Wine racks at Sixteen (2009)
|Head chef||Thomas Lents|
|Food type||American cuisine|
|Street address||401 N. Wabash Ave.|
Sixteen is a restaurant on the sixteenth floor of the Trump International Hotel and Tower, Chicago in the Near North Side community area of Chicago, Illinois. It is one of three food and dining options in the hotel's room service offering. Sixteen opened in early February 2008, and an adjoining outdoor patio terrace, named The Terrace at Trump, opened on June 25, 2009 following the completion of the hotel's construction.
The restaurant and its terrace are known for their views of the city. The eastward view includes Lake Michigan, Chicago River, and the Wrigley Building clock tower. During the summer, the view includes the seasonal semi-weekly fireworks displays over the lake from Navy Pier. The restaurant holds a five-star rating, according to the Forbes Travel Guide (formerly Mobil Travel Guide), making it one of only 3 restaurants in the city to attain such a rating in 2015, and a two-star rating by the Michelin Guide. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, it was one of only 5 restaurants in the city to achieve at least a two-star Michelin rating.
Sixteen was designed by Joe Valerio, whose previous credits included the Garmin flagship store on the Magnificent Mile. Valerio's design had to work within spatial constraints determined by the tower's architects, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, leaving him to deal with complications stemming from a variety of column shapes — some square, some round, and others rectangular. He was also obligated to incorporate the skyscraper's aluminum window frames and a garage for window washing equipment, which uses floor space overlooking the Chicago River. Sixteen opened in February 2008, a few weeks after the lower floors of the Hotel had a partial opening, even though construction on the building had not been completed.
Sixteen has been described architecturally as a sequence of spaces that do not reveal themselves at once, but rather in "procession". The restaurant's foyer is T-shaped, and a passageway to the hotel is lined with floor-to-ceiling architectural bronze wine racks in opposing red and white wine rooms. The passageway leads to views—praised by Chicago Tribune Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Blair Kamin—that showcase the Wrigley Building clock tower and the Tribune Tower's flying buttresses. Kamin notes that these views are "more intimate" than the panoramic ones of the Signature Room, a restaurant near the top of the 100-story John Hancock Center. The views are described as equally impressive by day and by night. The main part of the procession is the Tower Room, a dining room with a 30-foot (9.1 m) dome-shaped ceiling made of West African wood. The dome is furnished with Swarovski chandeliers and incorporates mirrors so that all diners can experience the view. The restaurant has two other dining rooms, named for their views: the Bridge Room and the River Room.
Thomas Lents was appointed executive chef of Sixteen in January 2012. Lents began his career as executive sous chef of Chicago's four-star restaurant Everest, under the direction of chefs Jean Joho and Thierry Tritsch. After a five-year tenure, he moved to Dublin, Ireland, where he worked as a sous chef at the Michelin two star-rated Thornton's Restaurant. During his time abroad, Lents staged in acclaimed kitchens, including the Michelin three star-rated Waterside Inn in Bray and Le Manoir Aux Quatres Saisons in Great Milton. Upon returning to the United States in 2007, Lents worked at the Michelin three star-rated, five-diamond Joel Rubochon at The Mansion inside MGM Grand Las Vegas, where he was quickly promoted from sous chef to executive sous chef. In 2008, he moved north to San Francisco to take the chef de cuisine position at the Michelin-rated Quince Restaurant, before Chef Joël Robuchon offered him the opportunity to be the first American to serve as chef de cuisine of his namesake restaurant. Lents holds an advanced placement culinary art degree from the New England Culinary Institute, where he studied under founding chef, Michel LeBorgne, as well as a BA in philosophy from Wabash College in Indiana.
Previously Sixteen was led by executive chef Frank Brunacci who had worked in two AAA Five Diamond establishments, Diamond Victor's at The Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans, Louisiana and The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead, Atlanta, Georgia, and also at restaurants in London and Australia. In addition to using European techniques, he relies on spices from North Africa and India. The cuisine, decor and architecture have all drawn impressive reviews. Food is available à la carte or in tasting services.
Fodor's praised the food as a "unique fusion of European and Asian flavors". According to the critic from Time Out Chicago, the restaurant is more of a place to impress clients and dates than a top–notch dining experience with top-notch cuisine due to its association with Donald Trump and its views. The magazine's annual Eating & Drinking guide describes the dining room as stately and impressive, the staff as attentive and professional and the food as well-presented. Kamin remarks that although some of the comments that he received by e-mail are not as supportive of the entire structure as they are of the restaurant, the restaurant provides an opportunity for people to emulate Guy de Maupassant, who is said to have disliked the Eiffel Tower so much that he ate at the tower's restaurant daily so as not to have to look at its iron monstrosity. According to the Forbes Travel Guide: 2010 City Guide: Chicago, the hotel hosted one of the seven four-star restaurants in Chicago, which had two five-star restaurants. Three years later, according to the Forbes Travel Guide: 2013 City Guide the restaurant was one of only three five-star restaurants in Chicago. The food is "Meticulously crafted American cuisine crafted with seasonal ingredients is presented seamlessly by a polished waitstaff." It remained one of only 3 five-star Forbes-rated restaurants in the 2015 Forbes Guide (along with Alinea and Grace).
When Chicago became one of three American Michelin Guide star-rated cities in November 2010, Sixteen was one of 23 restaurants to receive at least one star for 2011. However, the following year, it lost its rating during its chef transition. Sixteen regained its one-star rating for the 2013 edition under first year executive chef Thomas Lents. The restaurant was promoted to two-star rating by Michelin for 2014 and retained that rating in 2015. It was one of 5 Chicago restaurants to achieve at least a two-star Michelin rating in both years. In 2016, it again retained its two-star rating as one of five restaurants in the city with such a rating.
The restaurant has been described as expensive, and one critic partly attributes the prices to Sixteen's status as a hotel restaurant. However, others feel the prices are appropriate for the ambiance created by the interior design, architecture, views, and association with Trump. According to Vettel, the prices are respectable given the overall experience. Sixteen has a bar that Kamin complains has limited views, but that Chicago Tribune restaurant critic Phil Vettel says was pleasant.
In addition to Sixteen and the traditional hotel room service dining option, Trump International Hotel and Tower, Chicago provides two other food & dining options for its guests.
The Terrace at Trump
The Terrace, opened on June 25, 2009, has views of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan as well as Navy Pier's seasonal Wednesday and Saturday evening fireworks and was designed for al fresco dining. It is located adjacent to Sixteen on the first setback of the tower, and it was part of a larger 2009 movement to supply al fresco dining options to the Chicago marketplace. The view also features a close-up of the Wrigley Building's clock tower. Although it offers a menu of appetizers and entrees, it is said to focus on serving drinks, and Time Out Chicago describes it as a posh playground for consuming cocktails. The Chicago Sun-Times praises its views and ranks it as the number one al fresco dining venue in Chicago. It is open daily afternoons and evenings, weather permitting.
Located on the mezzanine level, the hotel bar named Rebar bar opened on April 18, 2008. It touts itself as a "Liquid Kitchen" due to its use of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables. Two weeks after its opening, it was selected by David Himmel, a contributing editor to RedEye from Metromix, as the best new bar to take a date to. Himmel described Rebar as "sleek" and spoke highly of its eastward Chicago River views. The bar was named after the 50,000 short tons (45,000 t) of reinforcing steel bars, called rebar, that support the hotel. Another Metromix contributing editor spoke highly of the views and described it as a hotel bar with a cozy feel. Rebar has both a main bar and a standing room only bar. One member of the WMAQ-TV Street Team commended it for its signature cocktails and sushi, while another gave kudos for the design and the stainless steel swizzle sticks that the bar calls "stirs". Rebar is equipped with a 25-person VIP room overlooking the lobby. The Zagat: Chicago Restaurants 2009/10 review of Sixteen mentioned that Rebar hosts Champagne tastings on Wednesdays.
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