A definitive guide to the land of lavatories
One thing the Porcelain Gentleman admires about Americans is their lack of infatuation with ‘authenticity’. In the UK it’s almost a national obsession. Whether it is the class system, various parts of London, indeed the whole of the north, the British seem in a continuous cycle of questioning and reaffirming something’s authenticity. The credentials for something to be authentic range from being based on trivial factors, like how it was described by your senile nan, how it looks in old photos – even how you pronounce it, to diligently objectifying how well it reflects the origin of its essence, as if evolving is a detrimental force and thus authentication gatekeepers must build dams to prevent a ghastly paradigm shift.
In America, a young country which prides itself on being one long land grab, something’s authenticity is simply another factor considered alongside say – desirability, for example ‘are these sausages definitely from Cumberland?’ ‘not sure, hard to tell, aren’t sausages just 98% pig face anyway?’ etc etc. Nowhere better exemplifies this than the city of Miami. Miami is dripping in a rich history of sexual liberation, political salvation and exquisite Art Deco architecture, yet rather than obsess over what it once was it is happy to embrace, promote and reinvent to a point where being a parody of itself is just a natural step in an evolving identity, as opposed to a loss of its personality or origins.
To see this in full flow you need only get out your best shiny shirt and flavoured toothpick and hit Ocean Drive, but for a less Ricky Martin version of this, hit one of the upmarket ‘experience’ restaurants such as Barton G.
Barton G bills itself as an ‘experience like no other’, which taken at face value is obviously a meaningless statement insofar as your wife leaving you for your dad is an incomparable experience, or indeed most turning pages in life’s flick book. Pushing semantical pedantry to one side what this actually means is the food, the drinks even the menu is presented to you in an unorthodox fashion. A delve into the world of ‘Haute cuisine’ if you will..
Now experience cuisine in its ‘authentic’ state comes from the phenomenal laboratories of places like ‘el bulli’ in Spain and is passed on to outliers like the fat duck , where ingredients and the human psyche make love and spawn dishes like a rack of lamb that’s actually made of orange peel, blue in colour and tastes like a cheesecake you had in Canada 6 years ago in a restaurant the chef surely can’t have know about. Surely.
But this level of complexity at both the production and consumption end is somewhat a bridge too far (and unnecessary) so rather than get bogged down in the chemistry they indulge the accessibly ostentatious and weird e.g:
Rather than a menu written in some indigenous vernacular telling you the name of the animal you are eating- they have it on an ipad.
Rather than tuna served as smoke on a puff of fermented seaweed essence, it’s exactly as you have at home but with a massive samurai sword.
Some Lobster was served in a toaster, one dish looked like chicken Kiev but came with a baseball bat, amongst others.
Now my tone may suggest a man who was underwhelmed, but the truth is much to the contrary – being half cut, holding a samurai sword and trying to butter your bread in front of a restaurant of distressed onlookers is as good a Saturday night out I can recall.
As a toilet connoisseur my preference for a loo in an establishment that is a sensory overload such as this, is to be sleek, low on frills with a suggestion of expense. Barton G delivers on this front, though not without initially making one fear the worst.
Given that a restroom visit was preceded by handling heavy weaponry, seeing this on the second double door to enter the loo had me under the impression I may well have to grapple with an oversexed granny that had baguettes for arms and would go straight for my belt.
Alas no, instead the toilet was very well lit, with polished timber surfaces, marbled individual bucket sinks and a selection of music that consisted of some minimal tech and upon my exit the drop of this tune. A fairly nice touch what with its locale.
The Porcelain Gentleman:
Spend too much of ones time deliberating over something’s identity and whether it fulfils its proclamation, such as in this case ‘experimental cuisine’ and you start to miss the point.
Whatever something was, is, or lays claim will be, is only baselined on something that was once itself only speculation, interpretation, the blueprint of a think tank, the consensus of one – so in that regard anything and everything can be authentic and in fact it is simply the premonitions that are not.
In this light Barton G excels in both providing an experience and, most importantly, book ending it with appropriately complementary loo’s. 7/10.