With a cheery wash of sunlight on a typically sunny day in downtown Pomona, the 2nd Street Bistro is transformed into a sidewalk café on the Left Bank. Only it’s not French, really, at least not in cuisine—it’s more Italian with Parisian accents, as evidenced by the Pernod and Paris-Champagne art that hangs on the open brick walls, and the beautiful French Disaster (more on that later), which is everything it bills itself to be.
Which is just as it should be for a restaurant located in the heart of the Pomona Arts Colony. The beautiful tin ceilings at the 2nd Street Bistro gives the long corridor a spatial, older feeling, the kind of warmth that a neighborhood pub in New York might. The three big ceiling fans turn at a slow suggestive pace. The wine racks are stacked with fine regional bottles; there are pots and pans hanging from hooks in the prep area towards the back. In short, everything carries a winsome, unhurried feel; a clean, well-lighted place (to borrow from Papa Hemingway).
On my visit, I made the leisurely decision to leave things in the hands of our server in guiding my choices. The Quiche Lorraine caught my eye initially, as this is the kind of place that would be known for its quiche, and the Poulet Dijonaise seemed like a can’t miss proposition, but the waitress diverted my attention from these items with mention of the Crêpe Florentine ($11). But of course—French breads, wines, cognacs, patio dining, crêpes! As for our second entrée, she intrigued us with the French Disaster ($8.50), a hamburgerish item of ground beef and ratatouille (a mix of vegetables, tomatoes and herbs). Not to further confuse regions, but while in Rome . . .
As we didn’t order an appetizer for this lunch, bread was brought out to the table, and it was the standard artisan tough crust and chewy center. Main courses arrived perhaps fifteen minutes after we ordered, and both looked as artistic as they did dig-in-able.
The Crêpe Florentine was a picture of culinary health; a light crepe filled with chicken, mushrooms and spinach, and drizzled with a white wine sauce. We ordered that with a salad of greens with a homemade balsamic dressing, which had touches of a mystery berry. The crêpe pancake was light, not oily or buttery, and folded over the steaming contents. One bite was all it took to make a believer of me, as this delicate and warm specialty, with the chicken lean and tasty, the vegetables tumbling and fresh, was worth the trip in itself.
As for the French Disaster, well, it was pretty good and might be suited for experimentalists, as with any kind of burger that introduces dissimilar ingredients. The ratatouille was more like a sauce with vegetables and, not that it was our expectation, nothing like the movie where it’s a kind of indecipherable Pringle stew. Perhaps the better standout here were the garlic fries, which were dusted with herbs and perfectly prepared.
The new owners of the 2nd Street Bistro have done a fine job giving up its charms, while serving up great food. While we didn’t order a dessert this time through, or try and find a poem at the bottom of a wine glass, we did enjoy the meal and ambiance and the slow feel of leisure. It’s a fine place to end up on a sunny afternoon, and now the bistro is open for dinner, as well.
The 2nd Street Bistro, 171 West 2nd Street, Pomona, (909) 622-6619. Lunch or Dinner for two, $25-$30. Open Mon.–Fri., 11AM–3PM; Tues.–Sat., 5PM–9PM. MC, V