Culture / Travel

Fort Worth’s Much-Anticipated Crescent Hotel Opens With a Showcase Restaurant With a Food Network Famous Chef — Your First Look at Emilia’s

The First Canyon Ranch Wellness Club Is Coming Soon Too

BY // 11.08.23

Fort Worth’s Cultural District is about to get hit with a double whammy of hotel luxury with The Crescent Hotel opening Wednesday and its nearby neighbor Bowie House set to debut this winter.

The first to open is Fort Worth’s very own The Crescent Hotel, with the first ever in-house Canyon Ranch Wellness Club, which is a new prototype for Crescent. The club will provide more wellness and a-la-carte treatments than Crescent’s individually tailored standalone retreats bring. And there might be more Canyon Ranch Wellness Clubs to come.

Crescent owner John Goff is even moving the headquarters of his Crescent Real Estate to Fort Worth. It is taking over the top floor of the adjacent, companion office tower, complete with its own cantilevered, covered patio and a dramatic view down Van Cliburn Way of both The Modern Art Museum and The Kimbell Art Museum.

This long-awaited first Fort Worth Crescent Hotel opens today and so does its coastal Mediterranean-inspired The Circle Bar, its restaurant Emilia’s and its upscale retreat dubbed The Blue Room.

The hotel’s restaurant is named in honor of Fort Worth’s Italian sister city Reggio Emilia and promises flavor profiles to match. Goff will be hosting the official ribbon cutting at 1 pm Wednesday, November 8 and Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker will welcome Luca Vecchi, the Mayor of Reggio Emilia, to town for the impressive debut of Emilia’s too.

Roasted artic char is a show stopper from chef Preston Paine at Emilia's.
This grilled fish of the day is a show stopper from chef Preston Paine at Emilia’s.

Emilia’s, The Circle Bar and the (finer dining) Blue Room are all helmed by executive chef Preston Paine. His sous chef is another notable Fort Worth name — Marcus Kopplin who most recently served as the chef de cuisine at Clay Pigeon. They’ll be busy, catering events as well as serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner for hotel guests and Cultural District visitors.

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“We are fortunate to have attracted world-class talent at Emilia’s and look forward to sharing their expertise and the Crescent’s beautiful dining room with our guests and the Fort Worth community,” Goff says in a statement.

The lobby bar at The Crescent is named for the Fort Worth Circle, which was a progressive art colony that started in the 1940s. So it’s appropriate as the hotel is surrounded by Fort Worth’s world famous museums. Its secluded Blue Room (more on that later) is a throwback nod to other famous upscale restaurants, known as much for their dramatic hue as their extravagant menus.

The five-story hotel and its dining have been brought to life by international design house Rottet Studio, so well-known in the hospitality sector. Austin’s Lone Star Court and Houston’s La Colombe d’Or Hotel are among their Texas projects. In-house dining at The Crescent was developed by AvroKO Hospitality Group.

As you enter the light-filled, glass-enclosed lobby, you are greeted by an angular, double-sided fireplace with a luxe Venetian plaster treatment. Then your eye is immediately drawn to the central enclosed green space beyond. The modern, 8,000-square-foot courtyard, with its striking 9-foot-tall Jose Dávila stone sculpture, will be one of the hotel’s most attractive spaces, hosting cocktail hours, gatherings of all kinds and even tented weddings.

Don’t miss the rest of the Crescent’s art collection either, as you stroll the lobby and grounds. It includes a stack of colorful arches from Mat Kleberg, a triptych of horse paintings by Andy Wohl and an abstract by Aaron Garber-Maikovska. And that’s just a few of the specially commissioned pieces in the collection.

What to Expect at Emilia’s

Emilia’s boasts a commanding wine wall, an active, open kitchen and is fitted with comfortable modern furnishings.

If Chef Paine looks familiar, you might recognize him from his time as a finalist on Food Network’s Ciao House. His international culinary experience along the Adriatic Sea is informing his new Emelia’s menu as well.

Just past Emelia's open kitchen is the Blue Room to the right, and the Circle Bar just beyond.
Just past Emelia’s open kitchen is the Blue Room to the right, and the Circle Bar just beyond.

In a recent interview with PaperCity Fort Worth, Chef Paine proved why he is the thinking man’s culinarian. Every ingredient has a reason for being added to the plate, and every technique is planned to highlight those ingredients to their fullest. You won’t find any showmanship for showmanship’s sake here. Paine is serious (if not obsessive) about his sourcing as well.

He’s crafting pasta made with Texas-sourced semolina, grilling fresh fish on Texas white oak and grilling steaks that his team has dry-aged in-house.

Charcuterie is being made in-house as well, and I was treated to a taste of the finer details. Like the seasoned Marcona almonds (you’ll be nibbling these at the bar as well), house-brined olives and delicious Texas lavender goat cheese, served with fresh focaccia.

“I look forward to bringing the bright and sunny flavors of the Mediterranean to Fort Worth,” Paine says. “At Emilia’s, I’m incorporating the techniques I learned from multi-generational chefs throughout my time competing on Ciao House to create a wide selection of authentic Coastal Mediterranean cuisine that will satisfy well-traveled visitors and culinary enthusiasts alike.

“The foresight, direction and passion Crescent and the Goff family have for the concept is truly inspiring, and I’m confident our guests and locals will feel that as soon as they enter the restaurant.”

Inside The Crescent Hotel’s Special Spaces

The Blue Room at Emilia’s will provide an elevated dining experience on the weekends with longer, more indulgent meals. The Blue Room is embraced by blue fabric wall treatments (which must be maintained and coifed with special grooming brushes) and has its own view of the courtyard too.

“A custom Brindisi Trolley invites guests to begin their experience in a special way with creative cocktails and paired tastes,” a release notes. “Guests can enjoy traditional caviar service and shellfish towers, and items like Wagyu beef tartar, creste de Gallo with blistered tomato and rock shrimp fra diavolo, and whole grilled fish served table side.”

Jamel Taggart, who serves as director of food and beverage, brings his more than 15 years of luxury restaurant experience to bear in The Circle Bar which flows from the lobby to the Emilia’s dining room.  The more relaxed atmosphere will serve seasonal crudités, an Emilia’s burger and dry-aged beef tartar.

Craft cocktails at Fort Worth's Crescent Hotel include the Negroni tinged Paper Plane.
Craft cocktails at Fort Worth’s Crescent Hotel include the Negroni tinged Paper Plane.

Hotel guests can enjoy fresh pastry and espresso in the morning, and wind down with afternoon aperitivos and cocktails. In addition to the selection of worldly wines, there are Taggart’s Mediterranean-inspired cocktails, including the Camp Boulevardier — an olive and herb martini, raspberry limoncello — and a thyme-infused gin and tonic.

The rooftop bar with its open-air vibe and spectacular perch overlooking Fort Worth’s dramatic Cultural District is called Ralph’s. It will be opening by January, adding even more luxe to The Crescent’s high design.

Reservations for stays at The Crescent Hotel Fort Worth, with its 200 guest rooms and 12 luxury suites, are available now. The Canyon Ranch Wellness Club is also set to open soon, another major perk for hotel guests who will have access to the state-of-the-art fitness center and the renowned spa, which will feature 10 treatment rooms and a salon.

Reservations for Emilia’s Restaurant are now available on Resy.

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