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Dining Guide for Families in Orange County

A Whole new California Pizza Kitchen

We dined as a guest of CPK

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I grew up having family dinners at California Pizza Kitchen (CPK), and now our family enjoys dining at the popular OC restaurant at least once a month. We have watched CPK evolve over the years, and recently had dinner at one of their newly redesigned restaurants with a whole new look, feel, and menu. While the new CPK still has our favorite items on their menu, it is the new menu additions that make it feel like a whole new restaurant.

The restaurant chain is slowly redesigning their locations to move away from the black and bright yellow decor to a more California “Beach” style. Throughout the restaurant is reclaimed wood, cool colors, and fun California photos. It is still a comfortable dining atmosphere for children but has a more sophisticated feel.

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The menu..the menu! I cannot express enough how much I love the new CPK menu. While I was secretly hoping they would bring back my favorite Santa Fe Chicken Pizza, they did even better with these tasty new dishes. The transformation began as CPK replaced their traditional white bread slices and butter with baguette and olive oil. It has been a healthier change for families to begin their meal, and well accepted by children.

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My favorite new starter is the Maine Lobster flatbread. The mouth-watering dish is made with fresh Maine Lobster, mayo, herbs, arugula and shaved red onions on a Parmesan flatbread. The lobster was fresh, and the Parmesan flatbread complemented the seafood perfectly. I savored every bite and was left craving a return to CPK for more.

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The kids fell head over heels in love with the smoked ham and swiss flatbread. The flatbread is made with Emmental and goat cheese with caramelized onions and smashed garlic croutons. The dish had a flavor profile that all children (even the picky eaters) will love.

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The biggest surprise came when they brought to our table a fire-grilled rib eye steak. The sophisticated new menu addition was juicy and boasted bold flavors. The dish features a 12oz. USDA choice rib eye steak that is grilled with a housemade Pinot Noir sea salt and topped with creamy bleu cheese butter. It came with a beautiful presentation and served on a bed of lemon-garlic arugula paired with fingerling potatoes. The steak was cooked to the perfect temperature and will satisfy every steak lovers cravings.

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While I have never been a fan of chicken dishes, I was surprised that I really enjoyed the roasted garlic chicken and seasonal vegetables. The chicken came on top of a bed of heirloom carrots and cauliflower. The dish featured Mediterranean herbs that are paired nicely with the chicken and vegetables.

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Finally, we ended our dinner by enjoying the hearth-roasted halibut. The wild caught halibut from the North Pacific is roasted on a cedar plank and served with grilled asparagus, butternut squash farro, and baby kale. It is the butternut squash farro that tantalized my taste buds and made this a dish that I will enjoy again during future visits to CPK.

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Our visit wouldn’t be complete without have dessert. Just in time for Summer they have added an all-new s’mores dessert to the menu. The sweet dessert features Kettle-cooked Belgian chocolate pudding, dark chocolate chunks, double graham cracker and toasted marshmallows. Our kids practically licked the bowl to make sure they didn’t leave any crumbs behind.

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While our kids enjoyed the sweet s’mores, me and my husband savored the sweet flavors of the strawberry shortcake. The dessert is made with seasonal strawberries, whipped cream, and freshly made shortcake biscuits. It is the perfect way to end dinner at CPK.

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After dinner, our kids were given a special treat of getting to help the chef make pizza. They got to learn how to toss the dough and make pizza just like a CPK chef. It was an unforgettable experience that they would cherish forever.

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Details..details! The new menu and restaurant redesign is currently available at the Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Brea. The next OC locations to make the change will be Anaheim and Brea, so stay tuned for your local CPK to transform into a whole new CPK for our kids generation.

 

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