California Pizza Kitchen has a lot of things going for it: it’s family-friendly, serves one of America’s favorite entrees (pizza), is creative, and (at least for our family) is one of Amazing Diner’s favorite restaurants. It has been since the first time he tried it when he was just a toddler. For his birthday, he would consistently choose CPK or a Japanese steakhouse, and we’ve pretty consistently liked it over the years.
On this visit, we were seated quickly and served promptly. Mr. Diner & I both ordered Italian Sodas (Strawberry & Raspberry, respectively for $3 each). We both love these creamy, bubbly drinks and love to make them at home, too. They were served with the cream on the side; I know some don’t like to add the cream, but to me it’s a must.
However, I wasn’t really in the mood for pizza, pasta, or salad, which are the mainstays of the menu. I love their creative pizzas and have a thing for their chopped salads, too. I felt like an appetizer with a cup of soup that night and made the mistake of letting the kids choose the appetizer (why? I have no idea). They have been on a dumpling kick lately, so they chose the Sesame Ginger Chicken Dumplings ($7.35). They came out quickly, but were on the soggy side…extremely limp. The flavor was okay, but the texture was just too soft and slippery.
I ordered the seasonal soup choice: Artichoke & Broccoli ($4). I love Broccoli soup and thought the combination of artichoke and broccoli blended with their trio of cheeses and topped with croutons sounded wonderful. It should have been, but was not the thick, creamy, and flavorful soup I expected. It was thin…almost a bit watery and lacked much flavor at all. A big disappointment, as it should not have been difficult to make this soup a winner.
Mr. Diner, Amazing Diner, & Little Diner all had Pepperoni Pizza ($11.75). They love to order this standard when they go to California Pizza Kitchen. I just don’t understand it when there are so many interesting combinations to choose from, but they love it.
The crust at CPK is a decent crust…not greasy and not too chewy or dense. You can also select the Honey-Wheat with Whole Grain crust on any of their pizzas. I’ve had it, and it’s good…especially on what I call the “sandwich pizzas”: the ones like the BLT or California Club.
Sweet Diner also ordered her favorite: the Kids CPK Salad ($5.50), which is romaine tossed with dressing (her choice is always Ranch) and topped with Goldfish crackers. She loves it. I love that almost all their salads are tossed with dressing. Yes, it doesn’t give you the ability to control the amount of dressing, but it does ensure that your dressing is evenly distributed…love it! And, you can ask for the dressing on the side if you wish.
Overall, we love CPK. Just learned from this visit not to order the dumplings or the Artichoke-Broccoli soup.
Entrée Price: $$
Average Fork Rating: 3.8
Mr. Diner: 4
Mrs. Diner: 2 (for this visit)
Amazing Diner: 5
Sweet Diner: 4
Little Diner: 4