What makes for a good restaurant? Is it primarily the food, or are the other factors like decor, service, and value-for-money equally important? California Pizza Kitchen at Cyber Hub, Gurgaon has left me in a dilemma with its decent food but average everything else.
Situated amongst a variety of restaurants at the latest “it” place for foodies in Gurgaon, California Pizza Kitchen, just like all the other restaurants, has to really up its game in order to draw the crowds, simply because there is just too much competition all around it. It’s always a hard task entering the pizza market with Pizza Hut and Dominos having a strong foothold, so the best way to do that is by being different and exceptionally good and most importantly keeping your competition in mind at all times.
California Pizza Kitchen runs in a nice big space, but still the space in their booths is negligible. If I really wanted to eat feeling like I was in the cattle class of an airline, I would prefer to do just that and maybe travel a bit as a result. Eating with the family, including kids, meant that we had to sit in a booth, and while we weren’t cramped horizontally, there is literarily no leg space available and I for one had to sit diagonally to be comfortable.
Another aspect about eating, that restaurants should understand, is that turning over the table isn’t always the most important thing no matter how important profit is for you. Since we were there for an early lunch, and the place was pretty empty, we wanted to take it slow, order drinks and a starter or two and then order our main course after a while. But it was quite clear that they wanted us out quickly because we were asked three times in a period of about 30-40 minutes if we were ready to order the main course. We had ordered our drinks and starters at this point and were eating/drinking the same.
Nevertheless, we carried on, asking for a few more minutes every time, just when my little six-month old, on his first restaurant outing, decided to drop a full glass of ice tea, which landed with a big thud, but nothing broke. Surprisingly, as the ice tea spilled all over the table and the floor, no one from the restaurant came. We actually had to call them over and request them to clean the mess. Still, I guess it was our fault that the glass fell and it was our duty to ask them, but with a “thud” that loud I would have expected someone to attend on their own.
Anyhow, when you are with the family, these are minor points and don’t really matter unless one seems to be reviewing the place. So let’s talk about the food;
The Thai Crunchy Salad which we ordered as a starter came with a generous helping and was delicious, fresh, and crispy even though it was a little heavy on the Thai curry taste according to my standards.
The Margarita Pizza that was ordered for my daughter was once again tasty according to her, even though it looked pretty sad.
The Fire Roasted Vegetable Pizza that the others in the family ate also passed the taste test, although it is worth mentioning that by the sounds of it, it should have been heavenly, but no one found it to be that. It was good, satisfying, but nothing great.
Lastly, The Pepperoni Supremo is what I ordered. I decided to go with the Supremo over the normal Pepperoni pizza because it promised spicy garlic marinara, two helpings of Mozzarella, Parmesan, gourmet pepperoni, and Italian herbs. What I got, in its thin crust avatar, was something that was once again was exceptional and bordering scrumptious, but nothing as great as it was described in the menu. The spicy garlic was evident and I love garlic so that was good, but other than that there was nothing else that I hadn’t had in miscellaneous pepperoni pizzas over the years. The gourmet pepperoni didn’t feel special, or rather gourmet enough, the Italian herbs seemed like the mixture of herbs that can be found of the table of every pizza restaurant across the world, and the double helping of Mozzarella and Parmesan just didn’t feel enough, when it should have been bloating.
So, with a damage of around Rs. 3000, we finally headed home somewhat satisfied, although, wondering if it was all worth it. The seating was a bit cramped and while the service was not bad, it just was missing that special something. The food on the other hand was good, but not up there with the best and did seem a tad overpriced at the end of it.
Unfortunately, I don’t feel I’ll be heading back to California Pizza Kitchen in a hurry. It’s a good place for a change when you’ve had enough of Pizza Hut or Dominos or your usual pizza place, but don’t expect to be wowed at the end of it all.