Barton G in South Beach
By Nick Jurkowski
South Beach has many things: clubs, bars, snooty attitudes, beautiful people, over-priced drinks. One of the things that is most immediately noticeable about SoBe is also, ironically, one of the things that you first cease to notice once you have spent an appreciable amount of time there: the over-the-top, unbelievably garish, superficial glitz. This comes in many forms, from the icy blonde models that frequent clubs and hotspots to the ornate, often-extravagant dÃ©cor of the clubs and restaurants themselves – after you’ve been around it for a while, you barely notice it.
That’s why it is sometimes fun to go to a place where presentation is the specialty and wild culinary ideas are made real. Barton G (named for an eccentric impresario with a reputation for over-the-top theatrics) offers exceedingly original dishes that really have to be seen to be believed (for example, try the “Freedom Chimp” for dessert â€“ it’s a chocolate monkey dressed as the statue of liberty, holding sparklers. No kidding). Even fairly standard dishes are presented in bizarre and interesting ways. For example, the seared scallops are served in lollipop form, while you can get swordfish and vegetables skewered on a foot-long dagger. The prices are a little steep, but unlike many other places in SoBe, the portions are huge, and the service is unfailingly excellent (though it does on occasion take a bit of time to be seated).
For optimal dining pleasure, try to get a seat in the garden â€“ it really has to be seen to be described, and remember to go all out on dessert. My favorite is the Baked Alaska, which is unrelentingly huge, and can easily feed four diners.
The next time you want to remember what South Beach is known for, head to Barton G â€“ it’s a culinary experience that you won’t soon forget.