This week, I review Barton G., the restaurant transplant from Miami now open in Beverly Hills. In an attempt to make the dining experience "fun," Barton G.'s main enterprise is to present food in wacky dress-up. As much as I tried to express just how insane this is in the review itself, I think it's hard to clarify with words alone how Barton G. works.
This was brought home to me by an email I received after the review appeared online. "Do they really bring the toaster to the table?" a reader asked, referring to the lobster pop tarts, which are indeed served in a toaster on your table. But the (giant) toaster-on-the-table is, in fact, one of the least preposterous of the dishes served at Barton G. In an effort to give you a better understanding of what dining at this restaurant is really like, here are five dishes from our slideshow, explained.
5. The Rake and Ho salad, $18
As with many of the dishes at Barton G., it's hard to imagine how silly this salad is without getting an idea of the scale of the thing. The wheelbarrow in this photo looks pretty adorable, but it becomes a little more menacing when you realize that it's about as big as a microwave oven — big enough so that the waitress tosses and serves it with a regular-sized garden trowel and hand rake. Those are full-sized seed packets, for perspective. There's also all sorts of stuff that comes on the side: a terracotta pot full of extra quinoa; a watering can of salad dressing.
4. Samurai tuna, $32
That, my friends, is a full-sized sword. And it comes to your table and then stays there throughout your meal. Somewhat alarmingly, it is also removable, so theoretically you could pull it out of its tuna platform and use it for less hilarious things. Given the amount of drunkenness and anxiety this place produces, I'm not sure weapons are the smartest adornments, but what do I know?
3. Sabrinatini, $18
OK, not a dish, exactly, but still worth examination. A "martini" made with orange vodka and watermelon liqueur. That is a chocolate monkey hanging from the glass because, I don't know, maybe the drink itself isn't sweet enough? Who doesn't like a nice chocolate aperitif? And that thing poking out the top is a "nitro-Champagne swizzle stick," frozen with liquid nitrogen, which you're supposed to stir around in your drink, creating a kind of icy sludge. The nitro-stick creates the smoke, and is hazardous to your tongue because liquid nitrogen will burn you, so the reasoning behind giving it to drunk people is really well thought out, obviously.
2. Blooming sea bass, $36
Again, an issue of scale: That flower pot is full-sized and is plopped directly in front of your face. Then a server comes by with a huge pair of scissors and slices open the paper bag, which contains your fish. It's not the easiest thing to do, to dig your soft, hot fish out out of a bag with a giant flower pot crowding you. I'm not sure what it is with the garden theme here: There are a lot of dishes that get the cutesy garden treatment, including a $27 "pot pie garden" dessert that comes with a bunch of these garden pots filled with different kinds of pie.
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1. Bone in New York strip, $52
This is the cheaper of the steak options on the menu. You can also get a $60 filet mignon, or a $125 filet and lobster combo for two. The utensils rising from the plate only get larger the more money you spend. These particular ones are about as tall as a toddler, and totally obstruct the view of your tablemate. So, very good thing to order if you're on a date you don't want to be on.