BY SOPHIE BROSS
As you fall through the rabbit hole and enter the whimsical world at Barton G. The Restaurant Chicago, you begin your visual and culinary experience. This is not fine dining but fun dining.
With sister locations in Miami and Los Angeles, Barton G. has become notorious for its over-the-top, elaborate presentations. Though its new Chicago outpost, located at 415 North Dearbon Street in River North, only just opened its doors February 15, it’s already serving up the same shock and awe.
Founder Barton G. Weiss is a celebrity event concept designer and planner, and this is evident in every part of your dining experience. The cuisine is classic American comfort food redefined in the most dramatic manner. It is no wonder it’s considered the most Instagrammed restaurant in the world.
Menu items have kitschy names with equally kitschy presentations. For appetizers, we delighted in the Laughing Bird Popcorn Shrimp, which consisted of crispy rock shrimp served with a sweet and spicy chili sauce and popcorn in a popcorn machine. Next came the Lobster Pop Tarts: lobster and fontina cheese in a phyllo “pop tart” shell served tableside in a toaster. Mother would definitely approve of these Pop Tarts.
For entrees, we savored the slow cooked short ribs served with a red wine sauce, mashed potatoes, and carrots in metal spaceship. The Rare Torched Tuna was scorched tableside by a server donning a welding mask and wielding a torch.
The desserts were artistic creations that almost looked too good to eat. Marie Antoinette’s Head – Let Them Eat Cake dessert had a towering cotton candy pompadour surrounded by doughnut cupcakes topped with buttercream frosting. The Dolla Dolla Bills Y’all dessert was a mega-rich chocolate ganache under a gold brick shell served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate crumble—a must order for any chocolate lovers.
The restaurant boasts an equally creative cocktail menu with a below zero nitro-bar. My favorite was the Buddhalicious with Grey Goose vodka, lychee, cranberry juice, and a vodka popsicle presented in a very cold metal martini glass with a Buddha. Who wouldn’t want a refreshing vodka popsicle?
Although the focus was on appearance, every dish was delicious, fresh, and well prepared. Barton G.’s does not sacrifice taste for presentation. The service is still spotty, but the staff is very polite and the restaurant had only been open a week at the time of my visit.
This is definitely not a place for everyday dining but ideal for birthdays, celebrations, and, of course, celebrity spotting.