Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ra Pour: Elevating Rancho Cucamonga

I wouldn't normally consider going to Rancho Cucamonga to dine, but the promise of a free hotel stay sounded like a nice getaway and convinced me to go check out this new restaurant headed by Executive Chef Greg Stillman, a French Laundry and Patina alum. On the drive to the restaurant, we saw what other places were in Rancho Cucamonga and it was pretty much restaurant chain capital.

Ra Pour is located inside the Victoria Gardens outdoor mall. The restaurant is large and a divider separates a large table facing the kitchen - a semi-private "chef's table"
The other side of the restaurant was the lounge area - even the lighting was different. Apparently after regular dinner hours the place turns into a club with DJs - not really my kind of scene.
The table started with a glass of sparkling wine, a 2007 Brut Taittinger Domaine Carneros, and shared some appetizers including tempura mushrooms and my favorite: lobster pops with lemongrass coconut sauce
The pops had actual chunks of lobster inside, not shredded and mixed. I tried the tempura mushrooms but didn't realize it had a dipping sauce which didn't make it to my side of the table at the same time, so it was incomplete.

The cocktail list contains five "signature cocktails" at $14 each and five "vintage cocktails" at $12 each. I went with one from the vintage list, the Highlander with Famous Grouse blended scotch whiskey, fresh grapefruit juice, house made grenadine, clover honey, orange bitters. I tried my friends' "signature cocktails" which lean towards the sweeter side.

More appetizers included shrimp and pesto pizza ($12) and wild mushroom pizza - I thought the mushroom on was jut ok, try the shrimp pesto.

Pork belly, greengage plums, rhubarb, marcona almond ($9) was paired with 2010 Riesling, SnoQualmie, Columbia Valley
The portion was pretty small, but I liked how the sweet and tartness of the plum cuts the fat.

Most of the entrees range around $25, but I just had to go with the lobster "mac and cheese" (never say no to lobster) with butter poached lobster, mascarpone enriched orzo, and parmesan crisp ($35)
This was paired with 2009 Chardonnay Schug, Sonoma Coast, California
It was more like a lobster risotto, but nonetheless how could I not enjoy buttery, sweet lobster with creamy pasta? This was definitely the highlight of the night for me.

The desserts were served family style, though not everything made it my way. I managed to try the Arbequina olive oil panna cotta, greengage plums, and potato doughnuts.
Unfortunately I only got tiny bites of the dessert, so I can't really say much about them.

Some of the other bloggers didn't really like their duck entree, which I didn't try, but I enjoyed my lobster.
I thought the prices were pretty reasonable for the appetizers. The entrees are pretty expensive but similar to prices in LA (and probably also comparable to nearby Fleming's). Chef Stillman admitted that he had to tone down the menu for the Rancho Cucamonga crowd (apparently pork belly doesn't sell as well in the desert!) and not get too creative, but Ra Pour is certainly still a nice change from all the chain restaurants in the area, and maybe it will help the crowd get ready for more quality food.

Ra Pour
7900 Kew Avenue
 Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739
 (909) 899-7999
  Ra Pour on Urbanspoon Disclosure: this meal was hosted.


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