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First Look: The Fantastical World of Barton G LA

By Lesley Balla
June 23, 2014

The Gist: Saying Barton G. is whimsical barely scratches the surface. From the table settings to the liquid nitrogen everything to the towering four-foot-tall fork that's part of your "plate," it's really difficult to say what outdoes what at the new West Hollywood restaurant. Miami restaurateur Barton G. Weiss is known for theatrics — he's created thousands of big bombastic events, converted the Versace mansion in Miami to a boutique hotel and restaurant, and penned a superlative-heavy cookbook, The Big Dish: Recipes to Dazzle and Amaze from America's Most Spectacular Restaurant. Subtlety is not his forte.

The Food: Everything is big here — literally. You might find a two-foot popcorn machine on your table or almost three feet of cotton candy swirling atop a mannequin head. Even shrimp skewers are served in a 10-inch glass with blades of grass (and a lot of liquid nitrogen). Everything has height, which is probably supposed to "dazzle and amaze." Seeing some of these dishes enter a room causes "oohs" and "aaahs" from everyone, even the servers. Seeing your dinner companions across the table is another story. Once you get past the crazy get-ups, it's mostly familiar comfort-food dishes with a twist; it's all recognizable. It's also edible, which is surprising given how much emphasis is given on presentation and flash. If there's one restaurant getting away from the tired artisanal, market-friendly monikers, it's this one.

The Space: Situated right next to Nobu on La Cienega Boulevard, Barton G is everything opposite of Zen and minimalist. The napkins are shaped like little chef coats, resting on silver platters waiting for your plates. There's almost too much on the table, so when you sit down, you wonder where they'll put the food. It gets even crazier when you see how things are plated. The design is a mishmash of whimsy with golden chandeliers, draping curtains and pink lights. It's a room that screams for a party, which is what they're after. This is not really a quiet, solo-diner kind of place.

The Details: The restaurant is located at 861 N. La Cienega Blvd., and opens nightly at 6 PM. Call 310-388-1888 for reservations.

Take a look at some of the most extreme dishes and drinks served at Barton G. We're pretty sure this is just the beginning of the whimsy.

  • The only way to kick off an obviously understated meal is with a liquid nitrogen cocktail. The're all made with it; the mirrored tray and accoutrements are the only thing that makes each different. The Buddhalicious is made with litchi and cranberry juice. The server pours in the liquid nitrogen at the table, and you stir in a nitrogenized pear-vodka popsicle to make it boozy. 

  • Taking "popcorn shrimp" to its most literal heights, the heavily spiced fried shrimp are tossed with fresh-popped popcorn and served in this kitschy popcorn machine. It doesn't pop at the table, but you do get to turn the handle to watch it fall into a basket. 

  • The popcorn shrimp comes with two kinds of dipping sauce, but you may have to pick out pieces of popcorn before you get to use them.

  • The Voodoo Shrimp is served in a towering glass that gets a shot of liquid nitrogen (!) for added effect. We guess it's supposed to be spooky? The voodoo dolls that grace this display didn't arrive yet for our photographs, but we hope you're allowed to take them home. 

  • Without the flash, the sesame-studded, eggroll-wrapped shrimp look almost mundane.

  • For extra flash, the Diamonds Are Forever cocktail is made with, you guessed it, vodka. It's like a glorified lemon drop with a citrus-vodka popsicle, lots of liquid nitro and a very glitzy serving tray.

  • It takes a few people to deliver "The Great American Filet" to the table. The prime steak, marrow bone, braised oxtail and jus, plus fried potato wedges, carrots and asparagus comes out on an incredibly heavy butcher block with a giant fork sticking out of the back of it. It's a feat of modern engineering, that's for sure. We can't wait to see the size of the dishwasher for that fork.

  • A close-up of the steak, with vegetables that look fresh and bright; the potato wedges a good golden brown. That jus carafe is a bit twee, but why stop at a four-foot silver fork?

  • For one dessert, cotton candy is masterfully and artfully twirled to insane heights on the top of a mannequin head. But that's not even the main dessert. Along her neckline you'll find little strawberry shortcakes, more berries and whipped cream. Enough of those liquid nitrogen cocktails, and you may leave wearing that cotton candy headdress. We don't condone this, but it's bound to happen. 

  • How could they serve something as mundane as a pizza? Because it's not a pizza, it's a s'mores pie — piped meringue “crust,” strawberry jelly sauce, agar "onion rings" and white chocolate “cheese" — uncannily made to look like a whole pizza, complete with to-go box. 

  • Oozing more sugar than you could handle.

  • This liquid nitro cocktail is only worth getting for the dangling chocolate monkey.

  • This massively springy chicken sculpture is bolted to a platter that's covered with a cracked ostrich-sized white-chocolate egg and a smaller dark-chocolate version, both filled with chocolate fudge cake, whipped cream and more. Barton G corporate chef Luis Vasquez explains that they often find the vessel first, and then he and Weiss create a dish around it. So in this case, yes, the chicken did come before the egg(s).

  • It's all edible, right down to the kataifi "nest."

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