Hola Mexicana!

Hip and happening California Pizza Kitchen is a great place to go out with friends for a quick lunch or a small gettogether at work. Shruti Sudhakaran checks out the restaurant.

It is a sizzling Sunday afternoon when I enter the California Pizza Kitchen. The music is mellow (although I have a strong yearning to listen to the Eagles’ hit number Hotel California), the air-conditioning is on full blast, and everything about the place spells Mexico, including the wait staff who are dressed up in colourful sombreros. It’s like you boarded the flight to California but instead ended up at Mexico. Then we are briefed by the manager, that the restaurant is celebrating Mexican food the whole of June (too bad if you missed it). They even intend to add the most ordered Mexican fare to their main menu.

A smiling chef tests our knowledge of Mexican food and after rating us not bad, arranges for us to be seated while he sends his signature platters to surprise us. A few giggles later, we choose a cosy spot in a corner that also gives us a sweeping view of the entire restaurant, just in case we want to observe the crowd (Stalker alert!). The decor is quite rustic. Love the unpainted brick walls! The crowd is mostly expats.

We flip through the menu and decide toorder their Famous pizzas. We don’t look

at the price section and just let the food do justice to our time (perks of working in a leading magazine!) Our waiter seems quite intimidated by us as he brings in glasses of chilled margaritas.

There are also a whole lot of appetisers on our table including crispy nachos complete with cheese sauce, tomatoes and jalapenos apart from the tapas platter of bite-size tortillas. We enjoy the liberty to choose what goes into our tortillas. (More olives please!)

What follows is easily what the fashion industry would call a showstopper. Clayoven-fresh handmade thin crust pizzas with exquisite toppings arrive at our table. We had opted for Tijuana chicken pizza and Fiamma from the meat options while Southwestern pizza and California veggie pizza were our vegetarian choices. One bite and we are stunned. It is simply fabulous.

At that minute, I regret all those millions of 30-minutes or free pizza orders I had made in my life. The pizza here is succulent, yummy, spicy and completely fresh, right from the dough to the toppings. Thoroughly satisfied, we happily chomp through the pizza. Chef also sends out a CPK specialty Baja fishcooked in banana leaf. Though not a seafood fan, I enjoy the little portion I eat.  It is now time for dessert – a coconut tres leches cake and the standard fare, tiramisu. The latter, though usually a tiresome cliche, is excellent and has just the right dash of coffee to tempt your senses. The coconut lime cake is a good option if you’re a coconut fan and are in a mood to experiment. Though relatively new, California Pizza Kitchen offers a very good choice of menu in terms of pizzas, sandwiches, salads and many more. Visit the place with your gang of friends right away, we say!

California Pizza Kitchen

Upper Ground floor, Phoenix Market City,

Velachery Main Road, Velachery, Chennai.

Call + 91 73050 80227 (Reservation recommended)