It's hard to believe that California Pizza Kitchen
(CPK) has been around for 30 years now with 276 restaurants in 11 countries.
That in itself is testament to their ability to adjust to the times while maintaining their original appeal and uniqueness. When I moved to the area 16 years ago, CPK embodied California culture and it's unique cuisine. I was fortunate enough to work down the street from the Solana Beach location and it was always our go to spot with a larger group as there was always something for everyone on the expansive menu.
Since then, the pizza category has exploded and
there is no shortage of artisanal or pseudo artisanal pizza joints around.
Somehow CPK has managed to stay relevant and even thrive with all the new competition. As part of that evolution CPK has unveiled the company's Recipe for
Reimagination at its Solana Beach, Calif. location. The restaurant has undergone a complete transformation, from the design and décor to the menu, all of which simultaneously celebrate the classic elements of California Pizza Kitchen alongside an inspired vision for the future. Given it's location in the heart of Southern California surf culture, The Solana Beach location was chosen to be among the first in the country to roll out the new design and menu items, with other locations to follow.
Part of this new look and feel includes a transformed interior uses unfinished reclaimed wood throughout, with warm colors that offer a casual-but-refined ambience. I can't say this is anything new in the restaurant space, but it did look great. The remodel incorporates flexible seating with fewer booths and more tables to accommodate a variety of diners and groups. New dishes, glassware and utensils further complement the upscale-yet-relaxed aesthetic. California's environmental roots are evident in the sustainable materials utilized throughout. They even added a living herb wall inside the restaurant reflect a commitment to using fresh ingredients.
It was interesting to see that the new menu included ribeye and halibut entrees and seasonal items such as a Sunny Side Up Bacon + Potato Pizza with a couple of eggs on top, Roasted Garlic Chicken, and unique hand-crafted California-themed cocktails. I was with a couple of friends so we decided to mix it up a bit with a combination of old standbys and a few of the newer items.
We started by splitting the large Caesar salad three ways, which was a perfect portion for each of us. Of course we had to try a couple of pizzas so we went with the Sunny Side Up Bacon + Potato with shaved fingerling potatoes, applewood smoked bacon, caramelized leeks, Parmesan, mozzarella topped with two sunny-side up eggs. I've been a big fan of eggs on pizza for a long time and CPK did not disappoint. It will be interesting to see how this one flies with the masses though. Our second pizza was their famous BBQ chicken pie and it was as good as I remembered it. The cedar plank hearth-roasted, wild caught Alaskan halibut with butternut squash farro and grilled asparagus was cooked perfectly and a very hearty portion. They are also offering a 12-oz. USDA choice fire-grilled ribeye with housemade Pinot Noir sea salt and topped with creamy bleu cheese butter and served with roasted fingerling potatoes and lemon-garlic arugula salad. Yes, that's Pinot Noir sea salt, a new one to me as well. They suggest wine pairings with each dish, which is a nice touch.
We finished things off with a seasonally inspired pumpkin cheesecake made with a ginger crumb praline crust, fresh whipped cream and a drizzle of praline sauce. That was devoured quickly.
The new beverage menu at CPK features a fun selection of hand-crafted cocktails made with the freshest ingredients and unique flavor combinations. We loved the California Roots made with Svedka Vodka, fresh avocado, mint and Agave Sour with a fennel salt rim. There are plenty more unique cocktail combinations
worth checking out as well.
So yes, CPK has evolved and it still has a large enough menu to satisfy just about everyone in large group including the foodies looking for trendier options. CPK Solana Beach is located at 437 S. Highway 101, Solana Beach. Reach them at 858.793.0999 or www.cpk.com.