Anyone looking to make some changes in the New Year should look to Sixteen in the Trump International Hotel & Tower for inspiration. The restaurant recently debuted what might be its most creative menu to date; “A Story of Chicago” chronicles the city’s history through 20 courses of evocative food.
As far as design goes, the menu for Sixteen’s winter dinner is a work of art. Modeled after a CTA map, the menu gives diners the option to ride on the blue or red line. The blue line requires an “all-day pass” and takes guests through 20 courses ($210), starting at the founding of the city along the banks of the Chicago River and ending with a tribute to Wrigley gum. The red line leads to the slightly abridged “express line,” which is 10 courses ($105). Beverage pairings can be added for an additional $125.
On the edible tour of city history, the reversal of the Chicago River in 1885 is captured in a carrot consommé, prepared in a siphon vacuum that is heated and poured over a piece of bass. The city’s rich architectural history is translated into a trio of partridge preparations, each of which pays homage to a famous architect’s design style. The Great Chicago Fire is recreated with, well, fire over a piece of ash-roasted venison.
Dinner concludes with a whimsical tribute to Chicago’s deep ties to candy making. Some of the most beloved and popular sweets got their start in this fair city, and executive chef Thomas Lents and his team recreated them to match the sophisticated menu. A sweet amuse is modeled after the Lemonhead, filled with Meyer lemon. The Snickers bar gets a modernist twist as a chocolate block filled with peanut financier, honey and salted caramel.
Much of the menu, along with the beverage pairings, relies on local ingredients. Domestic wines and spirits shine, from Chicago beer to even a cocktail made with Letherbee Malört. The scenic view of the Wrigley Building and Chicago River from the 16th floor only drives home the theme.
The new menu is not the only fresh feature in the kitchen. After the departure of executive pastry chef Patrick Fahy, the restaurant announced the appointment of Aya Fukai. Fukai, who previously oversaw the pastry program at Ria and Balsan at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, will take charge of the pastry program for the restaurant and hotel. She'll transition into the position over the next month and start debuting her own desserts on Sixteen’s spring menu.