pulled into the western half of the center with the intention of going to zPizza, and that’s when I saw Souvlla. I’d heard about it back when it opened, in 2014, and then, as sometimes happens, forgot the whole thing. Rather than go to the familiar pizza place, this was definitely worth a try.

It was past 8:30 p.m., which is about the time the Inland Valley goes to sleep, but Souvlla would be open until 9, so I went in.

The menu has gyro sandwiches, salads, plates and a list of sides, rice bowls and burritos (!). It’s not traditional Greek, clearly. I got a gyros plate ($11) with lamb, rice and a salad. As a fan of Greek food, I thought this was decent, comparable to Cafe Moderno in Montclair or Saca’s in Claremont. That said, I was nonplussed to see the option of a pork gyro instead of lamb and am not sure what to make of it.

A few minutes before 9 p.m., the music was shut off, a sign that we shouldn’t get too comfortable. It was me at one table and three people, who’d arrived after me, at another. We left at the same time about 10 minutes later. But I understood: The Inland Valley needs its beauty sleep.

Update: Before this post could be published, the restaurant closed.

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Millard Sheets’ (and a copyist’s) ‘Angels Flight’

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Leaving the Pomona City Clerk’s office a few weeks back, I was surprised to see a copy of local boy Millard Sheets’ famous 1931 painting “Angels Flight” on a wall. It’s a crude version of the original, below, which is in the collection of LACMA. Here’s an appreciation from the LAObserved blog. There were student paintings hanging elsewhere on City Hall’s second floor and this might be part of that effort; an even cruder “Angels Flight” was among them.

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Farewell, New China

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New China, a longtime Chinese restaurant in Upland (2008 W. Foothill Blvd. at Benson Central) closed earlier in 2016, several readers informed me sadly. I went by the other day to take photos. There’s no note of explanation, unless the for-sale sign counts.

I don’t know much about the place; I ate there once, pre-blog, and recall the interior being dim, with lots of dark wood paneling. My guess is that it’s been New China since the ’90s. But over the years people have told me the location was previously the Sagehen Cafe, and that the neon bird art outside (see below) is a holdover from those days.

I’ll have to rely on you folks to tell me more in the comments section.

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Restaurant of the Week: Saca’s Mediterranean Cuisine

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Saca’s Mediterranean Cuisine, 248 W. 2nd St. (at Harvard), Claremont; open daily

In business since 1992, Saca’s has always been a fast, affordable option in the Village. Many were the evenings that I stopped in for a falafel sandwich and spent under $4. Right across from City Hall and the library, it’s had location going for it too. It’s been the closest thing the Inland Valley has had to a Zankou, at least until Zaky got going.

Not everyone liked Saca’s. One Claremont friend refused to go there, and while I liked it okay, I’m not sure I’d have traveled for the privilege. In 2014, the founders retired and sold the small restaurant to a couple of neighbors, who are French. The interior was lightened, the menu updated and the hours expanded. Saca’s is now open for a late breakfast and on Sundays.

I’ve been in a couple of times since the handover and, in a possibly heretical comment, found the falafel improved; before the crust was crunchy to the point of seeming burnt, but no longer. Recently I went in for a Sunday lunch with three friends, none of whom had ever eaten there.

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The menu has pita sandwiches, salads, rotisserie chicken and platters, and it’s friendly to vegetarians, vegans and people who want dairy-free and gluten-free items, all marked. Our table got a falafel salad ($6.29, above), falafel sandwich ($4.89), maza platter ($8.29) and lamb shawerma platter ($10.39).

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Everybody liked their food. The most poetic said of his salad: “It was fantastic. It was light, delicious and invigorating.” The sandwich man said he was very happy with his order, above, although he admitted there might have been too much of it; not trusting Saca’s, he had spent $2 to add more of almost everything to his sandwich, which he then had to eat with a knife and fork.

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The maza platter, above, had two falafels, hummus, two dolmas (grape leaves), a small salad, pickled turnips and two pitas. The friend who got that liked it, only being disappointed by her $3 side of rice, which didn’t have much taste.

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My lamb platter was the most expensive thing I’ve ever ordered at Saca’s. It had small strips of lamb, rice, pickled turnips, hummus and two pitas. Somehow I was expecting more from this plate, but it was good enough. Oh, and we got pieces of baklava ($2) — the bakery case is right by where you place your order — and I got a Moroccan mint tea ($1.59). Invigorating!

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