1427 West Avenue
305-672-8881 Barton G. Weiss made his name in catering grand events, and as such he understands that dining out is ultimately about more than great food and service, it's about having a great time -- which is just what people experience when they come to his eponymous South Beach restaurant. The outdoor garden and indoor room are absolutely lovely and arguably the only dining settings around where the cuisine is greeted with audible oohs, aahs, and whoops of delight; also the only place we know of where people pull out cameras to photograph their meals. That's because there's more creativity manifested on Barton G's menu and presentations than at other restaurants in town. Combined. Heck, they exhibit more creativity on their coffee menu alone (including a bean that gets soaked in animal enzymes for extra fullness). Macaroni and cheese is served in a giant mousetrap, with a wedge of cheddar as the "bait." Shrimp gets served in a giant glass vase with dry ice releasing a sweep of smoke across the table. Duck decoys, wooden chickens, miniature lounge chairs -- just about anything goes as garnish here (no need for karaoke nights when the entertainment is built into the food). There is so much fun per plate that it's easy to overlook just how fresh and delicious the contemporary American fare is; it would be among the best even if it didn't have a great sense of humor. Service is strong too, the wine list sophisticated, desserts so over the top they go through the roof -- almost literally in the case of the towering cotton candy treat. Dining at Barton G's is a trip -- and the best one you'll take in South Beach.
Readers´ Choice: China Grill