No one we know of in Chicago is doing more beautiful food than Thomas Lents, the new chef of Sixteen in the Trump International Hotel & Towers. And that was the conclusion we drew from the winter menu; now that spring with all its colors and variety is here, we expect his food to be even more gorgeous. But beyond the sheer painterliness of his exquisitely composed plates, Lents is a master of simple yet forceful flavors, reminiscent of Charlie Trotter in the way that he seems to make you taste something, truly taste it, for the first time. Having worked around the world, most recently as Joel Robuchon's first American chef de cuisine ever in Las Vegas, Lents is not exactly a locavore "We're an international restaurant, we draw from all over the world," he says but he is deeply dedicated to finding things at their seasonal peak, and he has an arsenal of suppliers around the world whose quality through the seasons he knows well. And as spring comes to the midwest, much of our region's best is making its appearance on his menu now (yes, there are ramps and asparagus). Our man Huge Galdones got a first look at some of the new dishes now available on Sixteen's menu.
Tempura soft shell crab, avocado mousse, tatsoi and spiced cabbage.
Roasted Amish chicken breast with ragout of sunchoke, spring onion and confit leg, bacon and armagnac fig sauce.
Rushing Water's rainbow brook trout with marble potatoes, choucroute garnie, and whole grain mustard sauce.
Vintage carnaroli risotto with ragout of clams, frog legs, escargot, and morels with a light spring garlic spuma.
Roasted Maine Lobster, with green and white asparagus, truffle sabayon, and a light asparagus jus.
Four Story Hills Farm poussin and New Zealand langoustines, with ramps, artichokes "en barigoule," and first of the season morels
Fresh coriander scented spring lamb with melange of spring onions, fava beans, fiddlehead ferns and green almonds with a coriander lemon cloud.
Chef Thomas Lents.
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