The Inland Empire just got interesting with Ra Pour

Lobster "Mac and Cheese" at Ra Pour

Lobster "Mac and Cheese" at Ra Pour

When I think of restaurants in the Inland Empire, chains come to mind. But Ra Pour, a high-end restaurant and bar in Rancho Cucamonga’s Victoria Gardens retail complex, has changed the way I think about dining in the I.E. (there are still a lot of chain restaurants, though).

Ra Pour, the jewel in restaurateur Karim Webb’s crown, is helmed by Executive Chef Greg Stillman, a French Laundry and Patina Restaurant Group alumnus, so right off you know you’re getting a quality meal. However, the combination of a high-end eatery with a club-like after-hours feel, including live music that makes conversation tough, is a bit strange. But given the area’s other options, Ra Pour is probably one of your best bets.

I was recently invited to try out dinner and brunch here, and I was mostly pleasantly surprised. Drinks were fine, and food was better — even excellent at times. Dinner standouts included the Crispy Pork Belly, served with greengage plums, poached rhubarb and crushed marcona almonds, which was cooked perfectly and had a subtle sweetness. The Lobster “Mac and Cheese,” with butter-poached Maine lobster, mascarpone-enriched orzo and a parmesan crisp, is an elegant take on the traditional dish. Pizzas are good, and the tempura mushrooms are a nice twist on the usual fried appetizer.

Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and Waffles

As for brunch, the Chicken and Waffles with fried chicken tenders, a Tabasco reduction, maple syrup and candied jalapeno atop a malted waffle, is to die for. It’s a must, and you can get it at dinner, too, so get it. The Yogurt Parfait with blueberry compote, fresh mixed berries, yogurt and granola isn’t over-the-top sweet, which makes it a nice light breakfast option. The Duck Confit Hash with beets, potatoes, bacon, herbs and poached eggs topped with hollandaise sauce (the sauce wasn’t listed on the menu, by the way) was really heavy, so you might want to split that dish. There’s also live jazz music at brunch, if you like that kind of thing.

See more photos from Ra Pour:

Further reading:

Ra Pour: Elevating Rancho Cucamonga by Gourmet Pigs

Note: These meals were hosted.

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Maya Meinert

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05 2012

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