California Pizza Kitchen, self-proclaimed inventor of the barbecue chicken pizza, has freshened their menu and their look in all of their stores, including the location at Bridgeport Marketplace. A short time ago, I was invited by CPK to be their guest (disclosure: our meal and drinks were provided at no cost to us) to try some of their new menu items, including some new cocktails at the bar, and meet with the store manager Jered to hear about the new ideas. My wife and made an afternoon of it and headed over for a late lunch.
Inside the restaurant, the decor has been updated. At the entry is a hydroponic herb garden at the host stand, highlighting their efforts to use fresh local ingredients in their food. The ceilings have had new treatments hung from them featuring reclaimed hardwood, and their booth cushions are made of recycled products. The new feel is a bit more intimate than previously, but the kitchen and bar remains wide open and airy.
On to the drinks. While I waited for my wife I sipped on an “Executive Decision.” This cocktail is pretty much a margarita featuring Casamigos tequila, agave juice, fresh squeezed lime and agave sour mixes, but given a unique flavor with muddled mint.
At Jered’s recommendation I moved on to the California Roots which is definitely unique. Vodka mixed with sour, mint and avocado. Yes, avocado. You might think it odd, but it was surprisingly well balanced. Rimmed with fennel salt, it’s a fun cocktail that is creamy but light and refreshing. It really highlights what CPK is doing with their menu… focusing on fresh ingredients and California style. Nothing says California like avocados.
To start things off we tried some of the new flat breads we had a lobster roll flatbread that was a little heavy on the mayo and didn’t let the lobster shine through as much, and we had a smoked Gruyère and ham flatbread which was a very tasty offering. Great little tasters to share before the meal, if you’re opting for something other than pizza.
On to the main courses. As I mentioned, they’re going fresh, seasonal menus. We opted to try things off that menu (having been no stranger to CPK, I’m well familiar with their pizzas). I went with a cedar plank hearth roasted halibut. Served over a bed of farrow with butternut squash and asparagus, it was perfectly cooked, apparently in the same open pizza oven. The farro made for a nice starch instead of the all too typical rice or potatoes. I’d never had farro, and this was a great introduction.
My wife took one of the seasonal salads. The new California Fields Salad which featured watermelon, greens , strawberries and normally pistachio. She opted to get it with a chicken breast and substitute walnuts for pistachios.
Wrapping it up with dessert, CPK has really gotten creative. We had an incredible s’mores dessert with graham cracker crumbs, chocolate pudding and toasted marshmallow on top. This thing was PERFECT, and disappeared shortly after taking the photo.
I certainly appreciate the efforts to freshen things up at CPK. Without turning their back on the past heritage of the brand, they’ve gone about setting out some new initiatives which are tasty and enjoyable. If you haven’t gone for anything other than the pizza, you might consider trying some of the new items on the menu. And for an evening on the patio in the middle of Valencia, it makes a good option.
California Pizza Kitchen at Bridgeport Marketplace
24061 Newhall Ranch Road
Valencia, CA 91354