I wish my review could be stellar and say I’ve never had a better experience at a fine dining restaurant, but unfortunately, I intend to give an honest critique.
I really can not say anything discouraging about the food. It was great, it even could be considered some of the best I’ve had. But a fine dining experience is not just about the food but the entire experience. The experience is what sets certain restaurants apart from the pack.
My first disappointment was related to beverages. Five Sixty is an Asian Fusion restaurant which specializes in sushi, so I was really looking forward to some good sake. However they only offered two options. Two options?! And neither of the two sakes listed were dry, both were considered on the sweet side. Personally I like my sake very cold and very dry, so sake was out for me. They did have a great cocktail list and the wine list was extensive, so if you don’t care for sake then it may not be that big of a deal for you.
My second disappointment was related to the pace. We wanted to have the full experience of the restaurant so we chose the “tasting menu” which includes seven tasting courses. These are supposed to be very small portioned selections which should come to the table at a fairly quick pace. Because of our selection, we anticipated being at the restaurant for about 2 hours, maybe 2.5 at a leisurely pace. Unfortunately it took almost four hours. The initial greeting to our table was delayed (around 15 minutes) and it took some time to get our cocktails. Then there was a longer pause than expected between each course.
We both started with cocktails which were lovely. Marc had the Samurai Sword and I had the Xiang Li Fragrant Pear. We got a chuckle from the waiter who informed us the Samurai Sword included “hand chiseled iceberg ice”. Marc’s comment was, “I can’t drink this, I would be contributing to the global warming crisis!” He did in fact drink it, and did enjoy it very much.
Our first course was the Spicy Tuna Tartar in a Miso Sesame Cone. Basically it was tuna tartar wrapped in a cone and it was super! The tuna tasted very fresh (as one would expect) and the cone added a slightly sweet and salty crunch.
The second course was the Crisp Suckling Pig. It was very good, but I did not note down anything specific to this course.
For our third tasting we tried the Saki and Seaweed Cured Sebring Fish. I had never heard of a “Sebring” fish so I asked our waiter who commented it was from the family of sea bass. I even “Googled” the name and was not able to find the appropriate fish, so I’m not sure about the facts. It was served sashimi style on top of a warm cherry tomato. It was good, but I felt the strong tomato flavor overpowered the lightness of the fish.
For the fourth course they served a Dim Sum platter which was amazing. I feel the appetizers at the restaurant are their best signature. (But I have to caveat my comment by saying on this trip we did not have the sushi. We love sushi but it was not offered as part of the tasting menu.) The tray included (from right to left) Organic Chicken Dumplings, Maryland Style Crab Cake, Maine Lobster and Shrimp Spring Rolls, Shrimp Dumplings and Pork Belly Pot Stickers.
The fifth course was Seabass with Wok Vegis and Jalapenos. On the upside, the waiter explained each tasting menu is tailored to the patrons. In our case, once they figured out we like hot and spicy, I think they just added extra spice to everything from that point forward. This fish was very light and buttery with a slight kick from the jalapenos. We enjoyed it very much, but the portion on this offering was very large.
Next we had the General Tao Quail with an extra spicy sauce. This was my favorite item of the night.
For the seventh course, we were expecting desert, because usually the desert is included in the course listing, however we received very large portioned New York Strip Steaks. They were delicious, but at this point, we were so full, it was difficult to eat more than just a couple of bites, let alone almost a whole steak. But it was prepared beautifully and tasted wonderful.
Lastly we were offered the White Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sorbet. The “cake” looked like a square of cheesecake or maybe even moose. The texture was thicker than a moose but lighter than a cheesecake, so how it was made is a mystery to me. It was delightful and not too intense for a tasting menu. A tasting menu definitely requires something light and not overly sweet.
My last concern about my experience at Five Sixty was the “sticker shock”. My husband and I are “foodies” and going out to a nice dinner is our favorite pastime. So it is not often we are surprised by the cost of a dinner bill. If you go out to dinner at a restaurant of this caliber, you can expect to pay usually around $200-$250. On this night we did not even include a bottle of wine and our bill was a whopping $450. Luckily for us, a portion of the price was paid by a gift card which was given to us to try this place. I think the primary issue is due to their location in Reunion Tower which is a tourist destination. For those who are not familiar with Reunion Tower in Downtown Dallas, the restaurant is one of those “rotating” venues. The whole ball is made of windows and the restaurant slowly rotates as you eat so that in 1.5 hours you have seen the entire 360 view of Dallas. I’m sure a location like this comes at a price.
For comparison’s purpose, here are some examples of prices for similar items from very fine restaurants in Dallas that are NOT tourist destinations:
Cocktails at Five Sixty: $16
Cocktails at III Forks: $12
Seven Course Tasting at Five Sixty: $135
Eight Course Tasting at Abacus: $95
Sampling of Tasting Courses from The French Room, The Mansion and others: $95-$110
So all in all, the price does add up and with all the other “minor” issues, Five Sixty did not establish itself as my new favorite in Dallas. I’ll leave this one for the tourists and head to my favorite sushi place Sushi Sake and drink from among their listing of 30 or so sakes.