As dining out becomes a daily occurrence, what draws a customer to one restaurant over another? Is it the food, the décor, or the service? Perhaps it’s the overall experience which is then reported back to friends. With the influence of social media, diners love to share what they are experiencing on Instagram, Facebook, Periscope, Twitter, and Snapchat. Usually the photos of a beautifully plated dish will represent the experience. However, some restaurants are taking the dining experience to a more experiential level and incorporating theatrical elements. No longer is dining out simply sitting at a table with your friends and having a conversation.
Theatrical dining is not a new concept. Italian pizza restaurant Miceli’s has the singing waiters and The Magic Castle offers roaming magicians and magic shows. There is also Medieval Times where men, dressed as knights, joust and brandish weapons as diners eat and cheer on the knights. But food is not the primary focus when a diner goes to one of these venues. They go for the entertainment and for the overall experience. Yet, there are experiential dining experiences in Los Angeles that are raising the bar and going beyond performance dining. Theatrical elements are brought into the modern dining environment to enhance, not overshadow, the food.
When my friend and pastry chef Marisa Churchill came to LA for a segment on The Talk, she told me that it was up to me to select where we ate. But, then she called and said she had one request - could we go to the new Barton G which opened on La Cienega. Why? Well, let's put it this way and see if this tune rings a bell.......
"Come with me, and you'll be, in a world of pure imagination. Take a look, And you'll see, Into your imagination. We'll begin, with a spin, traveling in the world of my creation What we'll see will defy explanation. If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it. Wanta change the world? There's nothing to it. There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination Living there, you'll be free, if you truly wish to be."Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is every child's dream. Who doesn't fantasize about walking through the candy fantasy land with rivers of chocolate and trees of gumdrops? At Barton G, this magical world comes to life, with a little twist ala Stanley Kubrick and Salvador Dali.