Photograph: Arsen Brzostek
Time Out rating:
Not yet rated
Time Out says
Posted: Thu Mar 13 2008
The $38 price tag on the trout at Sixteen—the stately dining room on the 16th floor of the newly constructed (and yet to be finished) Trump Tower—isn’t just for the fish. It’s for the 30-foot-high windows that offer a close-up view of architectural gems like the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower. It’s for insanely comfortable chairs, a multitiered Swarovski chandelier, silverware that’s heavy in the hand, water glasses that are never empty, a restroom that’s tidied after every visit, hostesses at the ready for any request, servers who can rattle off what the caviar’s Iranian roots mean for its flavor, a highly trained sommelier with a wealth of impressive bottles within arm’s reach…all of which add up to a restaurant aiming for AAA Five Diamond status. Thankfully, it’s not my job to hand out diamonds, but it is my job to dole out star ratings, something we try to do within the context of the local dining scene, comparing apples to apples, and, of course, price plays a role.
A night out at Sixteen is an expensive one. But compare the prices to that of Chicago’s best restaurants, and Sixteen’s are only slightly higher. So if the appetizers at Vie, Blackbird and Naha also hover around $15 and entrees are in a similar mid-$30s range, what are you paying for at these places if you’re not getting Five Diamond–style lavishes? Unforgettable food.
Sixteen’s chef, Frank Brunacci, has pedigree galore; his experience includes heading up the kitchen at two AAA Five Diamond Ritz-Carlton restaurants, so he knows how to win the jewels. And there’s no debating that he can cook; a recent visit included well-seasoned quail leg meat that was fork-tender, fresh pasta sheets that fell like ribbons into a light cream sauce scattered with black truffle shavings and escargot, juicy duck breast served properly pink, and crispy-skinned trout that flaked apart with ease. But across the board, everything rang in at “good,” with maybe even a “very good” or two. Nothing we ate was stunning enough to compete with the room, the view and the rest of the Trumped-up experience. And there was something off about some of the ingredients: corn, asparagus, spring peas, strawberries…not exactly items you’d equate with winter. This time of year, the menus of the aforementioned five-star restaurants sport blood oranges, fennel, winter radishes, cauliflower, fingerlings, braising greens, quick pickles, preserves. They may not have a suited busser on-hand with a hankie should you sneeze, but you don’t have to look out the window (30-feet-high or not) to see what season it is.
Ultimately, Sixteen’s place in Chicago’s dining scene largely depends on what’s important to you. For those who put seasonal, delicious-at-every-bite food at the top of their priorities, your money could be better spent elsewhere. For those looking to impress a client or a date with the general public’s notion of what constitutes a fine-dining experience, Sixteen has a table waiting just for you.
Sixteen Trump Hotel, 401 N Wabash Ave
- Cross Street:
at Kinzie St
- Venue phone:
- Venue website:
- Opening hours:
Breakfast, brunch (Sun), lunch, dinner
El stop: Red to Grand. Bus: 29, 36, 65.
Average main course: $45
- Trump Hotel, 401 N Wabash Ave
- Trump Hotel, 401 N Wabash Ave