I don’t think I’ve ever been to Rancho Cucamonga, apart driving through it on the way somewhere. So when I was invited to a blogger event out there, it was an opportunity for me to experience it once and for all.
The event was a visit to one of the newer restaurants to the area, something different to the usual chain offerings which made up the culinary topography. Upon entry, I immediately felt like this was a restaurant reminiscent of LA, with a chic interior and trendy decor, rather than out there in the desert.
Ra Pour is the brain child of the Webb family who has been in the business for quite some time, and with Chef Greg Stillman at the helm. Stillman’s resume reads The French Laundry and The Patina Group — impressive for one so young.
We were invited to try the dinner menu with a reprise the next morning to sample the brunch menu. The first evening, the group of bloggers from all around southern California gathered for a shared tasting of appetizers and desserts with our choice of first and second courses.
Lobster pops were everyone’s favorite, with chunks of lobster hidden inside.
Tempura mushrooms was another favorite and the accompanying dipping sauce nicely enhanced the woodsy flavors.
If you’re in the mood for pizza, or if you have kids with you, the wood oven pizzas are decent. We sampled the Asparagus, Shrimp and Pesto, which is good if you like shrimp on your pizza.
For me, the Wild Mushroom pizza was a better choice for me since I love fungi.
Next came the first course and there were two to choose from. Luckily, I sampled some off my friends’ plates so I can tell you between the pork belly with greengage plums, rhubarb, marcona almond…..
and the ahi tuna in ponzu with rice crisp, avocado, sesame, toasted nori and togarashi, I definitely preferred the latter. First off, I’m not a big fan of pork belly, so you shouldn’t take my word for it anyway. Second, I love ponzu and togarashi, so the verdict was an easy one.
Entree choices included a lobster “mac and cheese” seemed a favorite among most of the bloggers, perhaps due to the lure of lobster. The butter poached lobster chunks were generous but the mascarpone enriched orzo threw me off. I had my mind set on mac and cheese and the orzo gave it a risotto consistency rather than mac and cheese.
Grilled duck breast was slightly overcooked for me as I like mine rather pink in the middle. The accompanying Japanese sweet potato, hedgehog mushrooms, passion fruit, micro cilantro and duck jus was interesting when combined into one mouthful.
The restaurant turns into a night club of sorts later in the evening. The music is louder and there are bouncers at the door controlling the crowds who enter. My little group at the end of our table decided to call it a night and returned the next morning for brunch.
We ordered off the menu this time so the portions reflect menu pricing.
We started with platters of Fresh Fruit of the Season ($9) at both ends of the table. Melons pineapple papaya, mango, splashed with champagne and sprinkled with freshly chopped mint made for a refreshing start.
Yogurt Parfait ($7) with blueberry compote, mixed fresh berries, yogurt, granola was another item we tried.
I think most of us were excited when we saw Chicken and Waffles ($14) on the menu. The chicken was nicely fried, tender and moist on the inside. A tabasco reduction with candied jalapeno was lovely, but I didn’t care for the malted waffle which was a bit overcooked and hard.
Biscuits, Fried Chicken and Gravy ($16) has the same delicious chicken I loved, but I didn’t like the sausage gravy because it was sweet — maple syrup perhaps? — but I’m not a fan of sweet in savory dishes. The buttermilk fried chicken was perfection though.
I’m an eggs Benedict ($15) fiend and this was definitely on my radar. Unfortunately, the poached eggs were hard and the truffle did not add anything to the final dish. I was disappointed with this item.
Duck confit hash ($16) was our favorite. Great complex flavors, albeit a little salty, but I like salt. The poached eggs on this was a hit and miss — one egg was runny while the other hard.
A leisurely brunch is always a good way to start the weekend and Ra Pour manages to offer something different to the mix out there in Rancho Cucamonga. Whether you’re dining or brunching, if you’re out in that area, this would be the place to go. It is eclectic and definitely a breath of fresh air in comparison.
7900 Kew Avenue
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739