I’ve been a fan of California Pizza Kitchen ever since they came to St. Louis years ago – we even went there for Mother’s Day this year! When I was contacted by CPK about their “Next Chapter”, I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to hear more. The restaurant will have a vastly expanded menu and he restaurant transformed with a fresh, contemporary design.
The Next Chapter makeover is taking place at 80 CPK locations nationwide this year. In fact, the St. Louis Galleria California Pizza Kitchen is among the first in the country to unveil a new look and new menu. (The other four St. Louis locations get the Next Chapter in 2016.) I was excited to head there with a few girlfriends for a “Girl’s Night Out”! A few had been to CPK before but a few hadn’t so I was eager to see their impressions.
When you walk in, you’re going to notice that the whole vibe has changed. Sustainable materials are a guiding factor in the Next Chapter design and the warm rustic décor features many elements like oak floors, tabletops and chairs from reclaimed wood and stone countertops. Fabrics used for seating are from recycled materials and the restaurant features a natural herb garden. Artwork on the walls features local landmarks for a neighborhood feel – the Galleria location featured pictures of The Arch and Busch Stadium. Additionally, the open floor plan has flexible seating with dining options in both the restaurant and bar. You can get a closer look at https://www.cpk.com/virtualtour
The centerpiece of Galleria CPK is the open kitchen, where food is prepared from scratch and guests can watch, as artisan pizzas are hand-tossed three feet up in the air, then baked in our hearth-baked oven. I loved hearing how many of the ingredients were made in the kitchen just that morning.
Eats and Drinks
When we sat down, he manager Billie explained to us that all new visitors to California Pizza Kitchen will have a yellow napkin placed on their able so their waiter and other staff will know they are new to the CPK. They will also get to sample their delicious White Corn Guacamole which will have you ordering a bigger portion!
You’ll also get a portion of their warm and crusty french bread with olive oil….so good!
Another food item we started out the meal with were the Avocado Club Egg Rolls and OMG my taste buds are singing!!! I would go there JUST for these and our waitress told us they have a regular hat does just that. These egg rolls are filled with avocado, chicken, tomato, Monterrey Jack and Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon. It’s served with housemade ranchito sauce and herb ranch. And it’s delicious.
CPK has a great drink menu and I was interested to see their Wine Adventure Guarantee. Basically, try a new wine and if it doesn’t thrill you, CPK will replace it with your favorite. It’s the same as their Menu Adventure Guarantee – if a guest tries a new dish and is not satisfied, it will be replaced with his or her favorite item from the CPK menu. I really love that option and how they stand behind their menu.
I decided to order the Seasonal Harvest Sangria, a mix of Bacardi Superior Rum, St. Germain Elderflower and Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay with muddled grapes, basil and fresh agave sour. I’m a huge fan of Sangria and I have to say that this didn’t disappoint!
Now, there were 5 people in our party that night so we each go something different to try so you could get a good look at the variety of items that CPK offers. All in the name of research, friends!
For me, I knew I wanted the Fire-Grilled Ribeye which is new to the California Pizza Kitchen menu. You may be thinking….ribeye at a pizza place? But oh, yes does it work! It’s a a 12-oz. 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 arugula salad.
It was….delicious. It was a little too much greens for me, but only because I was consumed with the meat and potatoes!
Next up, my friend ordered a pizza – half of their famous BBQ chicken and half pepperoni. I love that CPK gives you the option of ordering half and half.
Another pizza that was ordered was the California Club Pizza! It features Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon, roasted chicken and mozzarella then topped with avocado, wild arugula, fresh torn basil and Romaine tossed in lemon-pepper mayo! WOW! Definitely an interesting combo. My friend liked it a lot but wishes she had gone with something more traditional.
Next up was a seasonal item – a Maine Lobster Flatbread featuring Maine lobster salad, fresh herbs, arugula and shaved onions on a Parmesan flatbread. YUM! I had a hard time choosing between this and the rib eye.
My next friend also got another seasonal item on the CPK Menu – the Roasted Garlic Chicken and Seasonal Veggies. As soon as it hit the table, I was overwhelmed with the delicious smell of this dish. My friend said it did not disappoint! The Crispy skinned chicken breast was covered in lemon-garlic sauce and served with hearth-roasted fingerling potatoes, heirloom carrots, cauliflower and Mediterranean herbs.
Now onto the desserts which deserve their very own section. Both Billie and our waitress recommended that we try their secret dessert. Well, it’s their famous butter cake but then it’s topped with Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream, drizzled with caramel sauce and pieces of Nueske’s bacon. It is to DIE for. When I took a bite, it was like a thousand tiny explosions of flavor in my mouth. This is NOT on the menu, so you’ll have to ask for the Salted Caramel Butter Bacon Cake.
Next up was the Key Lime Pie. I enjoy Key Lime Pie but I’m not a fanatic. I think if you’re a lover of all things Key Lime, this is the dessert for you!
The next dessert we tried is new to the CPK menu – it’s simply called S’mores. But there’s nothing simple about it. It’s Kettle-cooked Belgian chocolate pudding, dark chocolate chunks, double graham cracker and toasted marshmallows.
Last, but certainly not least is the Belgian Chocolate Souffle Cake. It’s a warm chocolate cake served with triple-thick hot fudge and vanilla bean sauce.
That was it for our delicious meal! I am so incredibly impressed with the Next Chapter design for California Pizza Kitchen. The atmosphere, drinks and menu make it perfect for a girl’s night out, a date night or even a family dinner. We absolutely loved our service and experience.
“Our new environment has been welcoming Galleria patrons with a relaxed, upscale feel and many natural elements,” said General Manager Billie Kilts. “Our new menu offers fresh seasonal dishes, locally sourced ingredients and globally inspired flavors to complete the ‘Next Chapter’ feel of the restaurant.”
“We are upping our game with this transformation, which we call The Next Chapter,” said G. J. Hart, CEO of California Pizza Kitchen. “We’ve taken the best of our history and soul, and innovated to make it current for today’s sophisticated guest. The new look, menu and experience create a space to relax and unwind in a welcoming neighborhood environment.”
If you’re in St. Louis, you’ll want to visit the Galleria CPK, as it was one of the first locations to roll out the Next Chapter. The additional four locations in the St. Louis area will complete their Next Chapter renovation by the end of 2016.
I’m excited to check out CPKids! CPK offers a special birthday program that allows kids to play chef and make their own pizza from the freshest ingredients. The birthday party includes VIP-style behind-the-counter restaurant tour, a meal and dessert from the award-winning CPKids menu, souvenirs and a certificate for a free CPKids Meal for each child’s next visit. This is such a unique birthday experience and I’m sure my pizza-loving son would love this.
Enter the Rafflecopter form below to win a $25 Callifornia Pizza Kitchen gift card!
Disclosure: California Pizza Kitchen hosted us for the night and provided us dinner. All thoughts and opinions are my own.