Veteran Chicago Reader restaurant critic Mike Sula delivered a scathing review of Terrace 16, the new restaurant inside Trump International Hotel & Tower in River North. The food prices, while lower than Sixteen — the Michelin-starred restaurant that Terrace 16 replaced — don’t provide good value for Sula, who ripped the $28 burger and more. But the review covered more than food and service as Sula described his conflict reviewing a Donald Trump-owned restaurant in writing the president is “a proven liar, unrepentant racist, and admitted sex offender.”
Many food critics across America struggle with reviewing Donald Trump’s restaurants and referring to the president’s racist and sexist comments. That goes double in Chicago, one of the bluest parts of the country, a city that Trump constantly picks on when it comes to gun violence. However, one local food writer wrote that writers should suck it up.
The politics — whether it’s restrictive immigration policies or a push toward higher wages — affect the food industry. Sula’s review is a manifestation of those frustrations as he writes “[t]he terrace was mostly full on the warm summer evenings as I ascended the city’s Barad-dûr, the elevator opening on the 16th floor, just behind the Eye of Sauron.”
Policy and comments aside, the food failed to impress Sula. The food suffers from being under-seasoned: “This whole breastbird comes with a bowl of creamy al dente fingerling potato salad that — like the chicken, and the burger, and the pasta — has been denied the assistance of salt.” The Chicago Mix, an expensive take on Garrett’s Popcorn’s famous snack, falls flat from “stale caramel and buttered puffed kernels.” It’s style over substance here: “One gets the sense that everyone has come just to be in the space rather than to seek out [chef Nick] Dostal’s food.” Sula did, however, enjoy the bread service.
Sixteen closed in part because business suffered after Trump’s election. The restaurant’s employees say they’re not making a political statement by working at the restaurant. But for Sula, there’s no need for locals to wonder what’s going on inside the skyscraper: “The only thing Chicagoans on the ground are missing is the spectacular view from occupied territory.”
- At Terrace 16 you can eat like Donald Trump does [Reader]
- Trump Tower Chicago’s New Lower-Priced Restaurant Opens Today [Eater Chicago]
- Trump hotel managers say food writers are giving the place the cold shoulder [Washington Post]
- MEET CHICAGO’S NEXT GREAT CHEF. WILL ANYONE TRY HIS FOOD? [Fooditor]
- What a DACA Repeal Would Mean for Restaurant Workers [Eater National]