by Jenn (eating bender) on June 6, 2012

I met up with my friend Lauren for dinner on Monday night. Our original plan was to try out Wilde & Greene, a natural market and restaurant up in Skokie at the Old Orchard mall. We walked around for a bit and while it looked nice, there was nothing that really grabbed our eye. So we decided to forgo something new in favor of an old standby: California Pizza Kitchen.

You really can’t go wrong with CPK. I used to go there nearly every weekend of high school with my friends Alexandra and Mary back in Minnesota, and several times with my friend Caitlin during college. I almost always ordered the pepperoni pizza or barbecue chicken salad, respectively.

Ironically, CPK had an updated menu this time around, so the old standby quickly gave way to a new favorite: Quinoa and Arugula Salad.

This was amazing. Quinoa and arugula combined with red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus, toasted pine nuts and feta. It was tossed in a homemade champagne vinaigrette but was not drowning in dressing (I’m looking at you, Cheesecake Factory).

I couldn’t resist ordering the wine they recommended: a Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling. It was definitely on the sweet side, but was very refreshing as we dined al fresco on a sunny evening.

When the waitress came by and asked us if we wanted dessert, I decided the “new favorite” trend should continue with their strawberry shortcake. One thing to know about me is that if there is ever a strawberry shortcake served with biscuits on the menu (as opposed to pound cake), I will order it. I blame Mama Bender – yet another high school tradition.

The biscuits and strawberries were the best part by far. I wasn’t as big of a fan of the whipped cream and candied lemon zest. Perhaps those should have been replaced with ice cream. Next time.

“Eye” had a great time hanging out with Lauren, as always. She even became the subject of my #PhotoADayJune: close-up. For all you iPhone photography addicts (ahem), I highly recommend the Camera+ app. Totally worth the 99 cents because it really makes your photos pop.

Although in this case, I think Lauren’s blue eyes pop all on their own!

Thanks for letting me stick my phone in your face. 😉

I’ve got a running update coming. There are just four days until showtime and I’m not a big fan of the 90 degrees and sunny forecast given my track record with warm weather runs. Here’s hoping a cloud or two will drift in unexpectedly!

Do you have any “old favorite” restaurants that you turn to again and again?


{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Erica June 6, 2012 at 8:08 pm

You’re going to rock it! I will be cheering you on from afar! That salad looks totally delicious. I always get stuck on certain dishes at restaurants- nothing wrong!
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2 Jenn (eating bender) June 9, 2012 at 10:34 am

Thank you, Erica!!


3 Cara (Twinthusiast) June 6, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I used to love CPK too – haven’t been there in ages! My other old standby was Rubios (Mexican, not sure if it’s in the Midwest), but as you know my new fav is Pannikin :) Excited to hear how the race goes!
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4 Jenn (eating bender) June 9, 2012 at 10:34 am

I’ve seen Rubios in Arizona but have never been! Although I would take Pannikin any day. :)


5 Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) June 6, 2012 at 9:51 pm

wow! Her eye is so pretty! I’ve never been to CPK, but your dinner looks pretty tasty!


6 Jenn (eating bender) June 9, 2012 at 10:37 am

I couldn’t believe all the colors that came out of her blue eye – so cool!


7 emily (a nutritionist eats) June 6, 2012 at 11:19 pm

I’m so impressed that CPK has a quinoa salad, yum!
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8 Jenn (eating bender) June 9, 2012 at 10:37 am

I was, too! So delicious!


9 Michelle@PeachyPalate June 7, 2012 at 4:33 am

That salad looks incredible!!!
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10 Jenn (eating bender) June 9, 2012 at 10:38 am

It was sooo tasty! I wish I had one now!


11 Joy June 7, 2012 at 6:44 am

Great eye pic! Our stand by is a juice bar half an hour away (I keppe taking him in hopes he’ll buy me a vitamix) this weeks concoction was nasty!


12 Jenn (eating bender) June 9, 2012 at 10:39 am

Thanks, Joy! I hope that you will get that Vita-Mix soon. :)


13 Katie H. June 7, 2012 at 7:54 am

LOVE CPK! Although I always go with the Hawaiian pizza on thin crust. Yummm!

My current “go-to” restaurant is Ingredient. Do you have those? I’m not sure how local they are…


14 Jenn (eating bender) June 9, 2012 at 10:40 am

Yum! I love Hawaiian pizza. I might have to get that next time! I don’t think we have Ingredient near us, but I love the name!


15 Caroline June 7, 2012 at 8:24 am

Wow that’s such an awesome photo!! And I love CPK! Yum : )
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16 Jenn (eating bender) June 9, 2012 at 10:41 am

Thanks, Caroline!!


17 Ali June 7, 2012 at 8:52 am

It all looks so yummy.

Please follow me and leave me comments. It definitely motivates me knowing people read my blog, as I’m sure it does for you too! I’m into this new health kick that I’m hoping turns into a life time change! If you follow me, please email or comment. I love feedback and suggestions!

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18 Jenn (eating bender) June 7, 2012 at 9:40 am

Hey Ali!

Just tried leaving a comment on your blog but no matter how many different ways I tried, it wouldn’t accept it! It kept saying my identity “could not be verified.” Just wanted to let you know I was reading and perhaps others might be having the same problem?

Either way, so excited to read more! Loved your introductory post explaining the message behind sweat and a sundress!


19 Megan (Braise The Roof) June 7, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Wow, that is an incredible picture of her eye! I love that she let you do that, too. :) I love that CPK- I go there a little too often, actually. Have you ever ordered their hummus appetizer? The pita it comes with is freakin’ amazing.
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20 Jenn (eating bender) June 9, 2012 at 10:43 am

I’ve never ordered the hummus appetizer – I need to correct that next time, especially if the pita is amazing! The best part, IMHO. :)


21 Claire June 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm

I love that she let you do that, too. Thanks for the mouthwatering post. I am craving with the berries.
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22 Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner June 7, 2012 at 5:20 pm

I’ve never had Strawberry Shortcake on a biscuit….but now I want one. Good luck on your run!
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23 Jenn (eating bender) June 9, 2012 at 10:44 am

Oh my…I highly recommend trying it if you ever come across it!! Thanks, Chelsea!


24 Val June 7, 2012 at 6:01 pm

That salad looks awesome and totally doable to make at home. Inspired! Good luck on your race! Just do your best, that’s all you can do.
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25 Jenn (eating bender) June 9, 2012 at 10:44 am

Thank you, Val! That’s really great advice. :)


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