It’s not a secret how snobby I am about all things Chicago. As far as I’m concerned, everything in Chicago is generally better. Our pizza is better, our sports teams are better (well, in theory anyway), summers in Chicago can’t be beat. Overall, Chicago is just a better city. Than anywhere. Hands down.
When I found out that Mr. New York himself was building a tower literally in the heart of our beautiful city, I was pissed. Livid. Disgusted. As far as I was concerned, Mr. Trump could take his millions and help some other economy boom because Chicago didn’t need him. After the building went up, my attitude worsened. Situated among some of Chicago’s most prestigious, historic buildings, the all glass façade does nothing to compliment our beautiful city architecture. In fact, I think the building looks pretty phallic and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Mr. Trump purposely erected something that conspicuous smack dab in the middle of our breathtaking skyline.
Overflowing with pride for our city, my mom and I vowed never to step foot in the forsaken building that is Trump Tower. Then, last October, we met Chef Frank Brunacci, the Executive Chef of Sixteen, at the Celebrity Chef Ball. He dazzled us with his Australian accent and buttered us up with his exquisite dish. We literally blocked the table toward the end of the night so that we could finish off the few tasting dishes he had left. He promised us that if we ever decided to step foot into the Trump building, he’d make it worth our while.
It took a lot longer than we expected, but we finally made it to Sixteen a few weeks ago to celebrate my godmother’s birthday (she’d been dying to go and I wanted an excuse to dress up on a Friday night). My parents and I arrived first and, I admit, our jaws dropped. Sixteen is everything I’d expected from a Trump building- classy and sophisticated with a modern twist. An all glass wine cellar lined the walk from the foyer to the main dining room that had the most exquisite panoramic view of the city. Breathtaking. Chicago’s Friday traffic delayed my aunt and uncle, so my parents and I decided to order cocktails at the bar while we waited. The menu impressed me- there aren’t too many places in the city where I can get Jordan by the glass. And for $26 a pop, I was shocked that the wine was served to us warm. Ugly warm. Put an ice cube in the glass warm. ** It left a bad taste in my mouth, literally and figuratively.
The bad taste in my mouth left by warm wine slowly faded away when we sat at our table, which was right against a window that overlooked the River and Mag Mile. I forgot about the warm wine completely by the time Chef Frank visited our table to welcome us to his restaurant. He was candid and funny and had us all very excited for the meal ahead. We started with savory Veal Sweetbreads served with a parsnip puree and bacon and potato hash; Smoked Diver Scallops with a trio of beets and horseradish ravioli, and, my personal favorite, Maine Lobster in a vanilla broth. Ordinarily, you couldn’t pay me to believe that Lobster and vanilla would taste good in the same bite. But this dish was better than good, it was delightful.
It amazed me that I was already starting to feel full considering the portions weren’t huge. I saved enough room to enjoy a delectable Australian Rock Lobster Tortellini served with smoked paprika white bean and chorizo, which I thoroughly enjoyed (but not as much as the lobster and vanilla). I also made a point to try my mom’s Duck Breast with pistachio crusted black rice, warm duck confit salad and pomegranate vinaigrette which was undoubtedly the best duck either of us has ever tried.
The meat was extremely lean and was perfectly complimented by the warm confit and sweetly tart pomegranate vinaigrette.
Desserts at Sixteen are so intricately detailed, they ask that you order them at the beginning of the meal. Had I known how full I’d be, we probably could’ve passed on them completely, but that “I don’t NEED dessert” notion disappeared when Chocolate Cheesecake and Apple Strudel with Honey Ice Cream landed in front of me!
Chef Brunacci made me a believer. I may never love Donald Trump. I may never get over that huge building that impolitely intrudes on Wabash Ave. But I’ll be back to the Trump International Hotel & Tower to visit Sixteen. Again, and again, and again.
** The sommelier recommended a delicious Malbec Cabernet blend for dinner that was served straight out of the wine cellar at a perfect temperature. I think he’ll take our suggestion to chill the reds served at the bar, too.