California Pizza Kitchen wine tastings

I was at a Californa Pizza Kitchen last month and not intending to have wine with my food, I went ahead and had a small serving any way – since they were free.

Trying to get ahead of other casual dining chain restaurants, CPK has launched its new redesigned wine list nationwide and looking to start a new “wine culture” at its restaurants.

To give diners a glimpse they are offering free wine tastings to diners ages 21 and over. Each week two featured wines are chosen and offered as tastings.

The selection of wines were handpicked by the restaurant’s co-founders/co-CEOs Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax. Most selections on the new list are priced under $10 for a glass but still considered high quality for their price.

The selection includes:                                 

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-Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Chardonnay

-Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay

-Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio

-La Crema Pinot Noir

-Stags’ Leap Merlot

At my visit, I tried the pinot grigio, a white wine for those unfamiliar with wine, and the pinot noir, a red.

I’m not big on white wines and even though the Santa Margherita was tasty and a little woodsy, it was too sweet for my wine taste.

The La Crema pinot was nice and smooth for a more dry and bitter wine but it had the right amount of dryness which is not easily accomplished in many reds.

It’s nice to see CPK step it up to compete with the many smaller upscale restaurants that are more able to switch up their wine offerings. I wonder if they’ll also start offering pairing suggestions too.

Now, can I just have a truly small side salad for like $3 with my pasta? Please….

Dining on a budget: Flame Broiler in Hacienda Heights, Industry

By Eric Terrazas

I have made a recent addition to my list of most visited fast-food eateries.

Earlier this year I decided to sample the Flame Broiler, which had recently opened in my hometown of Whittier.

I ordered the rib plate, which featured two beef short ribs served over steamed rice. The meal also came with fresh green salad and orange slices. The tender ribs, topped by a helping of green onions, satisfied my taste buds. I also thought the salad, served with Oriental Sesame Supreme dressing, enhanced my meal.

After finishing off my ribs and salad, I wrapped up my dinner by eating my orange, which nicely completes the meal.

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On a recent Saturday, I elected to spend my lunch at the Flame Broiler’s location in Hacienda Heights. I once again went with my favorite selection, the Rib Plate, which costs $7.39. Granted it’s a little on the pricey side, but overall it’s still not a bad deal since you receive a healthy portion of food.  

Four other plates are available: chicken, beef, chicken and beef and The Works. All of those choices include the steamed rice, salad and the orange.

The chicken plate costs $6.99 while the beef, along with the chicken and beef, both cost $7.09. Those with more hearty appetites might be interested in ordering The Works plate, which carries a $7.39 price tag. The Works consists of chicken and beef that is served over steamed rice and steamed vegetables. It sounds like I might have to try The Works on my next visit.

If you happen to have a tighter budget, the Flame Broiler also offers several bowls, which are all served with steamed rice. At $4.99, the chicken bowl sounds especially good. The beef bowl costs $5.09. If you happen to be craving both beef and chicken, a half and half bowl is also offered for $5.09.

Vegetable lovers might want to try the chicken veggie or beef veggie bowl, which both cost $5.29. Both selections come with steamed rice and steamed vegetables. And if you want a meal without the meat, you can order the veggie bowl for $3.99. The Works bowl, which includes chicken, beef, rice and vegetables, costs $5.39.

The Flame Broiler has two locations in the San Gabriel Valley: 17110 Colima Road in Hacienda Heights, and 21750 Valley Blvd. in Industry. For information, call (626) 964-7041 for the Hacienda Heights location or (909) 598-5777 for the Industry location.