A Dog’s Wag
By Ashley Bennett
Dogs have got it easy. No accountability and they get fed all the time. Sometimes you might wish that instead of having responsibility it would be nice to just curl up somewhere and sleep. This is the idea that led to the look and feel of The Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar. It all started when founder Chris Simms saw a dog relaxing by the warmth of a fireplace. Humans deserve that sort of relaxation too, right?
With the creativity of Chef Gabriel Caliendo (10-year veteran from the Ritz Carlton and now with 10 years at The Lazy Dog) The Lazy Dog now thrives in the IE just for hungering humans like yourself to relax and have good, unique food. Don’t write off old Fido though, the outdoor patio actually allows dogs (so long as they don’t sit on the table and they’re properly leashed). This Lazy Dog location opened only just last month so you can bet that there’s a palpable newness to be experienced by all diners and dogs alike.
Other than the warm wood used to build The Lazy Dog’s interior and various images of amiable pups, the experience begins up in the rafters of the building. The lights are high enough above your table to remain unnoticed but are positioned perfectly to send a spotlight right down into the center of the table, leaving each and every dish to glow like it’s the star of a Broadway food musical. The Wok-Fired Calamari starter, presented with a good amount of vibrant orange slices of cooked calamari sitting on top of a bed of rice, glowed because of that spotlight. Glow alone won’t make things taste any better or worse but fortunately for the sweet soy plum sauce and added peanuts and peppers, this meal was more than enough food for a starter.
As for main meals, the Sundried Tomato Pesto Penne is a large amount of noodles and pesto hiding a plethora of juicy and flavorful chicken underneath. Again that spotlight refused to make the food look no less than amazing. Once you unearth the flavored encased chicken you will only stop eating when that belt of your breaks. Hey, it’s America. That can actually happen here.
Of course, seafood has found its own niche in the Inland Empire. Here the glory dish of the sea is the Ginger Soy Salmon. A delectable cut of grilled salmon came before me, the ever-present lighting bringing out the active colors of the darkened salmon exterior and soy sauce. Sitting atop white rice were ample amounts of broccoli, grilled onions and carrots pieces. The veggies were crisp and the salmon delicious leaving the dish as a whole to be a filling and relatively healthy meal. Not to mention that it’s clear that salmon is worth every penny and bite when you can use a fork to cut through the meat like it was pudding.
Speaking of dessert, I never lie when I advise a fellow dessert lover to save room for it. Tempting are the choices that The Lazy Dog offers and if you’re with a party that can help eat the beast of an Apple Cobbler, go for it. Resistance of the steamy goodness rising up from beneath the crust of sweet cobbler is futile. Take one spoon-scoop full of vanilla bean ice cream, whipped cream and that oh-so dangerously sweet cobbler and you won’t be able to stop.
We don’t often review restaurants with multiple locations (gotta give love to the single-location mom and pop places, too), but The Lazy Dog is a great addition to the Inland Empire. The restaurants (a few locations referred to as the “Lazy Dog Cafe”) have seen success in other neighboring counties of Southern California, but it’s clear that The Lazy Dog is a big plus-one tally mark on the list of Rancho’s great restaurants.
The Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar, 11560 4th St., Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 987-4131; www.lazydogcafe.com. Sun, 10am-12am. Mon-Sat, 11am-12am. AE, M, V.