Monday, August 3, 2015

Lunch at California Pizza Kitchen (New Woodlands Location)

Lewis and I have been long time fans of California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) ever since we tasted the Tostada Pizza at the then-new Town Center location in Jacksonville, FL so when I was invited to try their renovated menu at the new Woodlands location, I was more than happy to oblige!

This particular location was apart of the newly established Hughes Landing which houses a wide variety of businesses, restaurants, and shops a plenty! Right when we walked in the door we noticed the updated and customized decor - I love it when restaurants try to reflect the surrounding area by incorporating local photography and materials, it definitely created a personalized and enjoyable atmosphere. This particular location contained a full service bar as well as a scenic outdoor patio facing the water.

You can check out their menu as well as other information about this and other locations on their website HERE

One new thing we noted (and greatly appreciated) is that they now offer a sourdough bread basket with olive herb dip, we also decided on the hummus and pita appetizer which was perfectly fine but I should have reconsidered our choice since it was a bit of a carb overload.

I went a little drink crazy and first tried their new seasonal Strawberry Mango Cooler (pictured at right) which was a refreshing blend of strawberries and fresca flavored with mango, guava and ginger. I was taken aback at how delicious this drink was, it was light and refreshing without being too heavy or filling (I honestly could have polished off at least 3 of these babies) and for all you kids under 21, fret not because this is non alcoholic! My second choice was the Appleberry Sangria blended with cranberry, orange, and raspberry puree. It was sweet and fruity with some tart flavor notes from the berries.

Upon request I ordered the Cidar Roasted Halibut served on top of grilled asparagus and a creamy mixture of farro, butternut squash, and baby kale. This was my first time ordering an entree of this caliber from CPK, and let's face it, it's not the typical meal someone would expect from a place that specializes in pizza. As somewhat of a seafood connoisseur my expectations were high and I was not disappointed. The fish was moist, flaky, and flavorful, the farro was creamy and indulgent I had previously only had farro in cold salads and personally really enjoyed this take on it.

Lewis ordered our old favorite - The Tostada which is like a taco, pizza, and salad all in one! It starts with a thin and crispy crust then it's topped with black beans, shredded cheese, lettuce, housemade ranch, and tortilla strips served with fire-roasted salsa on the side (which we always order more of). To accommodate a wide variety of needs CPK also offers a gluten free and multi-grain crusts. I will say that their multi-grain crust is some of the best I have ever had - it's not dense like most are but on the thinner side so you still get that slightly crunchy-crisp texture.

We also got a chance to sit down and talk with the General Manager Josh Kiblinger who was able to give us some insight as to where CPK is headed and what the company is all about. I was pleased to find that CPK plans on incorporating additional high quality and locally sourced seasonal meals (such as the halibut) to reinvent the notion that not only does CPK deliver fresh and flavorful pizzas but they also could be considered for semi-swanky fair as well. They not only applied the local theme to their food but the decor as well, taking into consideration the sustainability and environmental impact by using reclaimed woods and metals.

The Verdict

California Pizza Kitchen is not only breaking the pizza mold but also every stereotype and generalization of what a typical chain restaurant is. By focusing more on locally sourced ingredients to elevate their menu, you'll find a plethora of menu pairings, geared to fit any palette.

My faves;
-Fresh Strawberry Mango Cooler
-Hearth Roasted Halibut
-Tostada Pizza (on multi-grain crust)
-The Original BBQ Chicken

Disclosure - Our meals were compensated by California Pizza Kitchen, all opinions are my own.

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