California Pizza Kitchen – Fashion Valley

Ever since my old DSLR (almost 10 years!) decided it was time to retire, I have been on a hunt for a more compact mirrorless camera I can take around whenever we eat out or when we go on vacation. The Sony a6300 had my eye and I was one Amazon click away from it being at my front door. I took a took a complete 180 and eventually settled on the Olympus OM-D E-M5. California Pizza Kitchen was the first outing I got to use my new toy and I hope to learn my way around the new controls and features soon. One things for sure. Carrying around something half the size is something I’m going to enjoy.

We were invited to California Pizza Kitchen once again to try their updated menu. The last time we visited the Solana Beach location they were just rolling out some of the same items and testing out new dishes. On this occasion we would sample a few of the same things we tried before, in addition to some new items.

Avocado club egg rolls: Hand-wrapped crispy wonton rolls filled with avocado, chicken, tomato, Monterey Jack and Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon. Served with housemade ranchito sauce and herb ranch.

They brought us out some avocado egg rolls to start. At first I wasn’t all too excited about the whole egg roll idea. Luckily, as soon as that first crunch hit, my brain accepted the notion, and all body parts including my stomach approved what was happening. It’s called a wonton but I think it reminded me of a thinner chimichanga or maybe a large taquito. In any case, the crispy wonton skin provided a nice crunch while the chicken and bacon blended together nicely with the juicy tomatoes and avocado. Side ranch dressing story. I remember one of my college roomates from Korea fell in love with ranch when he first discovered it in the states. He put ranch on everything, including plain pasta. You might think that wouldn’t taste very good. I might agree. But in this case I’m just glad they gave us deep bowls of it. I heart ranch. The ranchito sauce was supposed to be spicier, but I couldn’t really make out the extra spice.

Citrus Crush: Absolut Citron, Hangar 1 “Mandarin Blossom” Vodka, Muddled Mint, Fresh Orange & Lemon

Jorgina was in the mood for a cocktail so she opted for the Citrus Crush. And that is a great name for it because the citrus bounces around in your mouth as soon as it reaches your lips. It was refreshing and not too stiff.

Frozen lemonade

I didn’t manage to grab a shot of Michael’s Peach Frozen Lemonade but it did look a whole lot like mine. I went with the regular one. It was a pretty sweet drink. So sweet, one might consider it for dessert. I did finish it however, and luckily, had a cup of water to help wash it down.

Fire-grilled ribeye: 12oz USDA choice ribeye grilled with housemade Pinot Noir sea salt and topped with creamy bleu cheese butter. Served with roasted fingerling potatoes and lemon-garlic wild arugula salad.

For me the meat stole the show. It was cooked a little bit over our requested medium-rare, but didn’t matter all too much as it turned out juicy and full of flavor. The creamy bleu cheese butter added a strong pungent note to each bite while the lemon-garlic arugula balanced the meat with its light and tangy zing.

Hearth-roasted halibut: Wild caught Alaskan Halibut roasted on a cedar plank with grilled asparagus and butternut squash farro & baby kale.

Michael was particularly fond of the halibut. This was a new item none of us have ever tried before. I’m used to salmon on a cedar plank but not halibut. And while I did get a woodsy or earthy vibe, it may have more to do with the butternut squash farro than the actual cedar plank. The meat easily separated into thin flakes and the smell of fresh asparagus and baby kale accentuated the airiness of the dish.

Roasted garlic chicken + seasonal vegetables: Pan-sautéed chicken breast in lemon-garlic sauce with hearth-roasted fingerling potatoes, cauliflower, Mediterranean herbs and seasonal vegetables.

The roasted garlic chicken was my favorite non-pizza dish on our last visit. This time the steak edged out the chicken ever so slightly. And what it came down to was really a few extra pinches of salt. There was about half of the chicken that appeared to be a little over seasoned than the rest. Other than that, the chicken was moist and we had to ask for an extra spoon to scoop the lemon garlic sauce onto our plates.

Fusilli with meat sauce (kid’s menu)

Lil K made sure to share her fusilli pasta with me. It’s probably not possible to enjoy it more than her because she just loves her noodles. In honor of my college buddy I almost tossed some ranch onto it. I came to my senses and decided that wouldn’t be a good thing to encourage the little ones to copy their Uncle, especially with mommy and daddy present. We’ll leave that experimentation for when I babysit for them next time. HA!

Chocolate ice cream with whipped cream, chocolate chips, sprinkles, and a cherry on top

The kids were outside when their sundae came to the table. But there was a huge window they could see through and I really wish we captured that moment. I don’t think people winning the lottery have as big of a reaction as Lil K did when she saw her sundae being put down. It’s like she got a ticket to heaven. Maybe that’s what desserts are though. A little piece of heaven. 🙂

Butter cake: Served warm with housemade whipped cream and vanilla Häagen-Dazs ice cream

And for our finale, we also got the butter cake. An oldie but goodie that’s for sure. If you’ve never had it, I strongly encourage you to try it next time. It’s like the vanilla version of a chocolate molten cake. Having a warm, moist cake along with a scoop of vanilla ice cream has to be a core memory of mine.

There you have it. California Pizza Kitchen without the pizza. I used to go to CPK as a kid and always got pizza. The thought of coming here without getting pizza is like getting boba without boba. But hey, times change and who says you can’t still get your favorite pizza along with these new menu items?

Disclaimer: We were invited to dine here and our meal was comped, but the opinions stated are our own.

California Pizza Kitchen
7007 Friars Road
Suite 901
San Diego, CA 92108

California Pizza Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

About Darren

Fooood! I love it if you can't tell already. I love everything about it. The taste, the smell, the look, the feel, the satisfaction, the gratification, and ultimately: the fun! I've been in San Diego for about 10 years now and it amazes me that there are still places to uncover. Traveling, eating, and taking pictures of food has always been a hobby of mine. So naturally Michael and I thought it made sense to share what we found with all of you. I tend to side with the savory but never shy away from a knock out dessert. If you have a place you think we haven't tried let us know! We're always on the lookout...

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