This place isn’t just a restaurant. It’s a show, an experience, an everlasting memory that shoots itself up into one’s shortlist of iconic meals they have had over the course of their lifetime. Describing Barton G in a nutshell is difficult, because there is literally nothing about this place that can be described without abstract comparisons and anecdotes that make your eyes close with nostalgia.
Put as simply as possible, Barton G turns childhood favorites into upscale delicacies, presented in such an extravagant way that the meal is as much a feast for the other four senses as it is for the palate.
Literally every dish comes out with its own jaw-dropping style. Liquid nitrogen popcorn is hand-mixed in a giant metal martini ‘glass’ with Parmesan and bacon. If that wasn’t enough popcorn, the popcorn shrimp is fried shrimp and popcorn served in an old-school popcorn machine. Deviled eggs are dyed red and served in a chicken coup that looks like it came out of a Tim Burton movie. Oyster shooters are encased in a champagne-gelatin bubble that defines molecular gastronomy. Steaks come with three-foot forks stabbed in a wood cutting board.
For some serious elegance, start with the lobster pop tarts that come in an oversized retro toaster. Move onto Lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, which sits under an oversized mousetrap. Then go with the roasted lobster apicius with squid ink orzo is served under a Trojan helmet. Wash it all down with a liquid nitrogen cotton candy cocktail.
Desserts are a mandatory group effort—six people might get through one dish. Take the chocolate treasure for example: literally a treasure chest filled with brownies, gold rice crispy nuggets and creme fraiche ice cream, complete with graham cracker sand, chocolate coins and a shovel just in case the spoon isn't enough to capture the excitement.
What seals the deal is that this food is seriously good. Chef de Cuisine Attila Bollok pays as much attention to detail to each dish as Founder Barton G. Weiss has paid to the restaurant’s immaculate decor. The portions here are real, designed for real people with real appetites. Leftovers-worthy, in fact…anyone who can finish the Marie Antoinette deserves to take home a serving prop of their choice. And the price point is unexpectedly fair, making you wander how they even do it.
Barton G is a foodie’s bliss and an Instagrammer’s dream. When it comes to fine dining in one of LA’s hottest areas, Barton G has one of the ‘hauttest’ approaches, hands-down.
Barton G LA is located at 861 N La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069. Open 6 – 10 p.m. Mon – Thurs, 6 – 11 p.m. Fri, 5:30 – 11 p.m. Sat/Sun. Average out-the-door price for shared appetizer, entrée, shared dessert and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$118/person. Barton G can be reached at (310) 388-1888 as well as online.
Japanese dining doesn't get much more authentic or intimate on this side of the Pacific than at Tempura Endo. The value proposition here may be questionable, but nevertheless there’s no doubt that this place cares deeply for its ingredients and the 500-year tradition behind its cuisine.
For those unfamiliar, tempura is a Japanese deep-fry cooking method. In Endo’s case, chefs prepare each course in front of their guests, using only the highest-quality oils, meticulously stirred batter, black bean soy sauce and a lineup of salts that pair with specific items. Add in premium-grade sashimi and wagyu beef to make this as high-end of an experience as possible. Prix-fixe menus range from 10 – 17 courses, or $150 - $280.
Owner Koichi Endo’s restaurant empire resides exclusively in Kyoto, Japan with the exception of this tiny spot on Santa Monica Boulevard. The tasting room seats eight, with space for a few more in adjacent nooks. Add in the tea room, where guests will go in one at a time to witness matcha made in a ceremonious fashion.
While the ambiance is intimate, Endo’s feel doesn’t match up to its food quality—a rarity nowadays considering the reverse is much more common. This small space is sparsely dressed up with kitschy décor. You can see the bright blue bathroom signs from your seat in the tasting room. Chefs unload ingredients onto the counter from cheap Tupperware. Endo seems more like a dive along Westwood Boulevard than a high-end establishment in Beverly Hills.
Additionally, each course is literally two bites of relatively light food. You will likely need to eat again as soon as you leave Tempura Endo’s doors.
Hats off to the restaurant staff for preparing a truly authentic Far East dining experience, but the atmosphere needs to live up to the price point. It’s hard to justify dropping $300+ for the equivalent of a moderate snack in this kind of setting.
Tempura Endo is located at 9777 S Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Open 5 p.m. – midnight 7 days/week. Out-the-door price for mid-tier prix fixe menu and 1-2 drinks is ~$300/person. Tempura Endo can be reached at (310) 274-2201 or online.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.