A sneak peek and guide to Ravinia's new dining pavilion

The skies were gray, the winds were blowing but spirits were high at last Thursday's Hard Hat preview of Ravinia's new Dining Pavilion.

Originally built in 2007, the Pavilion has undergone a major rejuvenation by architect Michael Barnes of Wight & Company with the interior design by Mark Knauer of Knauer Incorporated.

The new Dining Pavilion, run by Levy Restaurants (Spiaggia, River Roast, Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap, and several stadiums), was still adding finishing touches on Thursday readying itself for Ravinia's June 1, opening day.

The rejuvenation has expanded both indoor and outdoor seating, made entrances more enticing and accessible, and brought more variety to menus with new Executive Chef Michael Tsonton at the helm.

Here are some of the highlights:

The first floor will have a new open, wall- less feel. It is divided into three areas: the new Lawn Bar and patio, the Festival Shop, and Ravinia Market. These spaces will continue to serve customers through intermission on non-classical concert nights.

The first floor introduces the new eatery Lawn Bar, which is expected to become the festival’s popular gathering place. Its two full-service bars--one indoors and one outdoors--will also serve small-plate appetizers and entrees, such as marlin fish tacos, battered chicken sliders, and well- dressed nachos. Designed to serve up favorite brands, signature drinks, and hot food quickly, it is the perfect place to meet up with friends at the start of the Ravinia evening. The Lawn Bar will welcome walk-ups; no reservations taken

Adjacent to the Lawn Bar is the Festival Shop, which nearly doubles the size of Ravinia’s previous gift shop. Run by the Ravinia Women’s Board, the Festival Shop will sell a wide variety of branded apparel, souvenirs, small gift items, jewelry, and picnic gear with profits benefiting Ravinia’s REACH*TEACH*PLAY education programs.

The majority of the first floor will be occupied by an expanded Ravinia Market, where guests can create an entire meal or supplement their picnics. In addition to pre-packed sandwiches, salads, snacks, and an array of cold beverages, the Market will feature five themed hot food stations:

  • PRESSED PANINIS AND SIDES: Four different fresh-pressed paninis (including a vegetarian option) made with seasonal, locally sourced ingredients are served up with a rotating selection of draft beers. The side salads—such as caramelized curry cauliflower and summer vegetable orzo pasta—are served deli style and can easily be carried out to dress up picnics or double as entrées.
  •  847 BURGER: Don’t expect the typical, floppy stadium burger. Borrowing from the North Shore’s area code, 8.47 ounces of Angus beef makes this burger a gourmet meal. The signature burger is topped with cheddar, BBQ sauce, and a fried pickle, but guests can also add slow- roasted brisket. The burgers are served with garlic Parmesan fries and a rotating selection of draft beer.
  • PIZZA CLASSICO: A variety of toppings—including some themed, special surprises throughout the summer—are added to the freshly rolled dough then charcoal fired for a uniquely summery taste.
  • SABROSA TAQUERIA: Chicken, beef, or pork tacos are supplemented by three different loaded-guacamole sides along with draft Mexican beer.
  • SMOKEHOUSE 1904: Established in 1904, it took a long time for Ravinia to become what it is today, and it takes a long time to make authentic smoked brisket, chicken, ribs, and drumsticks. Slow cooked for more than 20 hours, the selection of meats are served with creamy coleslaw, baked beans and jalapeño cornbread.

The second floor is divided into two restaurant spaces, the current Park View and the new Tree Top and Porch. Both restaurants will offer covered outdoor seating so that guests can enjoy alfresco dining. Reservations are strongly recommended for both these restaurants, but walk-ups will be accepted when tables are available.

Ravinia has built out an underused banquet space into the Tree Top and Porch--a fresh dining concept, where gourmet foods will be self-served from chef’s tables and carving stations. One price gets customers as many trips as they’d like to the various stations, which will not only be broken into courses but frequently themed to the music of the day. The chefs will focus on “micro-seasonal” presentations of fresh, locally sourced foods. Wines will be exquisitely matched to each course. Reservations can be made for the main dining room or the covered Porch.

Ravinia’s popular Park View restaurant above Ravinia’s spectacular lawn, will remain largely unchanged physically, but its menu items will be freshened with micro-seasonal themes, and a new gourmet burger will be added to a lineup that already includes trout, short ribs, and various steaks. This is the place a complete dining experience  from appetizers, soups, and salads all the way through desserts, which include the signature Cappuccino Crunch Pie. 

Ravinia will present more than 140 events in the 2018 season from June 1 though September 16. For tickets and information, click here. 

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