good eats near Ravinia?
Excited about going to Ravinia Sept. 1st and seeing Tony, but not at all familiar with the area. We will be staying in Buffalo Grove and would like to eat before we go to the concert. Nothing big and fancy and also not pizza. Any suggestions are very welcome. We have a car and will be there early in the day, so if we have to drive a little ways, it's o-k. Thanks to all who know the area!
Ravinia is very close to the renowned North Shore restaurant row area of Highwood. Good options abound. While Buffalo Grove is close to the Wheeling restaurant row area as well. You will have no shortage of options in either area. I personally like Wheeling better but it can get very busy and sometimes feel impersonal, while Highwood has a neighborhood feel with all the restaurants basically being in the downtown area by the train station and each is very walkable from the other.
Wheeling is home to Bob Chin's crabhouse, Le Francis, and the original Weber Grill just to name a few. I'm sure fellow chowhounds will chime in. Have fun on your visit.
There is plenty of (overpriced) food at Ravinia Park itself. Most of it is very good, and it's nice to eat outside (if the weather is good). Most people bring a picnic to Ravinia (even if you watching the concert from the pavillion). If you would like to picnic, but don't have all the picnic equipment, you can buy picnic-type food at the park and eat at picnic tables, or rent chairs and a small table. I highly recommend the spinach-artichoke dip. Save room for ice cream.
As for restaurants outside of the park, there are plenty of good places on the North Shore.
- Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook is excellent and not far from Ravinia - definitely make a reservation though. The food is contemporary American, including lots of upscale twists on comfort food favorites.
- O'Neil's in Winnetka is one of my favorite places. Contemporary American and Italian food. There is great outdoor seating and good service. Their citrus dressing is my favorite salad dressing in the entire world (it's very sweet though, don't order if you don't like sweet).
- Bella Via in Highland Park is good red-sauce Italian food. You can park by the train station, walk to the restaurant, and then catch a park & ride shuttle to the park.
- the Highland Park location of Rosebud. I love the original downtown, but the food and service at the Highland Park location don't live up to it. I haven't been in a couple years, but I went three times before giving up on it, and never had a good meal.
O'Neil's has some nice outdoor dining, but I find it overrated by people who've gone there so long their senses must be numbed. Has anyone else noticed a musty odor when you walk in? The outside dining is nice, but I kept thinking about my food coming from the dark and musty entryway. And what's with all the fabric hanging from the ceiling? A fashion statement? If I want to eat in a tent I'll join the Army. In the end, I'll say that they have good bread and everything else was barely adequate. Tip: For lunch, there's a Panera a block south. For dinner: Rosebud in Highland Park (the original is on Taylor Street) is excellent. I'd try it again if I were you. Bella Via is also very, very good.
O'Neils used to be one of our favorite places, despite the decor and the geriatric customer base. It isn't any more. We went there last night and found the place extensively remodeled, and not for the better. Several tables have been removed and replaced by a bar. Since they have reduced the seating and still don't take reservations, the bar area is filled with irritated would-be diners rather than the hoped-for revelers. Things don't improve once you get into the old large dining room. Your waiter gets the wine order wrong, which can happen, but what shouldn't happen is that the person who brings it to the table runs off while you're starting to tell her she brought the wrong wine. But wait, there's more - you order one of the specials, a salad with a few scallops on top, and find that while some of the ingredients are at a temperature compatible with the slightly-warm scallops, the rest are right out of the depths of their refrigerator. Oh, and when the food is delivered, a staffer with pepper mill and cheese comes up behind the waiter and asks "Do they want pepper or Parmesan?" and is told "No" by the waiter, who doesn't bother to ask us whether we do.
We used to go to O'Neils because the service was always good and they had a few items on the menu that we really liked. We tolerated the no-reservations policy and the decor because waits were tolerable and we could ignore the decor. Now it's just not worth the trouble. Too bad; we really liked the place.
Did Ravinia Bistro reopen? I've always liked it, but less so right before a concert.
I really don't think the food in the park is that good. Decent but very expensive sandwiches. I do like the brownies. We do grab a meal on occasion before a concert but we bring our own bottle of wine because the stuff they serve is terrible and expensive.