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Inside Fort Worth’s New Fine Dining Sanctuary

With Fort Worth’s new Crescent Hotel up and running with Museum District visitors flocking to its glass-enclosed Circle Bar and its Mediterranean restaurant Emilia’s, the next fabulous space in the hotel is set to open. The Blue Room at Emilia’s will open this Thursday, February 22 ― and PaperCity Fort Worth got an exclusive first l0ok and taste.

Hidden behind frosted glass doors, within Emilia’s, The Blue Room brings a more exclusive fine dining experience from executive chef Preston Paine. This includes a fresh fish of the day deboned tableside, an exquisite two-person rack of lamb carved tableside, traditional caviar service and over-the-top shellfish towers.

But let’s step inside The Blue Room.

The doors open to reveal a private enclave wrapped in custom plush blue wall coverings, massive and reflective round mirrors, and a wall of windows leading to The Crescent’s enclosed courtyard ― dressed with floor-to-ceiling sheers keeping the mood intimate and the space a private sanctuary. The Blue Room only has about 13 tables, seating a maximum of 50 diners, with a show-stopping custom chandelier hanging at its center.

The fine dining experience begins with a menu of unexpected hors d’oeuvres as The Blue Room veers from Emilia’s strict Mediterranean focus. Chef Paine put together these single-serving (mostly bite-sized) nibbles to be enjoyed alongside premium martinis shaken at the private bar inside the space.

The special cocktail menu inside The Blue Room at Emilia’s was developed by Jamel Taggart, who serves as director of food and beverage for the entire Crescent Hotel. The private bar’s menu is gin geared, but you can order your favorite cocktail from the hotel’s other menus or call your own spirits as well. The wine menu is filled with reserve wines and vintage champagne pours, personally selected by The Crescent’s in-house sommelier Joel Teddlie. After-dinner drinks include rare ports, as well as Amara, Armagnac, Calvados and limoncello.

The Blue Room at Emilia’s Food

The single serving hors d’oeuvres include uni toast ― a lardo-dipped brioche bite toasted to perfection on all sides, topped with jalapeno and pineapple jam, and draped with buttery uni (highly prized sea urchin roe). The cone-shaped everything bagel and lox is another one-bite wonder, filled with avocado mousse and a topknot of house-cured salmon. The East Coast oyster is served in its shell, grilled in warm chowder, topped with crushed oyster crackers and dotted with celery oil.

Moving on to the appetizers, we enjoyed a simple butter lettuce salad that showed restraint and allowed the well-sourced ingredients to shine. It was tossed in the lightest vinaigrette, and topped with grated goat cheese and a few well-placed herbs. Likewise, the Wagyu tartare topped with a quail egg was a generous portion served with grilled focaccia, allowing the superior ingredients to speak for themselves.

The main courses include a slightly upgraded version of the delicious bolognese you’ll find on Emilia’s menu, this one made with Wagyu beef. There are also seared scallops atop celery root puree and a lovely rack of lamb which is carved tableside. The lobster fra diavolo pasta, described as slightly spicy, is served with a whole lobster. Diners have the option to add uni, caviar, or truffles as enhancements to their dishes.

On the preview night that PaperCity visited, the steak was a Denver cut Wagyu served with a pressed and layered potato pavet, yielding crispy edges and a tender center. The other side was a surprising grilled cabbage. The Dover sole is deboned and plated tableside. It is served with a tangy meuniere sauce with plenty of lemon, parsley and capers.

The menu at The Blue Room at Emilia’s will shift seasonally. For dessert, we were treated to the last of a special Valentine’s dessert. The molded berry panna cotta was light as air, plated in its rich berry reduction with clouds of whipped cream. I hope it finds a permanent place on The Blue Room menu.

A True Private Sanctuary in Fort Worth

Chef Preston Paine began his career in fine dining at the storied Eleven Madison Park in New York City. Over an after-dinner drink, he recounted harrowing tales of starting out surrounded by dozens of hopeful chefs who waited by the back door of similar renowned New York City restaurants day after day ― their knives in tow  — in the hopes of just getting their foot in the door. Just for the chance to simply polish silverware or prep vegetables on their way up the rarified food chain.

Much like it’s shown in The Bear, fine dining experience is hard to come by and not for the faint of heart.

With the opening of this exclusive new space, Paine is planning some memorable chef collaborations as well as wine and spirit pairings this spring. Already set for The Blue Room at Emilia’s are:

— March 26 and 27, an eight-course collaboration menu with noted Oklahoma City restaurant Nonesuch.

– April, celebrated Dallas chef Dean Fearing joins The Blue Room at Emilia’s bringing his Southwest style to The Crescent.

– May, a special dinner is being planned, featuring a voyage of fine Napa Valley wines from Opus One Winery.

The Blue Room will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays Reservations are now open on Resy for dinners starting this Thursday, February 22.