Pavilion offers the best of Eastern Europe
When you sit down for a meal at Pavilion in Northbrook, you’re not just trying new foods but rather an entirely new dining experience. The restaurant offers what manager Amy Mazur calls Eastern-European-American cuisine, which blends the best of Eastern Europe with classic American dishes for those who like to stick with what they know.
“We do have calamari and your normal items, but if [customers] are looking for something that’s unusual or different, I like to get them to try new things,” Mazur said, “and if they don’t like it, we’ll get them something else.”
When you hear of Eastern-European food, think soul-warming meals like beef stroganoff, potato pierogi, Ukrainian borscht and homemade dumplings — just like Babushka (“Grandma”) would make them. American classics on the menu include the skirt steak sandwich, the cedar-planked salmon and a half-pound bacon cheeseburger.
Co-owner Igor Foltushanskiy opened Pavilion in 2008 after fiding success with his fist restaurant, Versailles, 100 McHenry Road, in Buffalo Grove. Mazur initially came on board as a server, but now she’s keeping the Northbrook restaurant running as if she were welcoming guests into her own home.
“I go out to eat, and I’m in the service industry, and I like to get good service,” Mazur said, “so those are the places that I go back to, and we try to do the same thing here. And being small as we are, word of mouth is very big for our advertisement.”
Don’t be afraid to ask about the menu, said Mazur, who enjoys talking to both new and regular customers about the food — or anything else you may want to chat about. And since the menu has recently been revamped, she is more than happy to recommend a best seller or explain a dish further.
Of Polish descent herself, Mazur said Pavilion’s atmosphere caters to both family dinners and special occasions while offering large portions, family-style options and a live jazz band every Friday and Saturday night from 6-8 p.m.
If you have a party of six or more — like a birthday celebration, an anniversary or even a rehearsal dinner — you can opt for a familystyle dinner package on Saturdays that includes cold and hot appetizers, main courses, dessert, coffee and alcohol, which is all extravagantly placed in the center of the table for sharing. Prices range from $72 to $130 per person.
“From 10 to 120 [people], whatever it is, we’ll provide enough food, enough alcohol for the amount of people — even more than we should,” Mazur said. If you’re just looking for a new lunch spot, the lunch menu offers any of 12 different specials for $9.95.
I visited Pavilion for lunch with The Northbrook Tower Assistant Editor Jamie Bradley and editorial intern Christina Van Zelst. Upon entering the foyer, we were escorted to the right toward the restaurant (the banquet hall was to the left).
When our food was served, the presentation captured our intrigue. Our three dishes sat upon an arched metal centerpiece, allowing each of us to pick off what we wanted and place it on our own plates. Head chef Rigoberto Gaeta — who has been with Pavilion since it opened — clearly took his time with the plating process, making sure the food looks delicious as well as beautiful.
“We do pride ourselves on presentation,” Mazur said. “Every time I bring a dish out, people are like, ‘It’s too pretty to eat.’”
We started off the meal with the tuna tartar ($18), which was large enough to be a meal on its own. The sushi-grade ahi tuna was served on a round bed of alfalfa sprouts layered with tomatoes and avocado and drizzled with sesame oil. With the fist few bites, each layer blended together, making for a cool and refreshing start to the meal. The plate was garnished with a blend of Sriracha red pepper aioli and a balsamic reduction, which added a burst of flvor when I dipped in the tuna.
Next was the grilled Chilean sea bass ($24), which melted in my mouth before I even had a chance to chew. The buttery meat was not too rich, and the grilled texture gave a slight crunch that did not overwhelm the delicate fih. The lingering taste was that of a subtle citrus glaze.
Saving the best for last, we all dug into the Pavilion Signature Lamb Chops ($26), which Bradley could only describe as, “Mmmmm.” The chops were artfully displayed and topped with slivers of deep-fried onions, which added slight texture to the tender but lean lamb meat. Van Zelst backed up Bradley’s sentiments, proclaiming this dish as her favorite of the day.
We ended the dining experience with dessert: individual-sized pastries made in-house. The fist was a classic Napoleon, a French dessert of crispy layered puff pastry and contrasting cream filing. The second was a Russian classic called smetannik, which features sweet and sour cream topped with almonds. While sipping on a cup of coffee, the minimally sweet pastries were the perfect end to a filing meal.