Saturday, August 26, 2017

Pomona Valley Mining Company -- 1777 Gillette Rd Pomona, CA 91768

My Meal Cost: $133.65 for 4 plus trip. Health Rating A. Yelp 3 stars

Photo from Yelp
This past week has been one of a lot of dining out with an anniversary dinner (Pasadena), theater dinner (DTLA), wife's birthday dinner (Pasadena), and dinner with a couple of friends (Claremont), all fine dining experiences outside our fair city. So it was with interest that I got an email from local newspaper columnist, "Scoop," asking if I'd be interested in joining him (he does a weekly restaurant review on his blog), and Johnny Diner from The New Diner blog, to experience Pomona Valley Mining Company together. So what is it like when food writers get together? We ate, we talked, we left and wrote.

Pomona Valley Mining Company sits on top of a hill north of the 10 Freeway at Dudley. It has a large electronic billboard out front which is very visible from the freeway. After driving up a very steep road you come into the large parking lot. This particular weekday evening it was about half full of cars which means that they must be doing some pretty decent business.

The building itself is a theme type building of an old mining operations. Think something you might see at Knotts Berry Farm ghost town. It has lots of rustic mining paraphernalia and and an entrance that resembles the opening of a mine shaft, meaning you walk down some steep stairs to get to the dining room.

I've been coming here since the early 70s so none of this was new to me. This is a favorite banquet spot in town and I believe that the last couple of times I've been here have been in the banquet rooms (upstairs or parking lot level) where we didn't order off the menu. They also have a full bar which back in the 80s when the Lovely Mrs. C and I were dating was an occasional stop to listen to live bands and have an evening drink.

The dining room itself has floor to ceiling windows on the south side overlooking the south Pomona Valley across to Elephant Hill and toward the east to the downtown skyline. Oh, and you can watch the cars and trucks whisking briskly past on the freeway. It is a pleasant ambiance for a date night (or to dine with food bloggers -- really?).

The Lovely Mrs. C was also invited to join the group so it was Scoop, Johnny Diner, me, and Mrs. C. The waitress was very quick to come by and inquire about drink orders. For some reason the "guys" in the group all only ordered water (I must have been all wine'd out from those previous dinners), while The Lovely Mrs. C had lemonade (this was a really lively crowd).

Once we had given our orders, we were given a basket of cheese bread (very good) and directed to the full Salad Bar, a feature that is not found in too many places any more. They had a good selection of lettuces, seafood salad, fresh veggies, and toppings such as peanuts, sunflower seeds, bacon crumbles, and a good number of dressings as well, more than enough to satisfy your inner herbivore. They also had three soups as part of the salad bar, while Scoop, Mrs. C and I only had salad, Johnny Diner also added a small bowl of clam chowder.

The Lovely Mrs. C ordered her favorite rib-eye steak with steamed veggies. Scoop had the most expensive dish of the three of us ($34) with a filet mignon steak with mushrooms and butter and mashed potatoes. Johnny Diner (who if you read his blog you'd know is a Pescatarian, which means that he doesn't eat meat but does eat seafood) and I both ordered the Shrimp and Scallops Scampi, he had it with rice pilaf and I, being the spud lover that I am, had the mashed potatoes.

The Lovely Mrs. C liked her steak but found that it didn't rise to the level of the previous week's steak in Pasadena. She felt that, while it was the proper doneness (medium rare), it didn't appear to have been grilled at high enough heat so there wasn't the crustiness to the outside.

I didn't hear any complaints from Scoop who is fairly quiet so I'm not sure how he felt about his meal, although I'm sure we'll learn when he writes about it on his blog. However both Johnny Diner and I were puzzled by our Scampi. My experience with Scampi is that it's usually served in a butter sauce with lemon and garlic. This was served in a bechamel sauce (flour, butter, and milk or cream) which was underspiced. No lemon, no garlic. A lemon wedge accompanied this and helped a little, but the bechamel was very floury and detracted from the grilled, fairly large, shrimp and scallops. The scallops themselves were the large ones which I personally find to be less flavorful than the smaller scallops, these seemed to lack flavor but it may have been a result of swimming in the bechamel sauce. The potatoes were adequate.

All in all a very pleasant dinner, with good company and decent if not overly exciting food. I'm sure I'll be back. Although I don't think, from a food perspective, that we went wrong going to Pasadena for our special occasion dinners.

As we were leaving Pomona Valley Mining Company, we spotted a coyote running across the parking lot.We followed it part way down the steep hill from the parking lot before it disappeared in the brush. It certainly added that bit of ambiance that an old mining camp might have had, but wasn't quite the wild life we had found at the Pomona Valley Mining Company in years past. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Metro Ale House & Grill -- 197 East 2nd St Pomona, CA 91766

My Meal Cost: $28.55 for 2 plus trip. Health Rating A. Yelp 4 stars

Lovely Mrs. C and I decided to go downtown for lunch on Monday. Our idea was to go to the Rookery (a favorite for burgers) but found that they were closed on Mondays (don't you hate it when that happens?). So we crossed Garey and headed over to the Metro Ale House.

Metro Ale House is located on Second Street in the "Antiques Row" section of downtown right next to the Locust St. Plaza. In a historic building, the Ale House is a three story brick structure with outside seating along second street as well as locust plaza.

In the past we've been to events on both the second and third floors with the upper floors available for banquets and special events. There is also a basement tavern with pool, darts, and TVs. On the street level is the main dining room with a 31 foot long full bar which features 40 beer taps for most any taste.

There are the ubiquitous large screen TVs throughout the dining area for those who want to add this to their spot for catching an important game.

Their menu is fairly extensive and includes some "local flavor" items such as the loaded Pomona fries (Seasoned fries loaded with tender shaved pepper pastrami, melted provolone, diced pickles and yellow mustard). They have 15 items on the appetizer menu for those who want "bar" food. They also have a selection of pastas, a pita pizza, soup, salad, 11 sandwiches, 8 burgers, 4 chicken dishes, 3 different steaks, and 4 different seafood items. Their menu has identified which items are appropriate for vegetarians, a nice plus. They also have sides, soft beverages, and a separate desert menu.

Since we were planning on burgers for lunch, that was the direction we went. The Lovely Mrs. C opted for the BBQ burger, while I decided on the pastrami burger. Burgers are made from freshly ground beef so you have the option of how you would like your burger cooked. Mine was a perfect medium rare with a nice warm red center. Side options are fries, onion rings, fried zucchini, fried pickles, or a side salad. We both decided that this was to be a fries meal.

The fries were extra crispy with a good creamy center. Done perfectly! The burgers came on a brioche roll. The BBQ burger had cheese, bacon, and a smokey BBQ sauce. The pastrami burger came with excellent quality pastrami, provolone cheese, pickles, grilled red onions and mustard. These were definitely 2 napkin burgers (or more). The burgers were about 4" high and we both cut ours in half to facilitate eating. My only complaint is that the cook seemed to have a heavy hand with the salt shaker. But perhaps that's a ploy to sell more beer. Not too bad, but if you're on a low sodium diet you might want to mention this when you order.

In addition, the meals came with a pickle slice and the pastrami burger with 2 pepperoncinis. For beverages the Lovely Mrs. C. ordered a diet coke. When the waitress brought it, she noticed that it didn't seem to have any bubbles. Mrs. C tasted it and confirmed that there was no carbonation. The waitress took it back and came back saying that the diet coke seemed to have a problem and asked if she would like anything else. Mrs. C. decided to have a regular coke this time out. I had iced tea.

The service was excellent. The Lovely Mrs. C. often complains that wait staff seems to ignore her and doesn't refill her drink while they "fawn" over me (I think she exaggerates, but it's how she feels). She was extremely happy with the level of service she received here.

A great addition to the downtown Pomona dining experience.

Day Day's BBQ and Wafflehouse -- 994 E Holt Blvd Pomona, CA 91767

My Meal Cost: $18.55 plus trip. Health Rating A. Yelp 4.5 stars It's been a while, but with the Lovely Mrs. C on her annual fam...