The Ravinia Festival is one of the many highlights of summer in Chicago. The oldest outdoor music venue in the country hosts every genre of musical guests from Common to Tony Bennett. The festival is well-known for being picnic-friendly, but the Park View Restaurant at Ravinia is worth leaving your picnic basket behind.
Ravinia actually has three restaurants on site: Park View, Mirabelle and The Freehling Room, plus a market for quick grab-and-go goodies. Park View serves Contemporary American dishes on the second floor of the pavilion, with indoor and outdoor tables. (FYI: The patio is in earshot of the music if you can’t finish your food before the concert starts.)
Park View is a relaxing, bright space that acts as a calming buffer between the chaos of getting to Highland Park (especially if you took the Metra with downtown commuters like we did) and the energy of the concert. Plus it’s a nice break from the heat before being outside all night.
Park View at Ravinia Festival
I was invited by FoodieChats to experience Ravinia with dinner at the Park View restaurant and the Buddy Guy concert. FoodieChats is an online community of food-obsessed people from around the country. I’ve been following the #FoodieChats hashtag for years, so it was an exciting honor to finally meet the people behind the tweets! (Thanks again, Steve and Angela!)
The best part about eating with a bunch of people equally obsessed with food is that we order one of everything and everyone is more than willing to swap bites with each other. We also aren’t shy about getting out our cameras to photograph our food before eating, either!
Park View has a hearty availability of wine by the glass and the bottle, ranging from $32-100. Most of them are on the affordable side, which is always a plus! There’s plenty of beers available, too, from local to craft. There are only a handful of specialty cocktails, like Moscow Mules, Old Fashioned and a Margarita but with a full bar, I’m sure they can whip up anything you’d like.
Park View’s starters run the gamut between familiar (guacamole, $9; hummus crudité, $10) to interesting (octopus, hummus kawarma). The Hummus Kawarma ($14) — braised lamb- and mint-topped hummus — was a first for everyone at our table, but everyone enjoyed it. But the Grilled Spanish Octopus ($14), with chorizo, kalamata olives and cheese, was my favorite.
It’s tempting to skip this section of the menu but I highly recommend you don’t. Both the Melon and Feta Cheese salad (with pistachios, radish and herbs, $12) and the Wedge Salad ($13) were well talked about around the table. The Wedge Salad might sound boring, but you can’t go wrong with blue cheese, red onions and cherry tomatoes. (Although a little less dressing would have been plenty!)
Even though six entrees grace the menu at Park View, our entire group ordered only two of them: the Roasted Salmon ($24) and the Prime Rib ($34). I was surprised to see that no one ordered the Mushroom Tagliatelle ($19), Beef Short Rib ($26) or the Wood-Roasted Chicken ($24).
The Roasted Salmon — which is blanched, then fried — had a lovely light crust to it. The avocado crema, cucumber and dill kept it summery.
Thankfully our group ordered all the desserts, which were all incredible. I was painfully full by this point, but the Signature Chocolate Cake ($10) was one of the best I’ve had in Chicago. Chocolate cake is my weakness and it’s obvious why this dessert is the Park View’s signature.
The Key lime pie ($11) had a homemade crust that perfectly balanced the tartness of the limes. It was good enough to compete with key lime pies in Key West!
Thoughts on Park View at Ravinia
The Park View is more than a concert venue restaurant. It stands by itself in its approachable, yet expertly executed cuisine. Instead of hauling food to Ravinia, have a relaxing and enjoyable dinner at the Park View Restaurant before the concert, grab a bottle of wine at the Ravinia Market and enjoy the show.
Go to Park View at Ravinia for :: a pre-concert dinner without the stress of bringing it yourself. Notes :: Open for all Pavilion and Martin Theatre performances from the gate opening until the start of the show. Reservations are available via Opentable online. Ticket + dinner packages are available for certain concerts.
Disclaimer :: I was graciously treated to Ravinia as a guest of FoodieChats. As always, all opinions are my own.