On a recent evening, four companions and I went to Barter to try the menu super chef Tim Love helped construct. The custom sausage was a Cajun-Asian variety, well-spiced and sweet, while the striped bass tostada suffered from cilantro overload. Then came the mains. The blue cheese aioli was seemingly missing from the dry and unimpressive tenderloin “wedge” sandwich. The chili crab fajitas were much too spicy, even for someone who lives by spicy food, and the pork shank was flat-out frightening. Who wants a piece of meat the size of a boot? The American lamb chops, though fatty, put some points on the board. But none of this matters. Because you’re never going to get your food, unless you’re a famous magazine editor. After a lackluster, two-and-a-half-hour meal, in which the manager (without apology) blamed the abysmal service on no-show bussers and runners, I ran into the editor of Esquire magazine as he was arriving. We proceeded to log two-and-a-half more hours at Barter, watching as his dishes (the same Brussels sprouts and carrot “home fries” we’d ordered an hour earlier) were delivered artfully arranged and seasoned distinctively different and delicious. Barter has potential. You just may need to dine with a celebrity guest to experience it. 

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