Crown Block is finally open in Reunion Tower, but reservations for the first three months are already nearly impossible to come by, with D magazine reporting that 10,000 tables have been booked already.
Eater Dallas asked chef Kim Canteenwalla to take us inside the dishes at Big D’s newest destination restaurant in a historic location. He told us the inside scoop on some of his favorite things on the menu, and along with his wife and Blau Associates co-owner Elizabeth Blau, explained how Texas is woven into the menu, as well as the restaurant itself. The pair own several restaurants in Las Vegas and Vancouver and have exported some of the more popular dishes to the Texas menu. Working with local farmers, ranchers, brewers, and vintners was a priority for the duo. They wanted to deeply understand how Texas does things and to bring those methods and tastes into what they already do so well.
“Going to Heartbrand [in Flatonia], 44 Farms [in Cameron], and Rosewood Farms [in Ennis], it was incredible to see the care for the animals and the approaches to regenerative farming,” Blau says, and goes on to detail visiting Hill Country to taste test wines and barbecue, as well as a slew of Dallas steakhouses to see what resonates in the city.
Read on for a preview of what diners will enjoy when their reservation finally comes up.
C.B. Texas-Style Hot Seafood Boil
“In the cold station, we have the chilled seafood on ice, but we do a hot version also. It isn’t a cioppino or a bouillabaisse, but it’s along that degree. It’s served with a seafood and tomato broth, and it’s got Alaskan king crab, scallops, jumbo prawns, Maine lobster, mussels, and it’s got a little Texas heat to it. So it’s the hot version of the chilled seafood. We add fingerling potatoes, and you have grilled sourdough to dip in and get your broth,” Canteenwalla says.
“Both sushi chef Intae Kim and I love this dish because the ingredients respect and enhance the sweet richness of the yellowtail,” Canteenwalla says. “The aquachile and cilantro provide a bold sharpness, whereas the watermelon radish and avocado cream balance each other out with a crisp and creamy texture. It’s then drizzled with olive oil to finish it off.”
Mac & Cheese Waffle
“Sometimes anxiety makes it hard for me to sleep, and that’s when TikTok sends me down crazy rabbit holes,” Blau says. “One was a ridiculous video about what not to do with your waffle iron, and one of the things they put in it was Kraft macaroni and cheese — and it looked delicious. I thought we could take our five-cheese homemade mac and cheese and do it. It required so much recipe development because it literally blew up the waffle iron because the cheese all melted and got into it. After a great bit of trial and error by the culinary team, they persevered, and it’s better than ever in Dallas. It has the part I love in mac and cheese, where the top gets crispy, while the inside is cheesy and Kim made this beautiful cheese sauce that’s a jalapeno fondue to dip it in or pour on top of it.”
“When Elizabeth mentioned doing this in a waffle-maker, I told her it was insane,” Canteenwalla says, and Blau interrupts to say that was the G-rated version of his response. “Then I remembered years before, I made a potato waffle with a little batter and chives that I would serve with caviar. So I said we’d try it — it was painful. You can’t believe how many waffle irons we went through.”
“Do not try this at home. Waffle irons are not made for mac and cheese,” Blau says with a laugh.
Bone-In Filet Mignon (14 oz) and Triple-Cooked Fries
“Our steak program offers tiers of steak, from Nebraska to Japan to Texas, including local beef from Heartbrand, 44 Farms, and Rosewood Farms in Ennis,” Canteenwalla says. “Myself, I love a steak with the bone in because it enhances the meat even further with flavor, and it grills nicely. We have an 1100-degree, infrared broiler which gives our steaks a caramelization char. This bone-in filet is different than most because of the way we plate it.
“Triple-cooked fries go through a process after they’re hand-cut where you first put them in a brine for eight hours in the walk-in fridge. Then they’re pulled out, steaming them in the quick blanche so the fries are nowhere near cooked. Then it’s back into the walk-in for another eight hours. And then it goes into a fryer at a low temperature, then in the freezer. When we get an order, we take them out of the freezer and cook them at 350 degrees. The fries get a crispy exterior and the inside is like a mashed potato or a souffle. We serve it with a truffle aioli and a squeeze bottle of ketchup.”
“Banana and dark chocolate have always been one of my favorite combinations,” Canteenwalla says. “The Society Cake has become a signature dessert for the Blau Group of restaurants. Honey Salt in Las Vegas and Honey Salt in Vancouver also have versions of this cake, but each version has its own special feel.”
“This cake is challenging because of its many layers of chocolate cake, banana caramel, milk chocolate mousse, banana cake, and repeat, all topped with a dark chocolate glaze and 24-carat gold leaf,” says Crown Block pastry chef Lizbeth Ramirez. “Building it is a unique task because we need to make sure everything is measured properly, and cutting it is difficult due to its height. We have to use two metal frames on top of each other as well as a hot knife to make the dimensions so precise.”