CPK was purchased a few years ago by private equity firm Golden Gate Capital, and they've transitioned the place from cafeteria-like decor to something more stylish. I hesitate to call it upscale; the place looks like a pottery barn store.
CPK Fort Lauderdale Interior
It's very bright. Too Bright. Iced Tea came out with plenty of lemon. No Truvia though; I figured they might have it given the new vibe.
CPK Iced Tea
Looking around, there's a bar in the back that I never noticed before, and they have some big TVs. Though I can't imaging coming here to watch a game. Or to have a drink.
CPK Fort Lauderdale Interior
Lunch comes with bread with olive oil dip. The bread has too much crust and not enough bread.
cpk Olive Oil Dip and Bread
They started giving bread with EVOO dip after the transition; notable is the change in the amount of spices provide from my previous visit. Same bad bread.
The music here creates a strange atmosphere that makes me feel like I'm not the kind of person that they're going for. Yuna, Mayer Hawthorne, HAIM and "The World is a Beat". A lot of male couples in the place.
The salad came out in about 10 minutes.
CPK Cobb Salad
They have 2 sizes; the "half" for $10.95 and the full-size for $14.95. This is the large; I got it mainly because it was likely that they "half" wasn't worth the price. I could always take some home.
I asked for extra dressing as they always under dress a Cobb; from a visual standpoint it was one of the best I've gotten; but the dressing wasn't very good. It wasn't blue-cheesy enough on it's own; once I ran out of crumbles it wasn't very good on it's own. Also, the bacon wasn't crisp; what is wrong with cooks down here? Bacon needs to be crisp; nobody wants to gnaw on bacon like it's beef jerky or something.
I think that they're trying hard to be an upscale experience, but it doesn't feel right to me; maybe it's because they just sort of dressed up the old place. The food is decent, and the prices are fair. That said, I don't think I'll be back to this location.
The plan to check out the new Italio was aborted when I decided that I simply couldn't get excited about a bucket of salad; and I didn't really want a bucket of spaghetti and meatballs. I noticed that CPK had remodeled their exterior. I'd tried some interesting new menu items the last time in; I figured maybe I'd try something else.
When I walked in, I was totally surprised; they've remodeled the entire interior. The "counter" used to be like a bad lunch counter at a NYC subway; this was a bit better.
CPK Kitchen and Counter Remodeled
Looking around though; the seating is kind of strange. I moved 3 times; of course unlike other people, I have the goal of a good vantage point to get some photos.
The change is good; instead of feeling like you're eating in a cafeteria; it's now more like you're eating in a Pottery Barn store. And I mean that literally. They've gone to natural wood; but it's better than they've done at DBA across the street where you feel like you're eating off of a plywood bench. The layout is kind of broken up; they have a booth here and there stuffed into a nook, but it's largely still just a big, open room.
I ordered an iced tea as always; they still use lemon wedges here. While I was looking at the menu my server offered some bread. Ok, that's something new. The last thing I expected at CPK was crusty bread with olive oil dip.
CPK Iced Tea and Bread
I ordered the pasta jambalaya because I felt like something spicy; the chile relleno I had on my last visit wasn't bad. I never order "pasta" jambalaya, because frankly it's wrong; jambalaya is a rice dish and restaurants do it with pasta because it's easier to manage than rice. But I figured I'd just eat the stuff off of it and leave most of the pasta. At $16 it was no less expensive than a "good" restaurant, but that's the way it goes these days.
The music is fairly loud ranging from Adele to Eliza Doolittle; nothing too offensive. I don't particularly care for the one big room thing; there's a constant chatter of employees talking across the room, and there's little privacy here.
I had mixed feelings when they put the food in front of me; the idea of pasta jambalaya irks me a bit.
CPK Jambalaya Pasta
Initially, I had trouble eating this; the "stuff" doesn't stick to the slippery pasta, and the long strands made it difficult to get the proper proportions. I ended up cutting the pasta into fork sized bits.
Meanwhile, I was enjoying the spicy fare. Blackened chicken, real andouille sausage, lots of shrimp and tasso ham. An astonishingly good rendition considering it's served at a large chain restaurant. Spicier than most chefs in this town will serve you; it actually made me cry. >
CPK Jambalaya Close
The plan to just eat the stuff was abandoned as getting to all of the bits of ham and vegetables required scooping up a lot of pasta.
A second iced tea came out, also with extra lemon. It's rare that a server pays enough attention to realize that if you want extra lemon in the first tea, that you also want it in the refill. Nicely done.
I came into CPK as a backup plan; I never anticipated the crying. CPK is trying to go upscale, and unlike other chains, they're actually trying to improve their food, rather than figuring out ways to nickel and dime their customers. It's no longer a cheap chain and not as kid-friendly as it was before; but I've had some pretty good stuff here and I think I may try something else shortly.
don't usually consider CPK when I'm thinking about lunch, but for some reason it was on my radar today. I've been on this slow carb thing lately, and I saw a couple of new items on their menu that seemed interesting. It has been over 2 years since my last review, so I thought I'd try them again.
This place is what I'd describe as modern cafeteria. They have a big open kitchen. but there's something that seems cheap about the furniture. The tables aren't quite the right height in the booths.
California Pizza Kitchen Fort Lauderdale Interior
I got lucky this time; I got the good server. The servers at the tables near me both had annoying demeanors. My server was quite pleasant. I ordered an iced tea, a petite wedge salad and the Chile Relleno. I was curious about the "petite" part, give the mini salad I'd gotten at YOLO recently, and the 1/2 salad at Big Bear that was quite large.
CPK Petite Wedge
This was a decent size; not bad for $4.50. There wasn't a lot of bacon and they were a bit chincy with the dressing, which was excellent. The lettuce had a couple of brown spots, but overall the salad was good.
They waited until I was done with the salad to bring out the Chile Relleno.>
CPK Chile Relleno
This is not an authentic Chile Relleno which are stuffed with cheese and battered, but this is actually a "healthier" version, as much as I hate to use that term. The filling is chicken, eggplant, corn/bean salsa and there's an avocado drizzle; 380 calories they say. It was actually quite good; a little spicy with nice flavors.
My complaint about this is that I think that $10.50 is too much for this, particular at a place like CPK. This isn't really enough food to qualify as an entree; if you're going to compare it to the Chiles Rellenos at La Bamba which is $12.50; you get twice as much food for $2 more. This is a price I'd expect to pay for this as an appetizer on Las Olas, but not here.
That being said, I liked everything I had here today.
I hadn't been to a CPK in many years; they opened one in the Walt Whitman Mall in the 90's but I never really thought about it as a pizza place. On Long Island you can get real pizza; I think we went once for lunch and I had a salad. I decided I'd see what they had.
CPK is sort of like a cafeteria with service. Very Diner-like.
California Pizza Kitchen Fort Lauderdale Interior
Ice tea was delivered with extra lemon. They have Splenda here.
California Pizza Kitchen Iced Tea
I ordered the asparagus and Spinach Spaghettini, which was served in about 10 minutes.
CPK Spinach Asparagus Pasta
Kind of a mess of decent stuff. It didn't have a lot of taste; some garlic would have been nice. It's a lot of food.
There you have it. California Pizza Kitchen. Not just pizza.