Fine dining in Chicago isn’t hard to find. But, historically, hotels have not been the place to find those dining options. A renewed sense of interest to cater both to overnight guests and locals has changed that landscape in recent years. Sixteen, located on the 16th floor of Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago’s Loop, is among the latest to offers its guests a two-Michelin-star experience.
The affable Executive Chef Thomas Lents leads the helm in the kitchen, crafting seasonal menus around a theme. Last year, guests experienced everything from “One Winters Day” to “A Feast for Autumn."
Sixteen's summer menu takes guests through coastlines of small towns in Italy, France and Japan — Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes
The recent summer menu took inspiration from the lakefront and, specifically, where land meets water. The menu is engraved on a lighthouse, providing a beacon as guests make their way through coastlines of small towns in Italy, France and Japan and discover dishes akin to works of fine art.
As the sommelier and director of restaurants, Dan Pilkey works closely with Lents to pair the restaurant’s extensive wine list to the menu, while focusing on overall service as well.
The chicken oyster and langoustine is paired with a deliciously fragrant and silky Pofadder red wine from South Africa, while the spiced lamb and cuttlefish noodle dish is enjoyed with Soma no Tengu “Forest Spirit” sake, which has a very rich flavor. The faint cloudiness of the drink is due to the fermentation sediment, which also helps it achieve a silky and bold, slightly fruity finish.
Leeks are not just meant to be eaten; sometimes they serve as a vessel — Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes
The dessert, as in any fine dining experience, is rarely an afterthought, and the same applies at Sixteen. Executive Pastry Chef Aya Fukai spends hours with her team to craft desserts that show both imagination and elevation of flavors. Taking inspiration for the land and sea theme, Fukai offers guests meringue for her land choice and anglaise for sea.
These themed, multi-course menus can take several hours, and reservations are highly recommended. Other menu options include breakfast, brunch and other dinner menus.
For those who prefer al fresco dining, there are few places in the city that top the views from The Terrace at Trump, just outside Sixteen. The rooftop restaurant and bar offers a different menu that can be paired with a variety of boutique wines and hand-crafted specialty cocktails.
It’s not unusual to find locals after hours meeting with friends and enjoying small plates and cocktails as they soak in the city’s skyline, Lake Michigan and Chicago River views.
Fine dining is a work of art. Sixteen delivers art that appeals to all the senses, with heavy emphasis on taste, touch and sight.