Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Chicago: Sixteen - Tasting

Winter Menu 2015
Food in Progress
Modern Fine Dining: Moving Forward with Respect to the Past

Started off with a glass of NV Cattier 'Brut Antique' Premier Cru, Champagne, France

Snacks: In Search of "New": Cuisines: The Emergence of the Nordic

Buckwheat and rutabaga blini with peppered mackerel and radish

Marinated cuttlefish with beet, sea weeds, and trout roe

Smoked oyster,  potato gel, and horseadish

King crab with carrot, sea buckthorn, and dill

Amuse Bouche: The Remains of a Spanish Movement: Flavors Left From a Technical

Langoustine in its shell, chorizo, pine nut and citrus

First Course
Variations of onion, cipollini petals and caramelized jus with bacon, sourdough, and cultured butter

Bread and butter pairing: Ciabetta? with goat's milk butter

A Gift: The Humility of Broth: A Pursuit of the Purity of Flavor
Scallop in its shell with salt roasted kohlrabi and a scallop truffle dashi

Second Course: Mining Traditions: What is Old is New Again
Grilled lobster on rice with uni and coffee

Bread and butter pairing: Washington beer bread with cow's milk from Normandy

A Gift: Whole Animal Conservation: Nose to Tail Fine Dining

Bone marrow custard with cornered veal and flavors and gribiche

Deviled kidneys with parsley root and foam

Veal tongue blanquette

Black Truffle Pilsner

Main Course: A New Fusion: Forward Thinking with Respect for Tradition

Fallow venison with funnel, red fruits, farro, and butter milk with a hibiscus and current jus

Bread and butter pairing: Pretzel and goat milk

2nd service Venison cheek with fourchette sweet potato and green curry coco blanc

Quadrello di Butala, Pecorino Foglie DiNoce, Pecorino Ginepro, L'Amuse Brabander Goat Gouda


Pineapple, celery, and mint granite

Mango, quark, and chocolate gateau

Papaya and guava spritzer
White chocolate and ginger namelaka with blood orange

Final Course
Chocolate cake with pecan, coconut, and kaffir lime


I don't say this too often but Sixteen is operating on a totally different level and it's a serious contender for a third Michelin star. I didn't have high expectations when arriving but at the end of the meal, I was literally speechless. One of the highlights of the meal wasn't even a course. It was...


Since I live in "Craft Beer Capital of America", my server was kind enough to give me a sample of a $120 bottle of beer, Moody Tongue's Black Truffle Pilsner.
It was amazing. I'm actually considering ordering this the next time I'm here.

The second highlight was the bread and butter paring. Normally, bread is served at the beginning of the meal and the butter is often overlooked. At Sixteen, the various cow and goat milk butters that were served complimented the bread paring perfectly. 
Overall, I feel the courses were aligned for a two-Michelin star establishment. What makes Chef Lents stand out in Chicago is he's creating his own lane. For example, when I dine at Alinea, I see elBulli. At Grace, I see Alinea. While their dishes are different, the influence is obvious. At Sixteen, I assume I will get the French Laundry or Joel Robuchon but I was completely wrong. The influences are from all over the place. This is refreshing because I feel that I won't experience the same courses season after season. It sort of forces you to want to come here every season to experience a total different menu. 
Will Sixteen ever get a third star? I think so. It's going to come down to service and decor. Of all of the 3-starred Michelin restaurants that I've been to around the world, most had great spaces with high-end furnishings and amazing interiors. I joke about this but a 3-star Michelin restaurant feels like you need a 781 credit score to walk into the door.

Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago
401 N. Wabash Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Chicago: Sixteen

Amuse Bouche

Pretzel and Ciabetta

Lobster salad

Roast Halibut, Celeriac, Chestnuts and Sauce Vin Jaune

Mango, quark, and chocolate gataeu

I was in town attending a conference so I had a short amount of time to take lunch. Initially, I wanted to try the 6-course lunch tasting but my server told me it was a two-hour experience. I decided that if I wanted to do Sixteen justice, I really needed to come back for their dinner menu. While their lunch menu was very reasonably priced and had a decent menu, Sixteen is best experienced by its dinner menu. The atmosphere, menu and overall service is definitely different and well deserving of its Michelin stars.

Here's a spoiler: The bread and butter pairing was top notch. The last time I had a bread pairing was at Guy Savoy in 2010.

Below is a preview of the Winter 2015 dinner menu I experienced on the same day.

Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago
401 N. Wabash Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Chicago: Girl & the Goat

Crispy Beef Short Ribs
Avocado, Ruby red grapefruit, chermoula
Chickpea Fritter
Garam masala. Romanesco, Rosemary-tamarind, Yogurt, Sev. Green mango
Seared Diver Scallops
Ginger-chili aioli, Shiitake, Sea beans, Braised peanuts
Goat Empanadas
Huacatay, Grilled mushroom giardiniera, Queso fresco

Confit Goat Belly
Bourbon butter, Lobster n' crab, Fennel

Escargot Ravioli
Bacon, Tamarind-miso sauce
Miso-Butterscotch Budino
Bacon toffee, Glazed pineapple, Candied cashews
Girl & the Goat opened in 2010 and whenever I'm in town, I've always failed to secure a reservation here (it's that popular!). This was my second time dining here and it never disappoints. I like the unpretentious vibe and its location in the West Loop is near other fine restaurants like Grace and Avec. I look forward to Chef Izard's future projects and I hope one day she receives the coveted Michelin star.
Girl & the Goat
809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607