My husband and I joined the Chicagoland media for the first Hard Hat Tour of Ravinia’s newly updated Dining Pavilion. As we entered the newly reconfigured Levy Restaurant spaces, we were invited to sign in on a hard hat, an indicator that there is still work to be done on the first Lawn Bar and Market, and Festival Shop. Entering the Lawn Bar we noted the dramatic tree design on the back wall, a large center bar, open space and comfortable places to sit. Nibbles and drinks were offered. A newly added patio that is protected from rain is huge and comfortable.
We favored the elevator over the beautiful staircase to take us upstairs to the Tree Top where most of the activities were taking place. President & CEO Welz Kauffman greeted guests and unveiled Ravinia’s chef’s table experience. We enjoyed the music of the Young musicians of Sistema Ravinia, an orchestra compiled of Lake County schools that participate in Ravinia’s Reach*Teach*Play music education programs.
The room was buzzing as guest ooed and aahed , impressed with the clean lines and open space that includes the expanded outdoor area, The Porch, We explored the various food stations and were impressed with the variety of food offerings from the new menus designed by Executive Chef Michael Tsonton. The bar that extends across most of the back wall was filled with delectable food choices that included salads, many kinds of vegetable, meats, mussels and an area for drinks.
At another table there was a variety of cheeses, breads and all kinds of appetizers and nibbles. And then, there was the dessert table, with irresistible chocolate mousse and lemon tarts, a blueberry brickle, cookies and more and more. All the food everywhere was colorful, appealing and attractively presented.
It was difficult to decide what food to sample. Everything looked good. As a vegetarian, I was thrilled to see so many vegetable choices and tried many with the mashed white beans the winner. But everything I tried was delicious. My husband could not believe how good the mussels were and had to go back for more. He also enjoyed the wines. We couldn’t resist the chocolate mousse and it was so good.
Elizabeth Porter, Director of Sales for Levy Restaurants, came by to see if we were enjoying ourselves – we were. We went over to find a picture frame and met Sue Schory, Coordinator for Group Events who explained many of the changes including the expanded space of The Porch which has a roof for rain protection and heating lamps for cold evenings.
A few minutes later Executive Chef Tsonton came by to see if we enjoyed his food- we did. The food was fabulous.
Ravinia has menus for weddings, lawn and tent catering, private party packages, private dining and young adult events. More information at the dining atravinia website
Weather and all Ravinia opens on June 1st and then everyone can enjoy the new space, fabulous food and a season of fantastic music.
Ravinia is North America’s oldest and most diverse music festival, presenting over 140 different events every summer, including the annual residency of the nation’s finest, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. As a nonprofit organization, Ravinia provides arts programs for over 85,000 people in under served communities in Cook and Lake Counties through its Reach*Teach*Play educations programs. Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute is a summer music conservatory that awards 60–70 fully paid fellowships each year to the most talented young professional musicians from around the world to work with an esteemed faculty and the headliners who frequent the festival. For information, visit Ravinia website.
Photos: B. Keer unless otherwise noted.