New Menu @ California Pizza Kitchen

DSC05906Braving the heavy Mumbai rains on a Wednesday evening, I make way to California Pizza Kitchen’s (CPK), Lower Parel outlet for a preview of the new additions proposed to the standard menu.

The debutantes are in three categories, drinks, appetizers and the main course. Some of these are deserving entries to the menu, others avoidable.

In the drinks section, Hawaiian Sunshine (Rs 195) and Berry Mango Cooler (Rs 240) are being added. Both fail to offer any element of creativity. Hawaiian Sunshine is a concoction of pineapple and lime juice punched with passion fruit syrup, shaken with crushed ice. The drink is refreshing but not an ‘out of the box’ creation. Berry Mango cooler is a misleading name as it turns out to be a smoothie made with ice cream, strawberry and mango crush, mint blended with ice and half an ounce of milk [equal portions of skimmed milk and cream, blended]. This one is clearly avoidable unless you fancy flavoured ‘Lassi’.

IMG-20130826-WA0005The appetizers are perhaps are the best additions to the menu. Serrano Cheese Dip (Rs 365) is a winner. this vegetarian starter has pita bread and tortilla chips with a serrano dip made from cheddar cheese, finely chopped garlic, tomatoes and onions, pan heated to blend. The dip is served at an appropriate temperature, and is a must try , especially for vegetarians.

IMG-20130826-WA0008Black Bean Quesadilla (Rs 285) is the Mexican – Spanish version of stuffed parathas! Nicely done, this vegetarian appetiser has onion shreds, black bean, cheddar cheese and lots of finely chopped green chillies wrapped in pizza dough and put through to the oven. Served with a chipotle sauce and a green dressing salad, the high point of this dish is the green chillies bursting in the mouth once I start chewing on the quesadilla. Charqui Chicken (Rs 285) the first non-vegetarian appetizer to be served disappoints since the grilled chicken is dry.. Apart from the dry texture, flavours come out well in this appetiser prepared with a marination of whipped cream, red wine, nutmeg, scallion, vinegar, pepper powder and orange juice before being put though to the grill.

MenuLettuce Wrap (Vegetarian Rs 425 & Non-Vegetarian Rs 490) is the most innovative addition to the menu. In the non-vegetarian variety, marinated chicken cubes (cottage cheese replaces chicken in the veggie version) , carrots, scallions, water chestnut , button mushrooms is deep fried to give a nice texture before being pan tossed with mix of soya, lime and vinegar. Served on a bed of rice sticks and with a red sauce, purposefully the serving temperature of this filler is kept high. The idea of creating contrast works extremely well as the sizzling hot filler is to be wrapped in the refrigerated lettuce leaves, before being dug in. With the first bite I get the flat and cold taste of the lettuce and as I dig deeper, the extremely well made, hot chicken filling greets my tongue. This one is a must try.

Following the legendary Lettuce Wrap is another classic, the Waldorf Salad (Rs 345).  I wish I had been served this dish earlier. The dish certainly can do with a little more generous addition of walnuts in it. Freshly made, this appetizer is designed for weight watchers and is good asa snack on the run. .

In the main course, there are four proposed menu additions. Chicken Shammi Pizza (9 inch Rs 520, 14 inch Rs 680), Four Seasons Pizza (Veggie – 9 inch Rs 495, 14 inch Rs 685), California Caprese Sandwich (Rs395/-) and the Chicken Ceaser Sandwich (Rs 395).

The Pizzas fail to delight my tongue and though both are visually appealing are best avoided. The main challenge with thin crust pizzas is, it should be served and consumed within minutes of being off the oven, otherwise the base can go chewy. Besides this, in the Shammi Pizza the preparation of the shammi kebab can be improved. The Four Seasons includes isolated toppings of mushroom, spinach, baby corn and onion, hence the name. But as the saying goes ‘united we stand, divided we fall’, isolated flavours fail to invoke that magic.

DSC05906The California Caprese Sandwich (Veg) & Chicken Ceaser Sandwich both turn out to be a meal for the hearty, given the portions. Both sandwiches can be ordered in a multi grain focaccia bread or in a garlic cheese toasted focaccia variant. The Caprese sandwich has a sumptuous filling of pesto, shredded lettuce, cherry tomatoes, bocconcini (fresh mozzarella),  Dijon vinaigrette and come with fries. The Chicken Ceaser Sandwich too has fresh tasting classic ceaser dressing, freshly grilled chicken, lettuce, regular tomatoes, and comes with ceaser salad. Both the sandwiches are good addition to the standard menu, given the detailing in the filling; however they may be a tad too bland for the Mumbaikar’s tongue!

I recommend a strong reason in Black Bean Quesadilla and the Lettuce Wrap to visit CPK and maintain our overall rating of CPK as before!

Ratings (out of 5):

Food: 3.0 | Ambience: 3.0 | Service: 3.5 | Overall: 3.0

Meal for two: Rs. 1600 | Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Timings: 12.00 noon-12.00pm

Address of California Pizza Kitchen:

Mumbai – Maker Maxcity BKC, High Street Pheonix Lower Parel and Infiniti Mall Malad.

Bengaluru – Pheonix Marketcity Whitefield, Hothur Sq no 284 Indiranagar and 105, Vikas Tech Park Koramangala.

Phone: Mumbai – 022 6636 6636 / Bengaluru – 080 6569 6569

Ashish Gupta

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