Haandi Indian Cuisine (CLOSED)

 7890 Haven Ave
Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Try a Chaitini!

We had a flavorful, plentiful dinner at Haandi and we would definitely go back. I ordered the Vegetarian Combination dinner and my fiancé ordered the Haandi Special Combination (which was a little of all their specialties). The portions were large and a great value for the price and everything was flavorful. My favorite part of the meal was the Mushroom Masala and his favorite was the Tandoori Chicken. We both also liked the Yellow Dal. My only complaint was that we ordered our meals spicy and it was not spicy at all really. I think this may have been because we were seated with a large party and everyone was ordering different spice levels so they may have decided to just stick with mild – medium (a mistake in my book regardless).

The atmosphere was nice and it’s a nice place for a date or an evening with friends. They did have a distracting TV playing Indian musicals or something which I could probably do without, only because it was distracting for me, but all in all, a nice restaurant in an unlikely place- an older strip mall complete with bowling alley and an El Pollo Loco.

One last thing, the Chai tea that came with the meal was really good, but if you’re in the mood for a cocktail, the Chaitini is a must.



 8220 Haven Ave. #102
Rancho Cucamonga, CA

a tale of two tunas

This place is average. I can see why some might call it “good” because the place is nice inside and they have a full bar and flat screen TVs which apparently make a good happy hour haven. Also, their baked and tempura rolls are good…but it’s hard not to taste at least “good” (not amazing) when you’re deep fried and/or slathered in mayonnaise based sauces.

My issue with this place is the quality of the fish… I ordered a Passion Roll which was from the ‘Fresh Rolls’ menu because I wanted to really taste the fish. This roll was supposed to have spicy tuna which was only really spicy because they put a dot of “rooster sauce” on each piece and then drew lines on the plate with more. The tuna was ground up and a bit mealy in my opinion, but edible, like I said, it was just “ok”.

My friend ordered the “Dragon Crunch Roll” which was off the Tempura Rolls menu, it was good, but like I said, it’s hard to fail something in a tempura batter, covered in sauce. We were a party of eight so I was able to try quite a few other rolls. So here’s where the second “tale of tuna” comes in, I tried a roll that had a fresh piece of tuna on it, but was again disappointed. My piece was chewy and hard to eat. When eating raw tuna I like it to be easy to bite, buttery in texture and fresh; a filet cut because this is, after all, sushi! This was none of the above.

Also, the seaweed used to wrap these monstrous rolls was so hard to bite through! If I could have put an entire piece in my mouth I would have but the pieces are quite large and it’s a messy and hard to chew… but try as we did, it was hard to even cut these suckers with a fork!! A friend of mine that likes this place said she always orders their “soy paper” for this reason; it cost a little more but would be worth it!!

All in all, it was average to me. I went here one night after two other sushi “hot spots” in Rancho were completely packed and had an hour wait. We went here and were seated right away if that tells you anything.

Passion Roll

Just Ok. Like I stated in my review, there are better places in town for “fresh rolls”. This place seems to specialize in their baked and tempura rolls because the quality of the fish is pretty average so it benefits from deep frying, tempura batters and rich sauces.


Pomona Baking Company

 200 E 1st St
Pomona, CA

"I want one of everything please..."

This is my favorite bakery. It’s not all glitzy and trendy, like “Sprinkles”… it’s a just a real, honest neighborhood bakery with real people, real ingredients and real good stuff.

This place is tiny, but you can eat outside or take your food, bread, cookies, scones, or whatever else you manage to carry, to go. The breads and cookies are made fresh and are best described as artisanal and delectable. My favorites are the Jalapeno Cheese Bread, the Curry Bread (I toast this and spread hummus on it and it makes great sandwich bread too) and the Snickerdoodles and Chocolate Hazelnut cookies—-SO GOOD!!

BUT WAIT, there’s more… there are also the daily lunch specials and they change, um, daily! I’ve had the macaroni and cheese (which comes in its own little baking tin that could easily serve two unless you’re like me and refuse to share) which has a blend of herbs (I think thyme and oregano to name a few) and a blend of cheeses that makes it better than anything you’d ever get out of a box. They also make these wonderful, “gourmet” pizzas that people were ordering as quickly as they were coming out of the oven!

I follow these guys on Twitter so I can be updated on the daily specials which have ranged from chicken pot pies, meat loaf, and the aforementioned mac & cheese to name a few…

This owner-operated bakery is located in the Antique/Art Row of down town Pomona. It’s a bit tucked away from the street but right near the Metro Link Parking Lot. The bakery is co-owned by a number of local chefs and bakers, many of which trained at local colleges and universities. Opening a business is tough these days. Opening a place with co-owners that all share a passion for a service orientated, quality-first, baking and cooking is even tougher and quite rare. Pomona is a bit far for me but I’m happy to support their efforts and look forward to returning as often as I can.

Mac & Cheese

As I stated above, this is better than anything you’ve had from a box. My boss hates “kid’s food” which to him, includes mac & cheese, and he’s also Italian, east coast Italian, so he has even more picky about his pasta, so when I ordered it, he was expectedly- disgusted with me. However, he took one look at the baked cheddar top and insisted on trying it. So I let him have a taste, he wanted more, I refused. It was so good!!! It was creamy and herby and it satisfied my inner kid and my outer adult. There is such a thoughtful flavor of herbs and seasoning throughout, I finished every last bit. I think it was a blend of oregano and thyme, but I’m not sure… I’ll ask next time I get it and there will be many next times at this place, for sure!


Gourmet Pizza Shoppe

 120 E State St
Redlands, CA

Pizza! Pizza? PIZZA!!

I love this place, I really do! This is the kind of place you either love or hate, there is no middle ground here. This is mostly because of the crust. It’s not a traditional doughy crust…it’s almost like a thin, pre-baked biscuit like crust, which if someone told me that going in, I would not be intrigued. However, it works. It holds up well to the mountains of toppings they put on and it doesn’t take over, instead it acts like a very good catalyst for all the toppings, sauce and spices… and let me tell you about those spices: AWESOME. They really season their pizzas well, I mean beyond the savory sauce, they actually season their ingredients and toppings with different herbs and spices… most notably they use combinations of garlic, oregano, basil and rosemary, even Cholula hot sauce to name a few.

The inside is also really cool, very laid back but not a traditional restaurant feel. The inside is made to look like you’re outside with murals etc… but it’s done in a very “neighborhood bar” kind of way.

So if you’re looking for a “traditional” pizza…say a thin New York or a deep dish Chicago, go elsewhere. But if you are willing to look past the “traditional” definition of pizza and see this as a new experience, give it a try. They have every thing under the sun on their menu, from mashed potatoes to peanut butter: they have it, on a pizza!

Word to the Vegetarians: they have one of the largest veggie menu/options I’ve seen at a Pizza joint in a while.

Oh and do yourself a favor and try a dessert pizza, they are just insanely good. Especially Sarah’s Surprise, which has vanilla cream cheese frosting, crushed graham crackers, melted butter, chocolate chips, brown sugar and jack cheese. EVERYONE in our group of five loved it!!!

Little Italy


This is a just a cheese pizza, but there is just something about the combination of cheeses and seasoning that make it one of the best cheese pizzas I’ve ever had.



So so so good! All of the veggies are fresh and well seasoned. Every ingredient is a star on this pizza and it comes fully loaded with a mountain of toppings.


Barbara's Victorian Tea House

 7491 Etiwanda Ave
Rancho Cucamonga, CA

the 'splendor of tea'

Barbara knows Tea. And she really knows how to transport a gal back in time. Her Victorian Tea House home is really beautiful and such a unique experience. I can see why they have so many bridal/baby showers here—what a relaxing and elegant way to spend an afternoon.

I’ve been to Tea here several times with friends and with my Tea Society and we were always well taken care of and the food, made right there in the house kitchen, was well prepared, seasoned and plentiful. I don’t think anyone in our group has managed to start, let alone finish, our desserts—we’re all so full by the time we get to them!

The best part is that they had no problem letting our group try all the different teas we wanted. That’s just good service and good business because most of us ended up buying a bit of our favorite loose leaf blends in the end. I bought the ‘Pecan Pancake’ --yes, it is as good as it sounds--add a little milk and sugar and who needs dessert??

Located on a somewhat busy street in a residential area of Rancho Cucamonga/Etiwanda, you may find trouble parking in the lot—it’s small so if there is a party booked, plan to park on the street just north of the house.

Also, reaching someone by phone can sometimes be a challenge, but persistence pays off, it’s really worth it and Barbara and her staff are the sweetest ladies you’ll ever meet. I am so lucky to have such a place just minutes away…awww the lure of a fresh baked scone…mmmm.

One more thing, Barbara’s is also a year round gift shop that specializes in Christmas decor, so if you’re the type that loves Christmas in July, do yourself a favor and visit her soon. I plan on having our Christmas party there because I could think of no other place that would do it quite like Barbara’s Tea House.

Queen Barbara's Tea

I love that she named this tea after herself! You’d do it too, don’t even lie. Anyway, in a word- Wonderful. Everything is made fresh. I know this seems like a strange way to introduce the quality of food, but for those of you that have been to Tea Houses you’ll know how important that is. I’ve been to places where they bought the scones from somewhere else and served desserts from Costco and charged twice the price. When you’re paying $25 for a meal that doesn’t include a cocktail, you at least expect fresh, and that’s what you’ll get here. I mean, I could buy Pepperidge Farm cookies and drop a tea bag in hot water at home, what you pay for is the WHOLE EXPERIENCE, and Barbara’s delivers. Everything is homemade—yum!

The Queen Barbara’s Tea includes: a gourmet quiche, assorted tea sandwiches, raspberry vinaigrette salad, chocolate dipped strawberry, homemade desserts, fresh fruit, warm scone, mock devonshire cream, preserves, lemon curd, freshly steeped tea and an Afternoon Tea Keepsake (which is usually a decorative tea spoon). You can also order The Lady Lucy’s Tea for $22 and get everything I listed minus the keepsake, which in this Tea Lovers opinion is a great value!


Back Abbey

 128 Oberlin Avenue
Claremont, CA

Go for the beer, stay for the food...

…or is it go for the food and stay for the beer? It’s just a win-win here, everything is just really good. It’s located in the newer part of the Claremont Village, behind the Laemmle theatre and it’s a bit small inside but there is outdoor seating which is quite nice when the weather is tolerable.

Even if you have to stare down someone for a seat, it’s worth the wait! The food is SO GOOD. All of the burgers are 6 oz dry aged, cooked to medium rare unless you state otherwise and served on a yummy brioche bun that adds a slightly sweet complement to the wonderful flavors you’ll experience from each of the different burgers. The Back Abbey Burger, with its “aged Gouda, mustard aioli, caramelized onion, Niman Ranch bacon, and micro greens” is a favorite of my friends and it appears to be the favorite of the pub goers here as well. And you have to order the Pommes Frites, which are twice fried potato fries and the best I’ve had. The half order is PLENTY for two people and the full order is a good size for parties of three or four. They come with three dipping sauces: horseradish chive sauce, roumelade and ketchup. The roumelade has a lovely, and little known, accent of chervil and it is the best of the three… the horseradish sauce is pretty mild but good and most people won’t waste these fries in the ketchup.

Their beer list is extensive, mostly Belgian, many of which are on tap. My fiance’s favorites have been the Triple Karmelite, Blanche de Bruxelles, and the Chimays. Not being a beer drinker much myself, I really liked the St. Louis Fremboise, it’s a raspberry beer and it really tastes like raspberry! It pours a pinkish/magenta (pretty!) and it’s on tap! I also love that all the beers come in their own brand name glasses, which are all different shapes and sizes and all have their unique brand logo (so you’ll never forget what you’re drinking!!). They also offer French, British, Dutch, German and Canadian selections.

It’s hard to get a table during peak hours, so get there early or plan to wait. The service can be slow, but it’s always friendly and the chef(s) are always inventive and creative— make sure to check out the “Seasonal Burger” and the “Daily Soup”, I’ve tried both and they’ve not disappointed.

Grilled Vegetable Burger

Grilled portabello mushroom, zucchini, red bell peppers and eggplant layered with feta cheese and herbed verde, served on a brioche bun….do I need to say more? I’d give up meat for this. I’ve had all of their burgers, because I do eat meat but I will take this burger over any of them any day, it’s that good.


Aladdin's Tea Room

 838 Tri-city Center
Redlands, CA

local tea klatch

I visit A LOT of tea rooms in the Inland Empire because I run a Tea Society through Meetup. So we attend one to two Teas a month. I’m giving Aladdin’s a generous four stars, because I would really like to give them a B- or C+.

The gentleman that helps run this place couldn’t be nicer, he gets an A+ for genuine, courteous service but there is another lady there, and I didn’t coin her nickname, she is KNOWN amongst fellow tea goers around here as the “Tea Nazi”. I’m sure she’s lovable, but she is a bit abrasive. Let’s put it this way, she was like a strict head mistress in every sense! I even sat up a little straighter in my chair during my lunch!

The food was great and we loved the little touches like the little cheddar heart floating in my soup (cute!!) and the lemon bars were delectable, truly!! We ordered the full Royal Tea which requires a reservation but it was really worth it.

The thing about Aladdin’s is that it’s really lacking in ambience. First it’s located in a tired looking strip mall in Redlands, which in itself isn’t bad but then you get inside and it’s like there was a war between shabby chic and country kitch…and it looks like shabby kitch was the result. It could really use a decision maker in the decor department. Also, call me a snob, but the last thing (well, close to the last thing!) I want to hear when I’m sipping my tea and nibbling a scone is twangy country music!! It really killed the mood for me in a serious way.

All in all, these are things that can be easily over looked by most and I think the value and quality of the overall Tea will earn a repeat visit.

Royal High Tea

I would give them 5 stars if I hadn’t been comparing them to several other tea rooms such as Barbara’s in Rancho Cucamonga or Two a Tea in Glendora. Having said that, it was pretty good and an excellent value. You get a small quiche, soup, tea sandwiches, a scone, and mini desserts. Plus your own fresh pot of tea. As I stated above, the soup and the lemon bars were the highlights, but it was all pretty tasty. Treat yourself if you’re in the area.


Bright Star Vegan Thai

 9819 Foothill Blvd
Rancho Cucamonga, CA

"...tastes like chicken."

Great food at a great price! Finally a place close to home to have a vegan meal that actually tastes REALLY GOOD.

When it comes to Thai I like to test the water with the usuals- “chicken” Pad Thai and “chicken” red curry. We ordered one of each and really liked them both, although I must say I went back later in the week for the lunch serving of the Pad Thai (I ordered it spicy) because it was that good.

Although I’m not vegan or vegetarian, we try to eat this way about 80% of the time and finding a good local vegan or vegetarian place can be a chore. It’s a little tucked away but the service was very friendly and the food value (taste and portion) is excellent.

"Chicken" Pad Thai

What a great meal. The dinner portion comes with a side salad, brown rice (with peas and carrots), a spring roll, miso soup, and the Pad Thai—which was great. There were also kids in there eating “chicken” burgers and fries and some kids were eating pancakes…so it’s really a place for everyone and a nice change of pace from meals made with so much animal product.


Tea Exchange

 28200 State Highway 189
Lake Arrowhead, CA

coffee bean and tea grief

I went to this Tea shop with great expectations, I was really hoping, based on their wonderful website, to like it more. Unfortunately, it is not worth a second visit.

The service is what ruined it for me. I was waiting in line to order tea and a crepe when I observed the girl at the cash register giving the older (white hair older) gentlemen in front of me an attitude for apparently not retrieving his order fast enough. After he leaves she tells me, “First he asks what’s taking it so long then he’s not even here when it’s ready!” Ahem, I am a customer too, and from what I witnessed, I’m on his side! She’ll get no empathy from me. However, I was VERY nice to her because I was afraid she would talk badly of me to the next customer as well.

So my order is called, and keep in mind this place is tiny, not a lot of space to move around quickly past people in line, I notice that she attempted to bring over my order to the end of the counter, realized I was taking too long to move toward her and decides to drop my order off at the other end of the counter with out so much as eye contact. So I have to maneuver my way through the cramped space to get my crepe just before another customer almost took it because he assumed it was his since she just plopped the plate down right in front of him and walked away. So I’m starting to see why the other gentleman was so frustrated. The service just sucked.

The other woman behind the counter was not much better. I was trying to make several decisions regarding loose leaf teas for Mother’s Day gifts and I sensed her growing impatience with every question I asked. I decided to cut my order in half and just purchase the tea that was in my hand at that moment, I felt really rushed.

The food was average, nothing to return for… It was sort of like a REALLY TINY Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, nothing worth that drive. So overall the visit was a “D” (a notch above an F because my tea was good).

As for the tea I did buy, it was excellent! Pricey but a real treat if you’re looking to indulge in a wonderful loose leaf blend. But I’d avoid the trip and the attitude and just order online!!!

Crêpes and Tea

I split a sundried tomato crêpe with my friend. It was OK, nothing special, probably just 3 stars really. It needed something I couldn’t put my finger on…it was sort of standard. The tea I had was good and our dessert probably earned the four stars (Banana’s Foster Crêpe) here. I love desserts and I love crêpes so it was hard to mess up with all the caramel cream filling and whipped cream—but I still would not go back, not for just a crêpe, I don’t care how much caramel was in it!!!


Two a Tea

 185 N Vermont Ave
Glendora, CA

my cup overfloweth

This is one of my favorite Tea Houses. I’ve never been disappointed with my visits here and I’m so glad my group felt the same. We shared a variety of teas in our individual pots and were able to try several varieties, so good that some of us chose to buy some of the wonderful loose leaf blends at the end (I bought the Almond Cream and the Green Earl Grey Bravo, there are many to choose from)!

The food was great, the roasted corn soup was one of the best I’ve had and the fresh baked scones with lemon curd and cream were wonderful! Everything is made there fresh which is a big deal to me when it comes to the smaller Tea houses. The service was attentive and courteous; they made us feel very welcome the entire time. Definitely worth the price and a repeat visit! All attendees rated Two a Tea with five out of five stars!

I do hope they get their website up and running again soon as it is a nice way to acquaint other members of our group of the variety (and the occasional special events) this wonderful tea house offers!

The Royal High Tea

This is the full tea menu. This comes with your own pot of tea (my favorites were the Almond Cream and Earl Grey) that you can change for other flavors as you finish (nice!!!). A fresh baked scone which was wonderful and since the chef changes her menu all the time you get something different each time— this last time I got a praline scone that was wonderful with their cream and lemon curd.

The soup was a roasted corn soup that was one of the best I’ve ever had and I think that’s because the chef actually went to culinary school and likes to experiment with great success. The next course was a garden salad of mixed greens in a wonderful dressing, followed by a small but delicious raspberry sorbet to “cleanse the palate”.

The assorted tea sandwiches and savories included a mini quiche, cucumber dill on white, ham and swiss pinwheel, waldorf chicken salad on a croissant, turkey with cranberry fig marmalade on squaw and egg salad with tarragon and red onion on white.

The finale was a choice of dessert made fresh that day—which ranged from fruit cobblers to cake. All were delicious!

It really makes paying for the ‘tea experience’ when you have good service and a trained chef/owner—we’ll definitely be back!!

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