My family and I received a complimentary meal and additional compensation from California Pizza Kitchen in exchange for writing this post. Although this post is sponsored, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
On most days I have a love-hate relationship with dinner.
It’s not because I don’t like eating. Or even cooking. It’s just that while raising a family of littles, dinnertime can often become synonymous with words like “witching hour,” “tantrums,” and “mass chaos.” It’s late in the day, everyone has an opinion on what should be served, and those opinions rarely (if ever) align. Don’t even get me started on attempting to go out for dinner. In those circumstances my husband and I have been known to pay for the pleasure of arguing with our children over food. Perhaps you can relate.
Still, I know that family dinner is important.
Going out to dinner is important. Setting traditions. Making memories. They are all important, and I’m smart enough to know today matters. If we want to enjoy a family dinner out with our teenage boys, we have to program it into our family DNA now. Waiting until they’re old enough to really enjoy our time together means gambling at the opportunity to enjoy them at all.
This is not a risk we’re willing to take.
So “going out” for dinner as a family usually means carting everyone to an obnoxious pizza arcade place or sitting down at a grocery store buffet. It may be convenient, and there is certainly less hassle over the meal, but I’m not so sure these are the traditions we want to set long-term either. There’s not a whole lot of “special” when celebrating something over tiny tables and the noise of the grocery store loud speaker.
We definitely needed another option.
Recently we were able to visit California Pizza Kitchen and discovered dinning out as a family could be a completely different experience from what we’ve been used to. Something everyone could enjoy. Something that resembled more of what we hope family dinners in the future will become. Something that didn’t mean everyone had to eat pizza.
I’m so excited to share our experience with you today, as well as to include you in on an amazing giveaway California Pizza Kitchen is offering to commenters on this post. Keep reading for more details.
California Pizza Kitchen serves more than just great pizza.
Six of the Chicagoland area CPK locations have undergone an overhaul of sorts-remodeling their facilities, sharpening the intentionality of their dining experience, and freshening their menu with locally sourced ingredients. By the end of next year these renovations will be incorporated into 80 other California Pizza Kitchen locations across the country.
My family had the opportunity to visit the Westfield Old Orchard location and were overwhelmingly impressed by their hospitality, their kindness, and their ability to engage and interact with our boys. The staff we were privileged to meet genuinely believe in the company and are proud to be part of the CPK team. California Pizza Kitchen‘s ability to connect with both customers and employees on such a personal level is a major component of their long-term success.
Plus the food is pretty stinking amazing.
The CPK Reimagined Menu
Mike and I opted to try a sampler meal giving the manger permission to surprise us for dinner. Most of the items we tried came off of CPK‘s new reimagined or seasonal menu, and since we’ve never ordered anything but pizza there, we were absolutely blown away by their new offerings. Here’s a quick run-down of what we tried:
California Pizza Kitchen has a wide variety of non-alcoholic seasonal and summery drinks. I was so glad I tried the Fresh Strawberry Mango Cooler (1). It was crisp and sweet and the perfect kind of refreshing.
We sampled two flatbreads – the Smoked Ham and Swiss (not pictured) as well as the Main Lobster (2). Both were phenomenal, but the Smoked Ham and Swiss was my favorite. You cannot go wrong with goat cheese and caramelized onions.
The California Fields Salad (3) very simply tastes like summer. We are watermelon people, but have never, ever considered putting it in a salad. We have seriously been missing out.
For dinner we enjoyed the Hearth Roasted Halibut (4) and Fire Grilled Ribeye (5). I am not a fish person, but this halibut was good, and the bed of butternut squash faro it was lying on was worth the entire meal. The Ribeye and bleu cheese butter was sincerely perfect, and I may or may not have eaten all the potatoes on my own (sorry Mike!).
As if we hadn’t eaten enough, we squeezed in the Salted Caramel Pudding (6). There are no words friends for its deliciousness. It was a beautiful end to a fabulous meal.
What the Boys Ate
Right about now you’re wondering where my children went while Mike and I enjoyed dinner. It’s true we lost them after Mike’s Frozen Peach Lemonade, but the boys were treated to an incredible dining experience all their own.
Elijah and Noah were able to participate in CPK’s Kitchen Tour for kids. Each child was given a chef hat to personalize and made their own pizza alongside a CPK chef. They learned about a variety of fresh ingredients, were offered samples, and received instruction on how to prepare and toss dough for themselves. Once they created their own pizza, they were able to stand at the side of the oven to watch it cook. After dinner they were treated to personalized self-made sundaes.
It was so exciting to watch them explore in an industrial kitchen with professionals, and clearly it made an impression on them. They haven’t stopped talking about it since.
Your child can experience the excitement of a CPK Kitchen Tour as well! Visit www.cpk.com for more information on birthday parties and school/activity groups.
California Pizza Kitchen wants to treat YOU to dinner
The lovely folks at California Pizza Kitchen have graciously offered to give one lucky reader a $50 CPK gift card AND their new cookbook Taste of the Seasons. To enter your name for a chance to win, head over to CPK’s reimagined menu and leave a comment on this post with the dish you’d most like to try and why.
Please keep the following contest rules in mind:
- One comment/entry per person living in the continental United States only (please and thanks!)
- Contest ends Saturday, July 18, 2015 at 8AM CST.
- Winner will be chosen by random.org, announced on Facebook, and notified by email on the 18th. He/she will have until Monday, July 20, 2015 at 8PM CST to claim their prize.
- California Pizza Kitchen is responsible for the fulfillment and delivery of the $50 gift card and cookbook. A valid email address and mailing address in the continental United States is required for the winner to receive their prize.