Restaurants / Openings

A First Look at Crown Block — Reunion Tower’s Glitzy New Sky-High Restaurant

The 360-Degree Steak and Seafood Concept Debuts on April 17

BY // 04.03.23
photography Bill Milne

When Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck shuttered at the top of Dallas’ Reunion Tower in 2020 (after 11 years in business), the hunt for a new sky-high concept with 360-degree views began. And after three years of eagerly anticipating what would take the iconic spot’s place, we learned that husband-and-wife business partners Elizabeth Blau and chef Kim Canteenwalla would open Crown Block. The couple is looking to change things up in the Dallas icon with their new steak and seafood concept, opening on April 17, 2023.

For one, the 18th floor will no longer spin. No more getting lost trying to find the bathroom. And, after we visited the new space and tasted some of the dishes, we can relay that the food is not at all the usual steakhouse fare. It’s exciting and unexpected, but more on that in a bit…

 

Crown Block (Photo by Bill Milne)
Crown Block officially debuts at Reunion Tower on April 17. (Photo by Bill Milne)

How Crown Block Came to Be

Blau + Associates was not originally supposed to be the team opening a restaurant in Reunion Tower. According to Hunt Realty Investments Associate Tyler Kleinert, Blau was brought on to consult and find a new concept for the space.

“We asked ‘What does the tower mean?’,” Kleinert tells PaperCity. “We really wanted to find the right concept and so we explored the identity of the tower.” After several discussions about their shared vision, Hunt Realty asked if Blau and Canteenwalla would like to create the restaurant themselves.

“The idea just kept growing and it will keep growing,” says Canteenwalla as we tour the space.

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Based in Las Vegas, Blau + Associates has more than 30 years of experience with concepts all over the world like the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center (reopening the New York City classic in 2014), restaurant portfolios at Vegas’ Bellagio and Wynn, and their own spots, including Honey Salt. But they do have previous experience in Dallas.

“We’ve worked with Del Frisco’s, Virgin Hotels Dallas, and Legends Hospitality, ” says Blau. She and Canteenwalla’s son just started at SMU and they’ve rented an apartment in the city. “We wanted to make Dallas home too,” she adds.

 

Crown Block Dallas
Crown Block is set to open at Reunion Tower on April 17. (Rendering courtesy of Cober Koeda)

The Design

A “crown block” is the highest part of an oil rig, hence the name of the sky-high spot. Designed by Dallas-based Cober Koeda, the Reunion Tower restaurant has several subtle nods to Dallas’ oil background. When you first get off the elevator, you’ll notice that there is a large bar and lounge area situated behind two open-kitchen prep areas. One is for seafood, salads, and sushi, while the other is for desserts. The space has been transformed with warmer, neutral blues, greens, and brown woods — reminiscent of Texas’ landscape.

Blau says that she likes to think of it as hosting dinner in her “living room in the sky.” Compared to Five Sixty, the space feels much more open and airy. A few art pieces will be displayed on the walls, including works from Texas artists Alejandro Luna (founder of Night Owl Fabrication) and Kristy Darnell Battani (mixed media), along with New Mexico-based William T. Carson, who works in the medium of coal.

The Reunion Tower’s 18th-floor restaurant will still be a place of celebration and fine dining, but with a homier feel and a more approachable menu.

 

Crown Block (Photo by Bill Milne)
Meats at Crown Block are sourced from local ranches. (Photo by Bill Milne)

The Menu

The dinner menu is expansive, but we got to try quite a few dishes to help you on your first visit.

First off, the wine program and cocktail menu is something to be excited about. The giant wine fridge on display at the entrance of the restaurant remains from Five Sixty and will boast California, Old World, and some personal favorites of Canteenwalla.

One of the delicious cocktails that we tried is the Crown Blockberry — a tequila, cointreu, lime, blackberry, and aquafaba mixture. The Moontower was also a refreshing mix of Monkey47 gin, St. Germain, lime juice, basil, and cucumber. We’re also looking forward to the Crown Block’s mixologist’s signature cocktail — a Balcones Pot Still Bourbon-based Midnight Rambler.

Crown Block (Photo by Bill Milne)
Led by sushi chef Intae “Ian” Kim (Nobu, Uchi), sushi is a must-try at Crown Block (Photo by Bill Milne)

Steaks are sourced from local ranches like the Rosewood Ranch Bone-In Strip Steak, Heartbrand Akaushi Striploin, and an Allen Brothers cowgirl steak. Another favorite entree we tasted was the salmon steak with a crab cake in the middle of it.

Led by sushi chef Intae “Ian” Kim (Nobu, Uchi), Japanese cuisine is a must-try at Crown Block. We loved the Avocado Crunch Roll with mango, Salmon Aburi, Yellowtail Crudo, and Fuji Tuna Roll with pickled Fuji apple.

Some more unique items on the menu include mac and cheese made in a waffle iron that manages to be crunchy and gooey all at once. (Blau explains that she saw it on TikTok.) There’s also a vegan cauliflower steak, giant steak fries baked three times, and caviar with blue corn pancakes.

As for desserts, there are several indulgent options. Out of the Basque-Style Cheesecake, Sticky Fingers Bourbon Cake, “Tweed” Espresso Semifreddo, and Society Cake, the massive twelve-tier cake was our favorite. Of course, all were delicious, but the stunning rectangular slice of Society Cake featuring chocolate and banana cakes, caramelized bananas, milk chocolate mousse, dark chocolate glaze, and gold leaf was most memorable.

 

Crown Block (Photo by Bill Milne)
One of the must-try desserts at Crown Block is the Creme Brûlée Donut Holes. (Photo by Bill Milne)

The Experience

Embracing Texas hospitality, Blau says that there will be a Ranch Water welcome cocktail before you get on the elevator, which now offers stellar views through a glass window, to go up to the restaurant.

There will also be a complimentary bread service at the beginning of each meal. Japanese milk bread with asiago, white cheddar, and caramelized onions is paired with whipped butter and black lava salt, as well as pimento dip. Trust me, it’s delicious.

It’s strange, but the fact that the space won’t spin anymore makes a huge difference. It gives you a chance to embrace the views of downtown Dallas. And for those who do prefer to spin again, the 17th-floor private event area will give guests the option.

You can now book a reservation on OpenTable.

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