Pros: Extensive menu
Cons: Seating arrangements, sub-par food, loud atmosphere, service needs improvement
My husband and I were exploring Southern California and ended up in Burbank. We decided to give California Pizza Kitchen a try for lunch.
Location and Contact Information
601 N. San Fernando Road
Burbank, CA 91502
Phone: (818) 972-2589
Fax: (818) 972-2910
My husband and I arrived around 1PM and did not have to wait for a seat. I noticed there were booths (full size and half size booths) on each side of the aisle and there were small tables situated between the booths. The tables looked cramped where they were placed and I was certainly not wanting to sit in the middle of the aisle and be the "monkey in the middle." Thankfully we were seated at a half booth table next to the window, which allowed for nice people watching. However, later on during lunch, a poor couple got seated in on the of middle tables. The middle tables were definitely a terrible place to sit for a meal since there was high foot traffic on both sides, as people walked by to get to the other tables at the back of the restaurant.
There is also a small outdoor area that is accessed through the back of the restaurant and people can sit out there to enjoy the sunny California weather if they prefer.
My experience at California Pizza Kitchen did not start off on the right foot. When we entered, the hostess just looked at us and didn't say anything. I'm sorry, but am I an alien from another planet? I told her politely that there were two of us for lunch. That was met by an abrupt, "Follow her."
The layout of the restaurant left much to desire, especially in the front half that had the crowded middle tables. When we sat down at our half booth, my husband and I were pleased that we weren't sitting in the middle of the aisle. The place looked clean; the table was clean as were our booth seats. There was music playing overhead that was a bit loud, making conversation a bit strained. What added to the problem was the noise level in the restaurant. My husband and I, even though we were sitting across from each other, often had to repeat ourselves at elevated voice levels in order to hear what the other was saying. The loud noise level was a definite distraction.
California Pizza Kitchen has an extensive menu. It's huge! When I was looking it over, I started to pity the cooks in the back who had to concoct one of the gazillion offerings on the menu. The breakdown of the menu is as follows: Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Sandwiches, Pizza, Specialties, Pasta, Desserts, and Beverages.
We ordered the Thai Chicken Pizza. It's described from the menu as follows: "Pieces of chicken breast marinated in a spicy peanut-ginger and sesame sauce, Mozzarella cheese, green onions, bean sprouts, julienne carrots, cilantro and roasted peanuts." We also ordered a full Thai Crunch Salad. The salad is described as: "Shredded Napa cabbage, chilled grilled chicken breast, julienne cucumbers, edamame, crispy wontons, peanuts, cilantro, julienne carrots, red cabbage and scallions tossed with a lime-cilantro dressing. Topped with crispy rice sticks and Thai peanut dressing."
The Thai Chicken Pizza was about $12 and the Thai Crunch Salad was about $12.50. There's an option of adding avocados to the salad ... which would run you an extra $2.50!
The Thai Crunch Salad didn't look very appealing when it was brought to the table. It was a heap of stuff piled on a bland, white bowl. It frankly looked horrible. Oh, but they do include a pair of chopsticks on the side of the bowl for use! There is a lot of sauce on the salad, so the crispy rice sticks become a soggy mess after about three minutes. I did like the flavor of the sauce, although I didn't appreciate my salad drowning in it. There was a good amount of chilled, grilled chicken, which was nice. However, the plentiful edamames were overcooked, which was a sad statement. Overall I thought the Thai Crunch Salad was average and could definitely use some improvement. Less sauce, less cook time for the edamames, better presentation.
The Thai Chicken Pizza was below average. The dough was chewy and seemed a bit undercooked. Once you've messed up the dough to pizza, the topping can't and won't save it. The chicken was flavorful, but the bean sprouts and the carrots were bland and soggy on the pizza. I love bean sprouts, but not when they're limp, soggy, and bland. I actually picked them off after eating the first piece of pizza with everything on top. The pizza was definitely less than average. It needed a better crust and better toppings.
The service really needed some improvement at this particular California Pizza Kitchen. First, the hostess needs a lesson in greeting customers. I'm not asking for anything special, but maybe a "hello" or a "welcome" wouldn't kill her. The waitress took our orders, asked coldly if we wanted bread, dropped off the bread, and didn't return around for a long, long time. She was not the one who delivered our food; someone else did. And that person just plopped it on the table and left. Our drinks sat empty for a long while before they were refilled.
Two thumbs down for California Pizza Kitchen. It's great that it offers such an extensive menu, but the food needs to be up to par, as does the service. Unfortunately the CPK that I lunched at offered service that definitely could be improved upon and sub-par food. You can bet I won't be eating here again!
Thanks for reading!