Next Chapter Menu Arrives at California Pizza Kitchen at Cherry Hill Mall
California Pizza Kitchen has recently updated its menu to focus on high quality, fresh and seasonal ingredients, hand-crafted cocktails, and locally brewed beers. They’re calling it the Next Chapter menu. They rolled it out at the Cherry Hill Mall location recently and we were invited to try it.
Note: if you’re a pretentious food snob, feel free to skip this article. If this “review” makes me the next Marilyn Hagerty, so be it.
Anyhow, we visited this past Tuesday evening, which turned out to the best time to go. It was a cool, rainy day, so business was a bit slower than normal. Fine by me. I usually avoid chain restaurants because they tend to be too crowded and too loud. Not because I’m a pretentious food snob. Typically the restaurants at the Cherry Hill Mall are always hopping and there is always a wait. It’s a popular Mall after all.
We were greeted enthusiastically by General Manager Stephen Yurko who sat us at a cozy booth close to the kitchen and gave us a brief introduction to the new Next Chapter menu. Then, he was kind enough to give us a tour of the kitchen which was very interesting. Whether in a fine dining establishment or chain restaurant; I love commercial kitchens. They are exciting places to me.
After our tour, we returned to our booth and were greeted by our server Nicole. She was especially helpful as we were attempting to make our drink selections. I really wanted to try the new Sangria flight and she convinced me that was a very good choice. She was right!
The Sangria Flight included three 3oz pours of Orchard, Seasonal Harvest, and Red-Berry sangria. The Orchard and Seasonal Harvest also feature St. Germain elderflower liqueur instead of the traditional brandy. So good; mildly sweet and refreshing! If you’re a big fan of Sangria, you absolutely must order this flight. Then order another. Just sayin’. 😉
Hubby chose the Hand-Shaken Agave Mojito. While not an addition to the Next Chapter cocktails, he couldn’t resist. It’s made with Bacardi Superior Rum, Fresh Agave Sour, Fresh Mint & Lime, Organic Hawaiian Sugar Cane. Delightful!
After our whistles were wet, we were ready to sample the Next Chapter menu. We opted to try both new soups: Farmers Market and Baked Potato. The Farmers Market soup contains roasted squash and market vegetables with a touch of cream and finished with a drizzle of California extra virgin olive oil. The Baked Potato soup features purée of potato with Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon and scallions. They were both tasty, but as you can imagine the rich Baked Potato soup won out in the flavor department and was the winner per our taste buds.
PROTIP: you can order two-for-one soup this way – in case you’re indecisive. They will oblige!
We’re big fan of flatbreads so we just had to order one – even though there are no flatbreads on the new Next Chapter menu. The Shaved Mushroom & Spinach Flatbread stood out. It’s made of Cremini mushrooms, sautéed spinach and California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil with Romano and Parmesan. It was everything you’d like a flatbread to be – thin, crispy, and easy to nibble on.
You can’t go to CPK and NOT get pizza, that would be a sin! So we opted for the Sicilian Thin Crust Pizza. Sounds like a total oxymoron, but trust us, it works. Spicy marinara, Italian sausage, spicy Capicola ham, salami, Mozzarella, shaved Parmesan, fresh basil and oregano. I don’t normally eat pizza (it doesn’t agree with me) so I had only a couple of bites, but it was delicious. Hubby loved it.
Next it was time to get down to some Next Chapter entree business. CPK is more than pizza, after all.
If steak is on the menu, 9 times out of 10, hubby is going to get it. He was excited to try the Fire Grilled Ribeye which is a new addition to the Next Chapter menu. The entree comprises of: 12oz 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 wild arugula salad. He said the steak was cooked to his preferred medium-rare.
I was excited to try the new Next Chapter Hearth-Roasted Halibut entree.
The wonderful thing about this dish is the portion size – it is a generous portion of well-seasoned Wild caught Alaskan Halibut which is roasted on a cedar plank and served with grilled asparagus and butternut squash farro with baby kale. The farro is a nice change of pace from more traditional potato or rice sides. Farro is also a heartier grain that fills you up quick. The butternut squash makes it slightly sweet, but the addition of the kale balances the sweet with a more earthy flavor. The asparagus spears were thin and limp so they weren’t anything special. Overall, a nice dish.
At some point during the feast, I ordered a Moscow Mule – which is a new cocktail on the Next Chapter menu. Very happy I did. It was exceptional. Two sips in and I started to feel a bit dizzy. I did drink 3 glasses of Sangria prior to this, after all. This is a classic mule: Grey Goose Vodka, Ginger Beer, Fresh Ginger, Agave Sour. Served in a lovely Copper Mug. Make it a point to get this drink if you go!
If a Moscow Mule isn’t your thing, then you must try the Citrus Crush cocktail. Much like the Mojito and the Sangria’s, this is an extremely crisp drink! Absolut Citron, Hangar 1 “Mandarin Blossom” Vodka, Muddled Mint, Fresh Orange & Lemon – you can’t go wrong! They really did a good job muddling the all the fresh ingredients. Love drinks that are muddled!
At this point, we were beyond full, but Stephen insisted we try one more dish off the Next Chapter menu – the Roasted Garlic Chicken!
This dish includes sweet caramelized onions, fresh Mozzarella, Parmesan, slivered scallions and cracked black pepper with fresh roasted seasonal veggies – cauliflower, fingerling potatoes and carrots. The chicken had slightly crispy skin on the outside, and tender on the inside. Not dry at all that I could tell. So kudos to them on execution. I’m usually all for veggies, but for some reason these didn’t drive me wild. Very one-note. I would have preferred Brussels sprouts over the cauliflower for variety and color. The carrots were good, though.
They also insisted we try the Butter Cake on the dessert menu. No picture, sadly, but it is one of the more extremely decadent desserts I’ve had. It sounds so innocent, but it’s not. Nicole described it as a cross between pound cake, cheesecake, and a sugar cookie. She was pretty spot on. It is served warm with housemade whipped cream and a scoop of Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream. We turned down the ice cream. I mean we already went over the top here, but I had to finally draw the line there. 😂
Listen, I know there are a lot of great independently owned restaurants in our area; but they’re not always convenient or budget/family-friendly. We recommend checking out the Next Chapter menu if you’re ever near a California Pizza Kitchen. That, or simply go for the pizza. The pizza is definitely worth going for. Don’t listen to pretentious food snobs. 😉
Either way, California Pizza Kitchen has something for everyone to enjoy. The food is good, the cocktails are great, and the service is cheery. Certainly, weekends are going to be busy, especially at the Mall, so maybe try on a quieter weeknight – earlier in the week. Great for busy families!
We truly appreciate all of the extra attention GM Stephen Yurko gave us. There are a bunch of hard-working and nice people who work for this location. They really do go the extra mile to make you feel welcome and taken care of. They also do a lot of fundraising activities and try to be as involved as possible in the local community.
As always, tell them Philly Grub sent you and hopefully you get Nicole as your server. She was wonderful.
Thanks, CPK. 👊