About a month ago, right before Alex and I went to Virginia for our first Christmas, I was invited by my friend Christina to participate in menu tasting out at Pavilion, a restaurant and event space in Northbrook, a short drive from downtown. The restaurant’s roots are in Russian cuisine, but they have recently completely revamped their menu to offer a seemingly unending variety of food styles, from Russian to Sushi. You know I don’t turn down good food and good company, so obviously I was in! Plus, Alex was on nights, so he was no good to me 😉 So I went off to Pavilion Restaurant Chicago for a little fun.
And now I get to tell you about that time that I ate 3+ dinners and met Wilmer Valderamma, and Sheng Sun (Mortal Kombat fans out there will know who this is, if they have ever seen the movie.) Since most of you don’t know who that is, we will stick with a cameo from Fez.
As I mentioned, Pavilion is a restaurant with an adjoining event/club space. So whilst we were stuffing ourselves silly in the restaurant area, Fez and about 100+ of his “friends” were enjoying themselves and celebrating the launch of their new charity “points” project. We went over and poked around, got our picture, and pinched a few nibbles, but then we returned to our allocated space. What proceeded to occur is what I refer to as yet another Thanksgiving, aka gluttonizing to the extreme.
But it was so delicious I couldn’t help myself! I mean, first they brought out a specialty cocktail….
then tuna tartare, which we know I am an absolute sucker for. I ate the majority of this. Little did I know how much more was to come! But Sashimi grade ahi, avocado, tomato, and balsamic???? C’mon.
Next up: crepes served with smoked salmon, honey, and jam. I am a sucker for smoked salmon, so I went after that. Absolutely delicious 😀
The next dish was one of the best single bites of the night: crostinis with warm goat cheese, poached pears and a balsamic drizzle. The warmth, savory creaminess of the goat cheese worked perfectly with the crunchy crostini, the sweet (but not overly) sweet fruit, and the sweet.savory note of the balsamic. Fabulous!
But I did love the next dish: golden and red beet salad with cheese and another balsamic drizzle. I could have lived inside of that!
A traditional Russian egg and ham salad followed, complemented with peas. It was fun to try out some more traditional Russian dishes along with their take on the party favorites!
They even had flatbread! A fabulous portabello flatbread–meaty and earthy, but still nice and light thanks to the cracker thin crust. Another favorite!
A second traditional Russian dish: chicken dumplings, served with sour cream and vinegar. The dumpling skin was beautifully thin but still held its own–always difficult. And the vinegar and sour cream were very interesting–the interplay of the cream, acid, dough, and meat really changed how you tasted the dish!
But the charcuterie. Oh, the charcuterie. It was as delicious as it looks! Several interesting cheeses, a flower of prosciutto… amazing.
A dill, cucumber, and tomato salad with a sour cream based dill dressing was next, and very Mediterranean–the salad definitely stood on its own, but I would have LOVED it on some gyro meat!
And then the entrees. Yes, AFTER ALL OF THAT. Entrees! These were far more traditionally Russian than the majority of the apps, but just as delicious. Pork cutlet with a marsala- or sherry-esque mushroom reduction. Deep, deep flavor, and served with a potato cake, the crispy salty cake was the perfect foil within all the earthiness.
The other entrees all were served with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables.(From left to right). Perfectly executed Chicken kiev.
And a really fun breaded chicken that basically was covered in bread cubes, like a cross between fried chicken and Thanksgiving stuffing!
Pork patty that was slightly sweet and then all savory. Like an amazing pork meatball, but absolutely no filler.
To say that we were well taken care of at Pavilion would be an understatement. I unfortunately left my little bonbon/truffle dessert in Christina’s car (STUPID), but I didn’t have any room to speak of, any way! To be able to take care of us to such an exacting degree, to execute all such a range of dishes, while simultaneously handling the catering of the major event in the adjoining space (where we also saw that they provided sushi and even greater variety through our peak next door, and they have a full list of signature cocktails!) without us ever knowing is quite an accomplishment.
I would absolutely recommend Pavilion to anyone looking to get just a bit out of the city for a nice dinner, or for a large group party. They even had an incredible New Years Eve party with complete bottle service, and no closing time–yup, stay as long as you want.
And call a few of your friends–Wilmer did. Luckily, I could make it 😀
Tell me about the best party food you have ever had!
Have you had more traditional Russian dishes before?