When it comes to creating over-the-top desserts, Barton G. knows no limits. The restaurant's become famous for its "OMG, I need to Insta that now!" menu, featuring dishes like lobster 'PopTarts,' served in a retro toaster; popcorn shrimp, delivered to you in a working popcorn machine (surrounded by actual popcorn, of course). But one of the most attention-grabbing, by far, is Let Them Eat Cake - a two-foot-tall wig made out of cotton candy, served on a clear glass mannequin head, ringed with bite-sized confections.
The whole thing seems straight out of Sofia Coppola's pastel-coated fever dream of a movie, Marie Antoinette, and that's because it's partially inspired by the woman herself (in fact, many people know the dessert by her name, not the actual dish's).
The team at Barton G. dreamed it up a few years ago, when they hosted a jewelry show at the restaurant's Miami location (there's also a restaurant in Los Angeles). They held a brainstorming session to discuss ways to incorporate food into the show, when the G of Barton G. himself - Barton G. Weiss, restauranteur and event designer - threw out an idea: What if the models wore cotton candy wigs, and you could just grab a piece as they walked by?
"Barton usually has an idea like that, some out-of-this-world idea, and we work to make it a reality," explained pastry chef Julian Belon.
They made it happen, having the models wear bald-cap wigs and stroll backstage any time they needed their cotton-candy coifs "freshened up," Belon said. It was such a hit the culinary team decided to add it to the restaurant menu, trading in live models for a mannequin topped with a roughly 2-foot-tall pole, which helps give the tower of cotton candy its structure.
"We're constantly coming up with ideas, so as soon as something comes out and is amazing, we're thinking of the next version."
The chefs wrap cotton candy around the pole, finessing it until they have just the right beehive shape, then use a dab of water to stick on a few bows made out of the same sugary floss.
While the faux-wig hasn't changed much over the past few years, the team regularly trades out the miniature desserts it's plated with - currently, it's white chocolate-covered strawberries and blackberry cream puffs, though that may change over the next few weeks - just to keep things fresh.
"We're constantly coming up with ideas, so as soon as something comes out and is amazing, we're thinking of the next version," Belon said.
That evolution has been key to bringing people back for more. Belon hinted that Let Them Eat Cake may undergo an extreme makeover in the months to come - one that's more of a throwback to the '50s, with a retro Americana vibe that's more in line with the other dishes on the menu. Either way, they like to keep people guessing.
"We have no limits here, which is awesome," Belon said. "Our goal is just to make sure people are always laughing. You're having fun the whole time."
After all, life's too short to skip dessert - or the chance to 'gram a massive cotton candy wig.
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