not since its glitzy dandelion puff of lights led off each wildly anticipated episode of the eighties television drama Dallas has Reunion Tower radiated as much glamour. And how could it not? Over the past year, the building was transformed by a multimillion-dollar makeover; its restaurant was given a new name and taken over by America’s favorite chef-inator, Wolfgang Puck; and its image was buffed and bally-hooed by an over-the-top PR blitz. As a result, newly minted Five Sixty—formerly Antares—is the place to be on a Saturday night in Big D.
At least that’s what it seemed to my friends and me as we elbowed our way to the elevators through crowds that reminded us of peasants storming Frankenstein’s castle (although in a better mood and much better dressed). Will the Tower’s glam status last longer than it takes the curious to go once and take pictures of themselves with their cell phones? Only time will tell, but for now I have no hesitation in saying, “It’s baaaaccccck!”
The Wolfman isn’t in the kitchen, of course (although he did make an appearance at the grand opening, in February, dutifully gushing, “I llllluv Dahhlass!” as one blogger put it). But he has dispatched one of his most trusted associates, 32-year-old Sara Johannes, to hold down the fort. And hold it she does. As you might expect from her résumé, she has imported the eclectic, exotic Asian spirit of Puck’s Chinois concept, which was the theme at her previous Puck restaurant, 20.21, in Minneapolis. A case in point is Five Sixty’s wonderful, crisp-tender curried Assam prawns. Named for an Indian state known for its use of mustard seeds, the dish showcases two kinds—the familiar yellow and the hotter, nuttier brown—in a complex yogurt-based sauce. Johannes rounds out the flavors with a sharp splash of Dijon and whole-grain mustards and toasty, herbal fenugreek seeds.
Leapfrogging across Asia, the menu stops in China for a very different entrée: grilled Colorado lamb with Hunan eggplant. The two double chops first get deliciously slapped around by a marinade of soy sauce and sweet rice wine. Then they’re given a turn on a hot grill that leaves the interior pretty and pink but gives the exterior an ebony crust (although ours were almost too charred). Alongside comes a silver pot of sliced glazed eggplant—soft, oozing oil, but delicious.
Crafted by pastry chef Isla Vargas, desserts take a 180-degree turn and head west for a sophisticated approach to crowd-pleasers like banana cream pie (with brûléed banana), chocolate soufflés, and our table’s hands-down favorite, baked Alaska. A wowza revival of a sixties and seventies classic, it consists of a puck (sorry, I couldn’t resist) of white chocolate—buttermilk cake topped by ginger ice cream, covered in meringue, and quick-baked to create the ultimate big-night treat. Is it frivolous? Is it over the top? Absolutely. But that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? I mean, you’re in a rotating restaurant watching the Dallas skyline float by from fifty stories up. If that isn’t the time for a little glitz and glamour, I don’t know what is. Bar. Reunion Tower, 300 Reunion Blvd (214-741-5560). Dinner Tue—Thur 5—10, Fri & Sat 5—11. Brunch Sun 11:30—2:30. Closed Mon. $$$—$$$$ W+