Hospitality maverick Barton G. Weiss brings a surefire social media star to the Windy City.
At a time when #eatingfortheinsta is as much a given as motioning for the check, it takes an outsize effort to impress ’gramming gourmands. Barton G. Weiss, the founder and CEO of the eponymous hospitality brand and its new effort, Barton G. The Restaurant Chicago, is more than up to the task: “The whole concept of the restaurant is experiential— you cannot not have a great time. I think it’s the most instagrammable restaurant around.”
In Weiss’ world of madcap culinary creations, menu items rival Hollywood set pieces: Marie Antoinette’s Head-Let Them Eat Cake wows with a dizzying, 2-foot-tall coiffure of cotton candy sprouting from a mannequin head. Welding mask-wearing servers heat the meringue and chocolate-feuilletine golden nuggets of Dolla Dolla Bills Y’all!!!!, a gold brick shell-sheathed chocolate ganache and dulce de leche tart, with a blowtorch. And sippers of the Buddhalicious pear vodka martini gain a drinking partner in the form of a happy Buddha statue, frozen in chuckling repose on the nitrogenized tipple’s arch bridge-cum-serving platter.
To bring his through-the-looking-glass vision into focus, Weiss tapped Chicago Firehouse alum Erwin Mallet. “Most chefs we interviewed couldn’t wrap their head around what we were trying to do,” notes Weiss, “whereas Erwin got it immediately.” And for a concept that predates the advent of social media (the Miami Beach flagship debuted in 2002, followed by L.A. in 2014), the spot is prescient not only for its photogenic appeal, but the escapist charm that fuels the Insta-ecosystem. Says Weiss, “Barton G. has stayed true to its mission: Come in, have fun, forget where you are and just be blown away; walk out remembering exactly what you had; and then repeat it to your friends.” 415 N. Dearborn St.