Current Obsession: Wacky and Whimsical Food Vessels At Barton G.
Call us nitpickers or details people, but it's the little things in life—and in the food world— that get us excited. Whether it be an off-the-wall menu item, a particularly stylish bathroom or a restaurant's signature scent, we get stoked on the minutiae that makes our dining scene unique. Consider this the sacred space where we feel safe to express our current obsessions and openly explore our favorite things.
This week it's Barton G's creative food vessels.
What it is: After 10 years of success on South Beach, events impresario Barton G. Weiss brought his innovative approach to entertaining from Miami to L.A. His restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard is all about wild, whimsical table-side presentation. And that doesn't mean your usual classic French service with sauciers or Italian Caesar salads done al minute. Being an over-the-top event planner to the stars, Barton G. is all about showy yet playful vessels to deliver your meal with a tongue-in-cheek twist.
For instance, popcorn shrimp comes in a giant carnivalesque popcorn maker overflowing with battered shrimp and buttery popcorn. A garden salad is delivered inside a miniature wheelbarrow, then dressed by your server with a selection of flaxseeds and sunflower seeds in seed packets. A seared ahi dish comes on a samurai sword statue with a side of soba noodles and green beans twisted into a knot. And gigantic American-style steaks some skewered with a massive life-sized silver fork.
Let's just say that if Willy Wonka decided he wanted to go savory, this would be his playground before moving on to dessert.
Why it's rad: Though it's exciting to live in an up-and-coming dining city like L.A., the copycatting of presentation and design can be a snore. There comes a point where it's tiring seeing sauces dragged across a plate topped with some sort of sous vide meat and delicately tweezed foraged greens. And don't even get me started on the Mason jars. It's refreshing to see something different. Even if it's a bit gimmicky at times, this is the first time in a while that I've giggled like a five year old at the sight of my food.
Plus, for a chef whose background is in traditional fine dining, it's a real departure and a welcome creative challenge. Executive Culinary Creative Director Jeff Weiss—who's worked his entire career in fine dining kitchens with the likes of Daniel Boulud and was on the opening team of the original Daniel in NYC—welcomes the idea of thinking outside the box and crafting a menu in relation to its potential artistry, sculpture and presentation.
Not to mention that all of the "vehicles," as they're called by the team, are fabricated by Barton G. himself. They may not be as cutting-edge or industrial-looking as Martin Kastner's pieces for Grant Achatz, but they're still pretty impressive.
And though Weiss isn't doing anything outlandish in terms of the food itself, it's still really solid technically speaking, making Barton G. a nice place for a special occasion, celebration, or showcase of how over-the-top L.A. can really be.
What's more is that it's a restaurant that you can bring your kids—if your kids are well-behaved of course. This is definitely a fine dining type establishment, but it's engaging and exciting for adults and kids alike. And believe it or not, that's not an easy thing to find in L.A.
How much it'll cost you: The dishes at Barton G. are definitely oversize and meant to be shared with groups. We dined with two people and most were far too large to finish, and besides, the playfulness definitely makes for a better social event. Mains range from $20-80; cocktails from $15-20; and apps and desserts are from $20-80.
Where to find it: Barton G. is located at 861 N La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, (310) 388-1888. You can find out more info here.