Barton G.

June 19, 2008 | By | COMMENTS

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A few weeks ago, when I went to visit my family in Florida, I re-read Frank Bruni’s Top 10 Restaurants Outside of New York and excitedly told my parents that one of those restaurants was right near us in Miami. That place, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, was, unfortunately, booked for that whole weekend (I had to stop my mom from saying, “My son, The Food Network star,” to try to get us a table) and all dressed up with nowhere to go, my mom suggested Barton G.

You may recall Barton G. from the Miami season of “Top Chef.” Barton is a flashy, famous, Florida caterer who makes theater out of food, with outlandish presentations and over-the-top prices. “Sure,” I said to my mom. “This’ll be good for my blog.”

Well, reader, you can be the judge of that. For the best part of the meal was not the food (food that was less F.C.I. and more T.G.I. as in T.G.I. Friday’s) but the razzle dazzle presentation. Let’s start with my drink:

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Yes, that’s a chocolate monkey hanging from the glass. And dry ice is making it steam. In the drink (which was a cloying, horrible, signature watermelon martini) was a champagne popsicle, frozen with the help of liquid nitrogen so that, instead of ice, the frozen champagne melts into your drink. That’s a nice touch, if only the drink were better.

Here’s calamari that’s somehow been straightened into french fries:

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Not much flavor, but fun to crunch through.

Here are stuffed coconut-crusted shrimp served in a giant glass with more dry ice to make it steam:

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And here’s a shrimp up close. Admittedly, it was pretty tasty.

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A chopped salad was served in a giant goblet:

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And here’s my dad with his entree–fried chicken served, naturally, in a rooster:

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Mom’s lamb came in more modest trappings:

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As for my monkfish, well it was served with an actual monk on the plate!

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(I almost get the impression that Barton serves monkfish only so he can serve it like this; if it weren’t called monkfish but, say, fish fish, I bet it wouldn’t be on the menu.)

All this whimsy is, undoubtedly, delightful; however, the prices take some of the fun away. Check out some of the dessert menu presented, rather strangely, on a Blackberry (yes, they bring a Blackberry to your table to read about dessert):

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$32 for Creme Brûlée. That’s outrageous! Even in Paris, that’d be outrageous. In fact, I can’t think of any place in the world, except this place, where that would be ok.

We settled on an ice cream sundae that was served quite subtly. With sparklers:

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To its credit, Barton G. has a sense of humor about itself. Here’s how the check comes:

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So I would say, if you’re in Miami, if you like good, campy fun, and you have lots of money burning a hole in your pocket, Barton G. might be a good choice. If, however, you care less about style and more about substance, plan ahead and call the place Frank Bruni recommended: Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink. My next trip to Florida, that’s where I’m headed.

Categories: Florida

  • http://cultofdomesticity.blogspot.com Laura

    While I could go for a chocolate monkey hanging off of my drink (but would rather have him on top of a banana split), I think I would have trouble controlling my laughter at this place. Dining as spectacle just isn’t my style. Thanks for the review though, if I’m ever in Miami I’ll be sure to skip Barton G!

  • Jeff Stinnett

    When a restaurant uses gimmicky place settings you begin to wonder about the quality of the food. However, I guess that is what he wants to do. MIght as well be Casa Bonita :) Not for me tho……

  • http://thingsiphotograph.blogspot.com/ LoriB

    I’d be embarrassed to eat there. I prefer good food over spectacle.

  • LondonM

    I’m not sure about Paris, but I think there are probably places here in London where a Creme Brulee would set you back £16 .. :)

  • http://travelturtle.net Ann

    Wow. What has Miami become? How much was that firecracker sundae anyway? I’m so curious about the cotton candy…

  • http://thefoodmonsterblog.blogspot.com The Food Monster

    To answer your question, yes I think it was good that you went there, so you could blog about it and the rest of us can skip it while we are in Miami. I am glad you had pictures throughout the night, so we could enjoy the experience with you.

  • http://www.kitchencaravan.com/blog Sophia from Kitchen Caravan

    Dry ice makes me laugh so hard! I will def. check this place out next time I go to Miami.

  • http://www.annienewman.typepad.com Annie’s New York Eats

    And for this they tore down Wolfie’s?

    (I don’t mean, they literally tore down Wolfie’s and this resto stands in its place. It’s more like, Miami’s psychic restaurant roster lost Wolfie’s and gained this ungepotchked mess. Not a good trade-off).

  • Peter

    Fuck this guy.. The food looks and sounds like garbage.

  • http://guiltycarnivore.com The Guilty Carnivore

    That looks like the most annoying dining experience ever conceived. I’ve think we’ve discovered the restaurant equivalent of Jar Jar Binks.

  • Angeline

    There’s a fine line between cutting edge and just tacky, I think this line has been crossed. Especially if the food wasn’t outstanding. Is it possible they are trying to compensate for the mediocre food with showmanship?

  • auntjone

    I would hate to be the dishwasher in that joint.

    The gimmicks would be a huge turn off to me as a diner.

  • http://www.missbhavens.com missbhavens

    The creme brulee was how much? You mean the desert? The one made of eggs, creme and sugar? Is that price being affected by shipping the eggs? Is diesel fuel over $20 a gallon in Florida?

    For those prices I don’t want dry ice and statuettes atop my fish. I want reeeaaaaly good food.

    I will not speck to the Blackberry…except to say that it’s absurdly tacky.

    (I’ll admit this, though: I like the rooster. There. I said it.)

  • Samuel Miami

    Adam, I very much disagree with your review.

    As a resident of Miami I take all of my out-of-town guests for dinner at Barton G’s, as it’s such a unique dining experience. The restaurant has never failed to “wow” my guests. All have agreed that “they have nothing like this back home” and are filled with praises for the quality of the food and over-the-top presentations.

    As far as your critique of the calamari being “straightened out”, have you ever heard of calamari steak? Calamari can be cut in many different ways. I guess that’s why they call you the Amateur Gourmet.

    Regarding pricing; yes, the Crème Brulee is $32. Interestingly enough, you didn’t include a picture. If you had, you would have seen that you get four full portions of Crème Brulee in four different flavors, along with 8 different toppings. The desserts are definitely designed to be shared, and that’s always made clear. It’s one of my favorites, I’ve enjoyed with my guests many times. For four diners, that’s $8 per person, far from outrageous.

    I’ve never been to a restaurant where cameras are in use all over the dining room and garden by guests taking pictures of their food, as well as pictures of food being delivered to other tables.

    In short, I’m glad to have Barton G’s here in Miami representing a restaurateur who actually thinks outside of the box. After all, every city has their steakhouses, but only Miami has Barton G!

  • http://natnibbles.blogspot.com Natalie

    I was lucky enough to experience Barton G catering at an event in Miami. It was so innovative & delicious. Those coconut shrimp are sooo good.

  • Ronna Caras

    The food at Barton G’s was delicious the night I dined with a group of colleagues. We laughed our heads off at the presentations, but enjoyed the heck out of the high quality, beautifully cooked appetizers, entrees and desserts. Lobster Pop Tarts were served in a toaster, of course. They were crunchy, creamy and lobster-filled and enough to share between 4 people. So, although the price was high, the portion was huge. The lamb was succulent. The skirt steak was moist and perfectly seasoned (although I did not connect the giraffe sculpture which held my chimichurri sauce – unless it was giraffe skirt steak…) I must recommend that anyone going to Barton G’s should share the Mousetrap Mac and Cheese with someone. And, if anyone knows the recipe for the creamy, bright cheese sauce and for keeping the macaroni so firm, please send it my way. I’d also like to know where they got the moustrap it was served in. This restaurant is hilarious without sacrificing a quality meal. I think “The Amateur” is simply jealous.

  • Matt W

    I think the Amateur Gourmet and the few posters at the top of the blog kind of missed the point. I ate there yesterday and here are a few observations:

    - The restaurant seems to be a grand pastiche of every American chain you can think of: Perkins, Applebys, Red Lobster and even KFC. The presentation does set the meals apart but the quality is extremely impressive. This isn’t Michelin star cooking by any means but what Barton G does is done very well. Get over the snobbery and understand what the point of the restaurant is.

    - Prices are reasonable (certainly by my British standards) for individual dishes that could serve more than 2 people. The comment over the dessert price was woefully ignorant and needs to be qualified. In fact, it even states clearly at the top of the menu that the desserts are for 2 or more. My berry crumble was generous for 4 people and adequate for 6. My only gripe would be that it does create a tremendous amount of waste and being tourists, we weren’t looking to take home a doggy bag.

    - The service was exemplary and worthy of ‘fine dining’ establishments.

    - Personally, I thought the cocktails were quite nice even if the liquid nitrogen added an extra 10 dollars to the price. A good way to start the meal.

    Anyway, this place won’t be to everyone’s taste (as I’ve said earlier) because of perceived culinary snobbery. Get past that and you might have some fun.

  • kilrbnn

    I have to agree with the more recent posts. You seem to have missed the entire point of the restaurant. And it’s not exactly like any of you got what would be considered their “specialties” besides the shrimp appetizer and your drink- which I’m sorry you didn’t like. Personally it’s one of the few times that I will shell out that much for a martini, because their choices are truly unique.

    And to all the commenters with your ridiculous negative comments- who clearly haven’t been there and seem to be gaining (if you could even say that…) all your knowledge from this single misleading review, please go there! Or at least look around for some more qualified reviews.

    And you MUST try the desserts! Like others said, they are priced to share, but they are all equally amazing (especially the beignets and the large brownie sundae).

  • Evelyn Sanabria

    My family and I visited this restaurant for New Year’s Eve and I most say it is very kids friendly. The presentation are amazing to look at. However I ordered the Special, Surf for two (huge lobster and filet mignon)and it was great, however my amazement was at the end when we got our bill. My meal alone was a whopping $175.00. I got to say I was surprise. I have had lobster and steak meal in great restaurants and have never paid so much. But it will be my last time ordering specials without asking questions. I would visit the restaurant again for good fun and laughs.

  • elaina

    This restaurant was recommended by a friend. He claimed it was the best restaurant in sobe. I have been to many restaurants in sobe and was excited as it was my 20th wedding anniversary. I wanted to go to Michael’s, but my friend highly recommended this place. What a joke. After spending $400 for two and getting severe indigestion from the watermelon martini, i was upset. The food is o.k. the presentation was gimmicky and cheesey. As a food lover and avid cook i prefer great food and i am not in need of a show. If i wanted a show, i would attend the circus the next time it was in town.

  • elaina

    This restaurant was recommended by a friend. He claimed it was the best restaurant in sobe. I have been to many restaurants in sobe and was excited as it was my 20th wedding anniversary. I wanted to go to Michael’s, but my friend highly recommended this place. What a joke. After spending $400 for two and getting severe indigestion from the watermelon martini, i was upset. The food is o.k. the presentation was gimmicky and cheesey. As a food lover and avid cook i prefer great food and i am not in need of a show. If i wanted a show, i would attend the circus the next time it was in town.

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