While I’m not one for doing restaurant reviews, the lovely Mrs. C insisted that I should blog about this one as it’s been consistently one of our favorites and we believe in supporting good, local establishments whenever possible. This one certainly deserves to be on everyone’s list of dining treats.
With our daughter home for the holidays from NYU, we decided to have a nice dinner out before starting on the rounds of visits from family and friends. With the demise of Brasserie Astuce, our new favorite place to go for French food is Café Montclair. Located on Central near Kingsley in Montclair (while outside our Pomona boundaries, still close enough to be “home”) this restaurant is in a building that was previously the Plum Tree restaurant and was once, I believe, a Millies. According to the ads which run in the Daily Bulletin, the chef was previously with the Mission Inn in Riverside.
For this occasion, we decided to forgo our usual Calamari (never a disappointment) and start with their homemade potato chips with blu cheese sauce. All I can say is “fabulous.” The chips were what one would expect from made-on-the premises chips (I’m thinking Buffalo Inn), but the sauce was superlative. It was a light white sauce that wasn’t overpowering as one might expect with blu cheese.
For our entrée, the kid and I had the Osso Bucco special, a lamb shank served over mashed potatoes. Deb had the New York steak with a gorgonzola sauce. We all had the white bean soup. Again, the food was everything one might expect. And the wine list is admirable. We can also recommend their meat loaf (yes, but it’s worth it), the beef tips stroganoff, as well as their pasta dishes.
But the main reason to go to Café Montclair is more than the food. The owner is always there to greet you and to make sure everything is going well. And the hostess is someone who we’ve known for some time and has always been a delight. Pia is one of the family that owned and operated DiCenso’s on Foothill in Upland for many years. When the kid was very young (too young to have any memories of it) we used to go there and Pia, her mother, and sister one time took her into the kitchen to show her how pasta was made. While she doesn’t remember it, it must have made an impression on her because she loves to work in the kitchen to this day. DiCenso’s moved and the new location never quite had the wonderful ambiance that the Foothill location had, but at least it had Pia. Pia is now at Montclair and is as effervescent as ever. Like the owner, she checks on you from time to time and makes sure that everything is just right. The waitress is a lovely woman with a lilting French accent, who is likewise delightful. And we can’t ignore the young, again French accented, young man who is the busboy. He is also very attentive to your every need. I’m guessing that, with the exception of Pia, that this is all a family run operation and it has that really good kind of “family” vibe.
All-in-all, this is a place where you shouldn’t be disappointed.